To support Works Councils in preparing the Works Council rules of procedure, the SER has created a Model Rules of Procedure. This has been updated and is now ready for use.
Every Works Council in the Netherlands must have rules of procedure. This is documented in the Works Council Act (WOR). Drafting such rules of procedure can be challenging. That is why the SER has created a Model Rules of Procedure that Works Councils can use to draft their own Works Council rules of procedure.
But what are the Works Council rules of procedure? What should it include? And how do the SER Model Rules of Procedure help you to complete it correctly? We want to provide answers to these questions.
What are the Works Council rules of procedure?
In simple terms, the Works Council rules of procedure document the administrative rules of the Works Council. How are meetings organised? How do you make decisions? How are the elections organised? It simply provides context for the proper and correct performance of the work of the Works Council. The Works Council rules of procedure must not conflict with the WOR, nor can they prevent the appropriate application of the WOR.
The Works Council rules of procedure can only be drawn up and adapted by the Works Council. No approval from the employer is required, but new or amended rules of procedure must be submitted to the employer in advance.
The rules of procedure are not regulated so that any Works Council can provide its own flavour, within the legal framework. The rules of procedure must, however, include certain mandatory subjects; there are also all sorts of additional subjects that you can add. You can also include things that are useful for your Works Council or your organisation.
The Works Council rules of procedure are mandatory, and the Works Council is obliged to comply with the provisions of the rules of procedure.
mandatory subjects in the Works Council rules of procedure
According to the Works Council Act, the rules of procedure must include at least the following subjects:
- the election procedure, including the nomination of candidates, the determination of results and fulfilment of interim vacancies (WOR Article 10) (Dutch)
- how the Works Council works, including the interpretation of meetings and communication about this within the organisation (WOR Article 14) (Dutch)
additional subjects in the Works Council rules of procedure
The WOR also contains topics that the Works Council can add to the rules of procedure, such as:
- setting up electoral groups (WOR Article 9, Section 3) (Dutch)
- a different term of office (WOR Article 12, Section 2) (Dutch)
- a different number of Works Council members and appointing alternates (WOR Article 6, Section 1) (Dutch)
These subjects are not mandatory.
The contents of the Model Rules of Procedure
The SER’s Model Rules of Procedure contains model rules of procedures and information on:
- the Work Council’s tasks, powers, rights and duties
- the Works Council Act (WOR)
- agreements between the Works Council and the organisation
The Model Rules of Procedure shows you how you, as a Works Council, can draw up rules of procedure and what they should include. The SER has also developed a tool (Dutch) to create customised Works Council rules of procedure. The tool takes you through four steps to develop appropriate rules of procedure for your Works Council’s specific situation.
what has been updated?
The previous SER Model Rules of Procedure dates back to 2015. Several years later, the SER has drawn up new Model Rules of Procedure that consider the changing working conditions and legislation.
privacy and digital Works Council elections
For example, the new Model Rules of Procedure for the Works Council consider the privacy legislation (GDPR) in general and everything that has to do with digital Works Council elections. Especially now that much work is being done from home, almost all Works Councils organise their elections digitally. It is highly recommended to check your current rules of procedure using the free SER tool.
meeting quorum and digital conferencing
With the many digital meetings, it is also essential to take into account in your Works Council rules of procedure how you vote and/or how you have a quorum (sufficient Works Council members present) to make a decision. It all differs slightly from a regular physical meeting, and that must be well-defined in your rules of procedure.
updates in employee participation
The new Model Rules of Procedure also looks at other ways of organising employee participation. These include working with themes or sounding board groups, organising (digital) meetings or using digital platforms.
‘persons employed in the company’
The WOR always talks about ‘persons employed in the company’ when it comes to people who can run for a position in the Works Council, who can vote during the Works Council election or (most importantly) the group of people who are represented by the Works Council.
This has always been translated into ’employees with an employment contract with the Dutch organisation’, but there are now more and more different forms of ’employed persons’. These include people who work from home, temporary employees, and volunteers. These groups are now also being identified, in consultation with the director, as ‘persons employed in the company’ for the Works Council.
Most works councils only look at their rules of procedure just before the elections. They check how the elections must be organised and whether the rules of procedure need to be adjusted before the elections start. This often leads to frequently asked questions such as ‘we want to modify/abolish/introduce electoral groups, how do we do that?’ Or ‘our organisation has become bigger/smaller, what does that mean for the number of Works Council seats on the board?’ Or ‘we want to introduce/abolish a COR with Works Councils, can we do that?’
TIP: adjusting the Works Council rules of procedure is only allowed until the elections are announced. During the elections, the rules of procedure cannot be changed; you cannot change the rules during the game.
Some of these questions are easier than others because the situation is sometimes very specific to an organisation, and there is no general answer. But we are always happy to help clarify things. So, if these SER tools don’t offer you the solution you are looking for, ask us your question. Together, we are sure to find the best solution.
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.