Agreement was reached on changes to the European Works Council Directive in 2008.  These amendments came into force in the UK on 5 June. 

The changes include:

  • amendments to the definitions of "information" and "consultation" to bring them into line with definitions used in more recent Directives.  This will mean more onerous duties on European Works Councils (EWCs) to inform and consult on transnational issues;
  • giving a greater role to trade unions in the creation of the EWC;
  • requirements for EWCs to be adapted after a significant structural company change, to ensure that all employees are represented; and
  • an increase in the maximum penalty for non-compliance, from £75,000 to £100,000.

The changes do not alter the circumstances in which employers with central management in the UK will have to set up an EWC.  The duty still only applies where a company has 1,000 or more employees throughout the European Economic Area, at least 150 employees in two separate countries, and receives a request from at least 100 employees in two or more countries to form an EWC.

The changes apply to all new EWCs agreed on or after 5 June 2011, as well as to those agreed after 15 December 1999, unless they have been revised in the last two years.