The parties – a company and its five-member works council – were is dispute about a separate telephone and internet connection for the works council, alternatively about unlimited internet access.

On 20 April 2016 (docket number: 7 ABR 50/14) the Federal Labour Court (BAG) decided that the employer is not obliged to provide an internet connection for the works council, which is independent from his own internet connection. Neither is he obliged to provide a separate telephone connection for the works council.

According to section 40 paragraph 2 Works Constitution Act (BetrVG), the employer has to provide, inter alia, information and communication technology to the extent necessary.

The works council can require a telephone connection and, unless there are no legitimate interests of the employer, the provision of internet access and the establishment of its own e-mail addresses without having to demonstrate that they are necessary for the performance specifically of upcoming duties related to the works constitution law. The employer can fulfill these requirements by providing a telephone connection, as well as internet access with e-mail accounts, which is within the scope of the existing information and communication system and which is used by all workplaces of the company uniformly. The works council cannot require separate telephone and a separate internet access simply because of the abstract risk of abusive exploitation of the employer’s potential to control the technology.

As in previous instances, the application of the works council to establish independent internet access as well as an independent telephone connection remained unsuccessful at the seventh senate of the Federal Labour Court.