The German Parliament ratifies the Works Council Modernization Act.

 Employee co-determination rights are strengthened.

The German Parliament ratifies the Works Council Modernization Act.

The German Parliament passed the Works Council Modernization Act on 21 May 2021. This aims to simplify establishing works councils.

If the Federal Council approves the law after the German Parliament, the Works Council Modernization Act can enter into force.

The objective of the law is to strengthen employees’ co-determination rights within the company. Therefore, establishing a works council will be simplified and the co-determination rights of existing works councils strengthened.

Simplified voting rights for establishing a works council

One of the key new aspects of the law is that now the simplified voting procedure for establishing a works council applies at companies with up to 100 employees, instead of previously up to 50 employees. Only two signatures are required for election nominations at companies with more than 20 employees. At companies with fewer than 20 employees, no signatures are required to establish a works council.

Another new aspect is that the minimum age for active voting participation has been reduced from 18 to 16 years.

Improved protection against dismissal

In addition, employees involved in establishing a works council shall also receive better protection against dismissal. From the time a works council election is applied for until the announcement of the election results, these employees cannot be dismissed.

Works council meetings

As is now familiar due to the corona pandemic, works council meetings can also be held as video or telephone conferences in future. However, meetings in person take priority. However, unlike during the corona pandemic, this does not apply to conciliation boards and the economic committee.

Obligation to confidentiality

In addition, the law more clearly expresses that the Data Protection Officer is also obliged to confidentiality even in the case where the disclosure of such information to the employer affects the independence of the works council.

Home office and mobile work

Home office has also been included in the law as a consequence of the corona pandemic. The works council is granted a co-determination right when arranging mobile work.

In addition, the accident protection for home office is improved. Up until now, only company paths such as the path to the printer were insured. Now the route to the kitchen or the toilet is also included in the accident insurance. The insurance protection has also been expanded to include paths that the employee takes to look after their children outside of their home.

The Federal Council must still approve the law so that it can enter into force.

Subject to the approval of the Federal Council, the Works Council Modernization Act will strengthen the co-determination rights and also simplify establishing works councils at smaller companies.