W as in Works council

What does a works council do?

The works council (Betriebsrat) represents the interests of the employees in the company towards their employer. They can be formed in companies with at least five employees who are eligible to vote. However, there is no legal obligation to form one.

What are the tasks of the works council?

The employer is required to involve the Betriebsrat in certain decisions, such as hiring, transfers or terminations. They must also be involved in restructuring processes. The  Betriebsrat and the employer ought to work together in a spirit of trust and can conclude works agreements (Betriebsvereinbarung) that apply directly to all employees.

How can the Betriebsrat help me?

The council members are a good point of contact and a very useful ressource  for employees in the event of disagreements within the company. They can bring complaints to the attention of the employer and are entitled, for example, to take part in staff appraisals. Their members may not be discriminated against because of their works council activities and enjoy special protection against dismissal. In larger companies, members of the works council are released from work so that they can devote their full attention to the job as council members.


Please note: This is a very general overview on the subject of works councils under german labor law. If you need help in your particular case, please do not hestitate to contact me or book your appointment. I’m happy to help.

three members of the works council facing the employer