The Works Council is independent and legally has the option to hire an external consultant. But how do you do that as a Works Council?
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the independent works council
In every aspect, the Works Councils Act (WOR) is aimed at making the Works Council as independent as possible. That is why all the costs (Dutch) of the Works Council that are incurred to perform work for the Works Council are to be paid by the Director. Also, the Director must provide all facilities and pay the wages (Dutch) for the Works Council members covering the work for the Works Council, because if you were to pay that for yourself as a Works Council member, you would not be free and independent to do the Works Council work.
the costs of Works Council training / Works Council off-site team days
Although the WOR still calls it ‘education and training’ (Dutch) of the Works Council, we mean Works Council training or Works Council off-site team days. The Works Council is allowed to take 5 training or off-site team days a year, compensated by the Director. The article ‘guideline amount for Works Council training: determined by the SER’ provides you with more information about the amounts you are entitled to.
“when does the Works Council hire an expert?”
The legislator also understands that as a Works Council, you cannot always know everything you need to know, as the management of the organisation may do. And doesn’t the Director also regularly hire external offices or experts to consult them?
If the Works Council thinks that it is difficult to have a well-founded opinion about something or if the Works Council simply does not understand something, it has the right to hire an expert (Dutch).
Many Directors will say that the Director who wrote the request for advice or the HR manager who made the plan can also explain everything to the Works Council. The question here is: is this explanation independent? And can you, as the Works Council, ask the necessary questions about that?
“what kind of experts can the Works Council hire?”
As a Works Council, you can hire all kinds of experts that you consider necessary, within reason. A few of the possibilities:
“in which situations do I hire an expert?”
This is very straightforward; if you, as Works Council, think that it is necessary, you hire an expert. Typical situations where Works Councils hire an expert, in random order, are:
“How do I find the (best) expert for the Works Council?”
Ask your Works Council trainer, ask fellow Works Council members, check the internet. These are actually the most straightforward ways to find an expert. But always make sure you conduct a thorough intake interview with the expert before you hire them. The expert must understand you as a Works Council member, understand the organisation and know what your question is. The expert should be providing you with an honest answer about how they will handle all that.
“what about the costs of the expert?”
In principle, you can hire anyone you think is the best person to advise or assist you. The only condition is that the costs should be ‘reasonable’. So, if you hire a lawyer, it should not be the most expensive lawyer in the Netherlands. But you should hire someone who has good judgment in the right jurisdiction and can provide you with adequate advice.
“the next step: how does a Works Council hire an expert?”
The legal rules for hiring an expert are simple: you, as a Works Council, are the only one who can decide which expert you hire and when you will hire them. There is no one, inside or outside the organisation, who can or may stop you.
The Works Council must inform the Director in advance that they are going to hire an external expert. You do this by providing the Director with a time estimate/cost overview for the expert. The Works Council does not have to ask the Director for permission to hire an expert.
“is the Director required to pay the costs of the expert?”
The rules of the WOR and the court rulings are very clear: the Director pays. The only thing the expert needs to do is write a letter stating three things: the estimated number of hours the expert will be working, the estimated amount it will cost and the expert’s address details.
The Works Council only has to hand that expert letter to the Director. The Director cannot have an opinion about it or comment on it. Based on the WOR, the Director is required, after receiving the expert’s time estimate, to pay the expert. Of course, a Director can object, but as long as the hiring of the expert is ‘reasonable’, all court rulings so far have sided with the Works Council.
“what about confidentiality?”
Article 20 (Dutch) of the WOR documents the confidentiality for Works Council members and anyone who the Works Council hires to work on behalf of the Works Council. This also regulates the privacy of experts that are hired by the Works Council.
Do you have questions about hiring an expert for the Works Council, or are you looking for someone with a particular skill or quality to hire as an expert? We will be happy to help you on your way with all our knowledge and our extensive network.
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.