Works Constitution Act (Germany)

Full citation: Works Constitution Act as promulgated by the Act of 25 September 2001, Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt), Part I, p. 2518, last amended by Art 3 Law of the April 20, 2013 (Bundesgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 868)

• 80 – General duties
• 87 – Right of co-determination
• 89 – Health and safety as well as environmental protection at work

Section 80
General duties

(1) The works council shall have the following general duties:

1. to see that effect is given to Acts, ordinances, safety regulations, collective agreements and works agreements for the benefit of the employees;

2. to make recommendations to the employer for action benefiting the establishment and the staff;

2a. to promote the implementation of actual equality between women and men, in particular, as regards recruitment, employment, training, further training and additional training and vocational advancement;

2b. to promote reconciliation of family and work;

3. to receive suggestions from employees and the youth and trainee delegation and, if they are found to be justified, to negotiate with the employer for their implementation; it shall inform the employees concerned of the state of the negotiations and their results;

4. to promote the rehabilitation of severely handicapped persons and other persons in particular need of assistance;

5. to prepare and organise the election of a youth and trainee delegation and to collaborate closely with said delegation in promoting the interests of the employees referred to in section 60 (1); it may invite the youth and trainee delegation to make suggestions and to state its view on various matters;

6. to promote the employment of elderly workers in the establishment;

7. to promote the integration of foreign workers in the establishment and to further understanding between them and their German colleagues, and to request activities to combat racism and xenophobia in the establishment;

8. to promote and safeguard employment in the establishment;

9. to promote health and safety at work and the protection of the environment in the establishment.

(2) The employer shall supply comprehensive information to the works council in good time to enable it to discharge its duties under this Act; such information shall also refer to the employment of persons who have not entered into a contract of employment with the employer. The works council shall, if it so requests, be granted access at any time to any documentation it may require for the discharge of its duties; in this connection the works committee or a committee set up in pursuance of section 28 shall be entitled to inspect the payroll showing the gross wages and salaries of the employees. The employer shall provide knowledgeable personnel as informers to the works council, if necessary for the proper discharge of its functions, having due regard to the suggestions of the works council, except where this is precluded by imperative operational requirements.

(3) In discharging its duties the works council may, after making a more detailed agreement with the employer, call on the advice of experts in as far as the proper discharge of its duties so requires.

(4) The informers and experts shall be bound to observe secrecy as prescribed in section 79, mutatis mutandis.

Section 87
Right of co-determination

(1) The works council shall have a right of co-determination in the following matters in so far as they are not prescribed by legislation or collective agreement:

1. matters relating to the rules of operation of the establishment and the conduct of employees in the establishment;

2. the commencement and termination of the daily working hours including breaks and the distribution of working hours among the days of the week;

3. any temporary reduction or extension of the hours normally worked in the establishment;

4. the time and place for and the form of payment of remuneration;

5. the establishment of general principles for leave arrangements and the preparation of the leave schedule as well as fixing the time at which the leave is to be taken by individual employees, if no agreement is reached between the employer and the employees concerned;

6. the introduction and use of technical devices designed to monitor the behaviour or performance of the employees;

7. arrangements for the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases and for the protection of health on the basis of legislation or safety regulations;

8. the form, structuring and administration of social services whose scope is limited to the establishment, company or combine;

9. the assignment of and notice to vacate accommodation that is rented to employees in view of their employment relationship as well as the general fixing of the conditions for the use of such accommodation;

10. questions related to remuneration arrangements in the establishment, including in particular the establishment of principles of remuneration and the introduction and application of new remuneration methods or modification of existing methods;

11. the fixing of job and bonus rates and comparable performance-related remuneration including cash coefficients;

12. principles for suggestion schemes in the establishment;

13. principles governing the performance of group work; group work within the meaning of this provision is defined as a group of employees performing a complex task within the establishment’s workflows, which has been assigned to it and is executed in a largely autonomous way.

(2) If no agreement can be reached on a matter covered by the preceding subsection, the conciliation committee shall make a decision. The award of the conciliation committee shall take the place of an agreement between the employer and the works council.

Section 89
Health and safety as well as environmental protection at work

(1) The works council shall endeavour to ensure that the provisions on safety and health at work and accident prevention as well as environmental protection are observed in the establishment. It shall support the competent occupational safety and health authorities, the statutory accident insurance institutions and other relevant bodies in their efforts to eliminate safety and health hazards by offering suggestions, advice and information

(2) The employer and the bodies referred to in the second sentence of subsection (1) shall be obliged to invite the works council or the members it delegates for that purpose to participate in all inspections and issues relating to safety and health at work or the prevention of accidents and inquiries into accidents. The employer shall also consult the works council concerning all inspections and issues relating to environmental protection in the company, and shall immediately inform it of any conditions imposed and instructions given by the competent bodies relating to safety and health at work, the prevention of accidents, or environmental protection in the establishment.

(3) For the purposes of this Act, environmental protection in the establishment comprises all personnel and organisational measures as well as all measures relating to the establishment’s buildings, rooms, technical equipment, working methods, working processes and work places that serve the protection of the environment.

(4) Members delegated by the works council shall take part in discussions between the employer and the safety delegates within the context of section 22 (2) of the Seventh Book of the Social Code.

(5) The works council shall receive from the employer the minutes of inquiries, inspections and discussions in respect of which subsections (2) and (4) provide for its participation.

(6) The employer shall supply the works council with a copy of the accident notification to be signed by the works council under section 193 (5) of the Seventh Book of the Social Code.