New provisions relating to staff representatives

Overview

From 17 August 2015 new provision, referred to as the “Rebsamen Law” (the “Law”), was introduced. It is aimed at modernising and strengthening relationships with staff representatives. The Law provides greater flexibility in terms of  representation, reflecting the diversity of employer organisations. It also brings about additional changes, such as to the operation of  works councils and health and safety council, many of which constitute significant changes for employers.

Staff representatives’ organisation

Subject to agreement, companies or Labour and Business Units with at least 300 employees may decide to bring together the works council, the health and safety committee and the staff delegates into a single institution (or to combine two of these institutions).

Similarly, for smaller companies,  with between 50 and 299 employees, although formal agreement between the parties is not required, a Single Staff Representation incorporating the works council, the health and safety committee and the staff delegates can be set up by the employer following consultation with all staff representatives.

Information and consultation procedures

Currently there are 17 mandatory  information and consultation obligations associated with works councils. From 1 January 2016 these will be replaced by a minimum of 3 annual consultations concerning:

  • strategic considerations of the company;
  • the company’s financial and economic situation;
  • social policy of the company, conditions of work and employment.

The information which the organisation must provide in the context of these three consultation processes is defined within the Law, as is the fact that staff representatives can be assisted by experts.

Operation of the works council

The works council must meet:

  • every two months in companies with less than 300 employees,
  • every month in companies with at least 300 employees.

The meetings of the works council may take place via videoconference three times per year. Variation of these requirements requires agreement between the employer and the works council.

Central works council / local works council

The central works council is responsible for ensuring in its general operation the company does not exceed its management powers. The central works council is accordingly  consulted only in respect of projects decided at company/central level.