When is a work council legally required in the Netherlands?
If your business employs at least 50 workers, then you must establish a works council in accordance with the Work Councils Act (WCA). If you have more than a single branch, you will need additional works councils in each of the subsequent offices that exceed this 50 employees threshold. However, a joint works council can be created if the branches employ more than 50 people collectively but less than 50 individually.
A company that employs less than 50 people is under no obligation to form a works council. Instead, a voluntarily council can be formed by the employees, or a representative body (in Dutch: personeelsvertegenwoordiging, PVT) can be created. This type of body would not hold the same powers as a legally implemented works council nor would it entail the same obligations. The employees can still exercise rights to consultation, which must be accomplished by holding staff meetings.
Purpose of a work council in the Netherlands
The works council acts to ensure employee participation in both the daily operation of a company and the decision making for the company’s future direction. The purpose of such a council is to benefit both the employer and employees, through both representation in the workplace and a having a forum in which constructive feedback can allow the business to progress. In the Netherlands, the works council must be convened at least twice a year and take place within working hours. The members of the works council are also entitled to schedule their own meetings within working hours.