You, as Works Council, have received a requests for advice. What happens next? What should you do with it? What are the Works Council’s advisory powers? This blog article contains an easy checklist.
When the Works Council receives a request for advice, this means a lot. You want to do a good job, and not leave anything out. That is why we are giving you some simple points to take into account and make your task a little easier.
the request for advice must be submitted to the Works Council in writing
You will receive the request for advice in writing, by regular mail or email, as the Works Council Act (WOR) dictates. The request for advice also contains a number of elements that are laid down in the WOR. In addition, the request must be dated and has to be signed by the Director and not, for example, by the HR manager.
It all sounds very strict, but if the legal regulations are not correct, your advice will not be right. We recommend that you return the request for advice (with the urgent demand for a new one) if it is not complete.
a request for advice is not a decision
The request for advice contains the proposed decision of the management board. With the emphasis on ‘proposed’: the decision shouldn’t/cannot have been taken yet. In fact, based on your advice, it should be possible to amend or change the proposed decision.
Has the decision already been made? In that case, there is little point in giving advice. What can you do if a decision has already been taken? That depends on all kinds of circumstances, and it is not easy to provide general advice on this. Send us an email with your specific question, and we will respond as soon as possible.
the request for advice to the Works Council contains the reasons why
In the request for advice, the management board must indicate why they want to make the decision. It must include all reasons or motives. This is also stated in the Works Councils Act.
the request for advice mentions the consequences for the employees
The impact on employees should also be clearly stated in the advisory report. Just as all measures to deal with this impact on employees. These two elements should be clearly included in the request for advice, according to the WOR.
how soon should you respond to the request for advice?
Sometimes (well, actually in most cases), the Director will mention in the request for advice a time limit for the expected response. This is a suggestion: it must be reasonable and you, as a Works Council, must be given enough time to provide a sound and well-founded opinion.
Do you disagree with the time limit? If so, please indicate as soon as possible when the Works Council intends to give advice.
the request for advice is delivered complete with all relevant information and appendices
The request for advice, or the appendices, must contain all the relevant information that the Works Council needs to provide a sound and well-founded opinion.
If the request for advice does not include all the information, and you do not have that information at your disposal, the Director must provide you with it. You are entitled to all, with the emphasis on all, the information you need to provide the right advice. And if you think you need it, that’s reason enough.
the Works Council discusses the request for advice during its own meeting
Upon receipt of the request for advice, the Works Council will meet to discuss it.
Use the Triple C Method, for instance.
You check whether you have all the information and/or what is still missing. You will also gather any questions about the content of the Works Council request for advice, to ask the Director.
You should also consider whether you would like to see some parts of the proposed decision changed and whether you would like to negotiate about this. There is always room for that; you can always negotiate about changes or improvements.
the Works Council can hire an expert for a request for advice
As a Works Council, you have the right to hire an expert if you think this will help you provide better advice. You can hire an expert for all the tasks that you think you need as a Works Council.
For example, an expert can do research for you, conduct the negotiations with the Director, help with writing a good and legally sound advisory report, or supervise the entire process of the request for advice as described here.
The costs of that expert must be reasonable, and the Works Council only has to provide the Director with an overview of the expert’s name and the estimated costs. The Director cannot influence the hiring process; the Director does not even have to give permission. The Director only has to pay.
at least one consultation meeting to discuss the request for advice
There must be at least one consultation meeting between the Works Council and the Director, with the request for advice on the agenda. This does not include the meeting during which the Director hands over the request for advice to the Works Council.
During that consultation meeting, the Works Council asks its questions and the Director provides answers and further explanation. Note: this is the start of the negotiations about what the Works Council wants and what the Director has not (yet) promised.
There are usually several meetings and exchanges of letters between the time the request for advice is submitted and the time the Works Council delivers its advisory report.
the Works Council provides advice
Once all the questions have been answered and the Works Council has a clear picture, it is time to draft the advice to the Director.
Now, it would be very easy to fill this article with everything you need to consider when writing the advice. Still, it is much easier to download the free eBook on consent and advice (in Dutch). This eBook contains sample letters for the advice (but also for the request for advice, request for consent and the actual consent). The book is filled with tips and examples.
the Director’s decision
Following the advice of the Works Council, the Director will inform the Works Council (in writing) about the decision as soon as possible. The Director will have to address each point in the advisory report and inform the Works Council about what the management board will do.
Does the Director disagree with one or more points? If so, this should be addressed, with the reasons for the disagreement.
the Director’s decision: not agreed
The Director does not agree and has indicated why not. That is an option, but in that case, the Director has to wait a month before they can implement the decision. In the meantime, the Works Council has time to think about what to do. In case of ‘not agreed’, the Works Council can appeal to the ‘ondernemingskamer’* (Enterprise Section) to prevent the Director from implementing the decision after that month.
the Director’s decision: agreed
If the Director agrees and adopts the advice of the Works Council completely, the Director only has to announce when the decision will be implemented. If the request for advice did not mention how the decision would be implemented, the Director will have to submit a new request for advice for that element.
that is how easy a request for advice is!
Now we’ve broken it down for you, it is not so complicated, is it? We tried to make it as simple and easy as possible.
Of course, the content of the request for advice can be complicated. And that can complicate the steps described above.
do you have any more questions?
Do you have any questions regarding these points? Are you not sure what to do next? Was the Works Council request for advice not clear? Or is the Director being uncooperative?
*part of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal
Note: Please note that we are a Dutch organisation and that all our information is originally composed in Dutch. For the benefit of our English-speaking customers we have translated some of our online information. We are still in the process of translating even more of our information. It could therefore be that you will come across Dutch pages on CT2.nl. Please contact us if you would like more information.