international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

France: Future Revision of the European Works Council Directive

The European Works Council Directive of 6 May 2009 defines when and how such Councils must be put in place and their right to be informed and/or consulted on transnational issues.

Proposed changes include requiring companies to:

  • Consult the European Works Council not only when employees in more than one country are directly affected by the measures taken but also when the measures only directly impact the employees in one country but could indirectly impact employees in one or more other countries.
  • Consult the European Works Council before any decision is taken (currently only the case in 20% of consultations) and provide a detailed response to the opinion rendered by the European Works Council on transnational issues before taking any decision.
  • Provide explanations whenever confidentiality restrictions are invoked to limit the transmission of information to the European Works Council.
  • Provide details of the resources allocated to the European Works Council (budget to be used for training, legal costs and hiring of experts).
  • Organise at least 2 meetings per year (which was already the norm).

Moreover, proposed changes include requiring member states to take measures to:

  • Ensure gender balance both in the special negotiation group set up to negotiate the European Works Council collective agreement and also in the designation of future members (which could be difficult to achieve when a country is only entitled to nominate one member to sit on the European Works Council)
  • Facilitate access to legal and administrative remedies by European Works Councils.

The European Commission’s draft still needs to be examined by the European Parliament and the Member States and the calendar of activities is still to be determined.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel

Review your European Work Council collective agreement to identify what updates may be necessary.