How to establish a works council (Betriebsrat) in 4 steps

29. May 2023
  • Labour Law

Your company is facing a crisis, the working conditions need improvement or you wish to improve the communication between staff and management? Then a works council helps, because it’s the democratically elected representation of you and your colleagues (“workers’ parliament”). Find out what a works council is good for.

By Rupay Dahm, specialist lawyer for labour law, Berlin

These are some basic steps to elect a works council at your workplace:

  1. Find at least two more colleagues to invite all employees to an assembly to appoint the electoral committee.
  2. The electoral committee consisting of at least 3 employees organises the electoral procedure according to the rules and regulations of the BetrVG (works constitution act) and WO (Wahlordnung, electoral regulations).
  3. The electoral board then draws up and publishes the electoral roll (Wählerliste).
  4. The candidates run on the candidate lists.
  5. Then the actual election procedure follows. There are two different kinds of procedure depending on the size of your company! Please contact us for advice on your particular case.

If you run a works council for the first time, the electoral regulations are challenging. Be sure to attend a proper training!

Protection against dismissal in case of works council elections:

By the way: German employment law protects you against dismissal. Many companies appreciate works councils as a facilitator for communicating with the staff and to detect and solve problems or discontent at an early stage. However, some bosses fear their authority to be undermined and vehemently oppose the establishment of a works council. This is where the law is on your side: Hindering the establishment or election of works council is a crime!

When does the protection start?

You have legal protection against dismissal as soon as you

  • invite to the electoral assembly,
  • candidate for the electoral committee or works council or
  • if you declare your will to start a works council in front of a notary (feel free to contact one if our notaries)

You are elected to the electoral board (Wahlvorstand) and need a training for the election procedure? Please feel free to contact us! We give trainings in German, English and bilingually in Berlin and throughout Germany. Just drop us a mail or call us.