Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Associations
In Luxembourg, the employees’ representation takes place on two levels: mandatory and voluntary. The registration of employers and employees in one of the 5 professional chambers is mandatory. In addition, both employees and employers can be members of a trade union on a voluntary basis. The employees have two general organisations concerning all workers: OGBL and LCGB. The main employer association is the UEL, while other sectors have their own trade unions, such as the ALEBA in the financial sector.
Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
The rate of employees who are members of a trade union is 30% (2015). The principle of union freedom is enshrined in article 11 of the Constitution. With the Law of 12 June 1965, the trade unions received the right to conclude collective agreements and to represent workers. The unions provide information and legal counselling in labour law matters and guarantee improvement of the social situation through the work of the staff delegations. The legislator has provided 5 professional chambers, including 3 employer chambers and 2 employee chambers including the main chamber: the Chamber of Employees (Chambre des salariés – CSL). The key mission of the professional chambers is to safeguard and defend the interests of the professional groups they represent. They have the right to submit proposals to the government on matters for which they are competent. The CSL also provides information about economic and social developments. Social peace is the objective in the Luxembourg social model. Employment law decisions are often taken after a consensus between employer chambers, employee chambers and government.
Types of Representation
Employers in the private sector or the public sector, who regularly employ 15 or more employees, are obligated to set up a staff delegation.
1. Number of Representatives
The size of the staff delegation and the works council, for the time the institution still exists, varies according to the number of employees represented.
2. Appointment of Representatives
Social elections take place every 5 years (or as soon as minimum requirements are met). The most recent national social elections were held on 12 March 2019. Since that date, the joint works councils have been abolished, so that now, there is only one central staff delegation at company level. The election may take place if an election notice has been published at least 1 month before the election date proposed. All company employees can vote in the election of staff representatives, provided they are at least 16 years of age on election day, linked to the company by an employment or apprenticeship contract, and have been with the company for at least 6 months on election day.
To be eligible as a workers’ representative employees must be: at least 18 years old on election day; continuously occupied at the company for the 12 months preceding the first day of the month in which the notice announcing the election is made; either Luxembourgish or a foreign national; and authorised to work in Luxembourg. In companies with between 15 and 99 employees, staff representatives will be elected according to the relative majority system. For companies with at least 100 employees, representatives will be elected according to the proportional vote system.
3. Tasks and Obligations of Representatives
The general mission of the staff delegation is the protection and defence of employees’ interests with respect to working conditions, security of employment and social status. Whenever a staff delegation is set up, employers are required to:
- periodically inform them about the business’s activities, corporate life and about environmental health and safety issues;
- inform and consult the staff delegation on the organisation of work and employment issues, etc.
- provide them, at least once a year, with a business activity report if the company employed less than 150 employees during the 12 months, which preceded the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
As from the last social elections in March 2019, the tasks and duties that were previously assigned to the joint works council, have been transferred to the staff delegations in companies with at least 150 staff during the 12 months prior to the day on which the new election was announced.
Employees’ Representation in Management
- Representation in a Public Limited Company
When a public limited company (“société anonyme”) has 1,000 or more employees over a reference period of 3 years, the board must have at least 9 members of which one third must be employees. The same obligation applies to public limited companies in which the state has a participation of at least 25%. These employee managers are elected by the staff delegates. The Labour Code foresees some exceptions; for example, in the steel industry, the employee managers are elected by the trade union. The employee managers also benefit from a special protection against dismissal.
Undertakings that employ at least 1,000 employees through different companies within the European Union and have at least 150 employees in two countries, must establish a European Works Council or a procedure for informing and consulting employees.
- Representation in European Companies
A specific representation of employees is also foreseen in European companies, which are elected by the staff delegates, as well as the creation of a special negotiating body representing the employees.
Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies
Each staff delegate must appoint a health and security delegate and a delegate for equal treatment. The health and security delegate has a mission of supervision and observation and the employer must consult the delegate on important subjects of health and security in the workplace. The mission of the delegate for equal treatment is to defend gender equality in relation to access to employment, training, promotion, remuneration and working conditions. The ITM also assumes additional responsibilities for management and staff delegation relations.