Works committee, also known as Works council is a permanent body created by elections from employees' representatives, based on legal conditions or collective agreements. Works committee speaks for all the company’s workers in a given place of work, regardless of their status as members of an union and it deals with presenting the issues and problems of the company's employees at the local level. It is a very useful instrument during collective bargaining because the Council is familiar with the special situation of employers. Works committees are also called consulative committees, office committees or joint panels.
Works council deals with contacts between individuals representing company’s employees and representatives of the employer or the employer itself. During such consultations, the parties talk about current issues of the company, about the problems and also exchange their opinions. Employees during such meetings have the opportunity to share their opinions on a specific topic and have their share in making decisions by the company's authorities. Thanks to the existence of the employees' committee, they have the possibility for better communication with the employer, and thus the reduction of conflicts and misunderstandings, as well as their quick resolution and additionally, thanks to the legislation, employees have more bargaining power.
Council members should be elected by employees whose interests they will represent. If a company has its own, established structure of trade unions, then several of its representatives may become members of the council in accordance with the law or, if necessary, elections may take place, and representatives of trade unions may also be candidates for councils. The main goal of works committee is to promote cooperation between employees and authorities in the company, for the benefit of the company and the creation of stable and enabling employment conditions, safety of all employees and helping them understand the operations taking place in the company, the basics of finance and competitiveness. Works council can also have a big influence on job satisfaction.
Tasks and duties of the Works committee
Works committee is responsible for:
- controlling and continuous checking of labor law, work safety, health and safety regulations,
- taking radical steps when the employer does not respect the employee's rights,
- giving current information about the company's activities, achievements, employment and everything that affects the company and employees,
- the right to jointly decide about the company and manage together with the company's authorities.
Effectiveness of the Works committee
Works councils are effective only when both parties are involved and care about proper relations between them. Managers have to take part in meetings and provide the necessary resources, such as money or time, to be sure that the roles entrusted are well fulfilled.
In addition, works councils are more effective thanks to:
- Constitution, discussed, created and approved by both parties or trade unions if necessary. This document defines, among others, the principles and rights of the council, the composition and objectives of the council, the method of selecting new representatives and the period of its establishment.
- The right number of people in the council can not be too small or too big. Too many people in the Council may cause problems with controlling the course of meetings as well as expressing all of the opinions. It is important to ensure that all the important representatives are included among the members.
- The chairman is the most important member of the committee, because as the person managing the meetings, the chairman will ensure that everyone can express their opinion and that discussions do not go beyond the topic of the meeting.
- Training in interpersonal skills for members is necessary for effective cooperation between members. It will allow them to quickly resolve conflicts and accept criticism.
- Regular meetings are necessary for the continuous involvement of all the members in the activities of the council and the company.
- Prior planning of topics and matters that are necessary to discuss during meetings. Such topics may concern: company's development, strategy or employment level.
- Works councils. Workplace representation and participation structures 2005, p.7
- What do works councils do for employees? 2013, p.61-64
- Works councils. Workplace representation and participation structures 2005, p.8
- ACAS advisory booklet 2008, p.7-8
- ACAS advisory booklet (2008) Representation at work, United Kingdom, p. 7-8
- Baradel A., Carley M., Welz C., (2005) Works councils. Workplace representation and participation structures European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin, p. 7-8
- Deshpande A.D., Geet S.D., (2009) Human Resource Management, Nirali Prakashan, p. 8-13
- Dietz G., Kougiannou K., Redman T., (2015) The Outcomes of Works Councils: The role of Trust, Justice and Industrial Relations Climate, Human Resource Management Journal
- Helmut Schmitt A., (2013) "What do works councils do for employees? p.61-65
- Jevtic M., (2012), The role of Works Councils and Trade Unions in representing interests of the employees in EU member states, Regional Project for Labour Relations and Social Dialogue in South East Europe, Belgrade
Author: Justyna Wicek