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European Works Councils

Updating author: David Whincup

Summary

  • The obligation to establish a European Works Council (EWC) arose in the UK following the implementation of the Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3323). The Regulations give effect to the European Works Council Directive (94/45/EC) (now the recast European Works Council Directive (2009/38/EC)), which required the creation of EWCs in "undertakings" with significant operations in at least two European Economic Area countries. (See Which undertakings are covered?)
  • The Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 1999 were subject to significant amendment by the Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1088), which implement the recast Directive and came into force on 5 June 2011. The amended Regulations apply in their entirety to EWCs established after 15 December 1999 unless the agreement establishing the EWC was signed or revised on or after 5 June 2009 and before 5 June 2011; the amended Regulations apply in part only to EWCs that fall into this latter category. (See Which undertakings are covered?)
  • The purpose of the Directive is to establish mechanisms for informing and consulting employees at a European level; a separate Directive deals with the establishment of mechanisms for informing and consulting employees at national level. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • Every European Union state has introduced regulations implementing the Directive, which applies only to "undertakings" with operations in two or more European Economic Area countries. It is therefore first necessary to determine which of those countries' regulations apply to the central management of the undertaking and which apply to its local operations. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • Employees or their representatives can require an undertaking's management to provide information on employee numbers to determine whether or not the regulations apply. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • A petition of 100 or more employees in at least two member states can request the establishment of a special negotiating body to oversee the creation of an EWC. If the management fails to respond, a statutory EWC must be set up within six months. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • If management agrees to negotiate with the special negotiating body, the negotiations may continue for up to three years on the form and scope of the EWC. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • Special rules dictate the composition of the special negotiating body and EWC. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)
  • Once the EWC has been established it has a right to be informed and consulted on a number of matters and to receive information to enable it to perform its role. (See What happens if an EWC is requested?)