What about the role of a European Works Council?

What about the role of a European Works Council?
In these troubled times of COVID-19, the very existence of a European Works Council (EWC) is a blessing in a multinational group based in Europe.

In these troubled times of COVID-19, the very existence of a European Works Council (EWC) is a blessing in a multinational group based in Europe. This type of body is not new at all, it dates back to 1994. See here the initial directive of the European Commission

How to hold European Works Council meetings with lockdown?

The current situation causes stir and trouble for many companies and a fortiori for international corporations endowed with a multilingual European Works Council. There are some new rules rolled out for the lockdown period in Europe and the members of the European Union. For instance, you can find your country directive regarding safety and health at work here for workers

Could you hold EWC meetings online using videoconferencing platforms?

To a special situation, a special way of gathering all the members of your EWC. If in-person meetings are forbidden by current recommendations from the WHO and your government, then these meetings could be held online. The choice of the relevant videoconferencing platform pertains to every Council and should definitely be guided by the core principles of security, confidentiality and the quality of the tool itself. These principles should also focus on the health of all the stakeholders from the representatives of the employees and those of the management. You have to be aware that using online platforms could damage your hearing if not used properly. For more information on this regard, please contact us (contact@belangeintl.com) and we will happily send you guidelines to have a proper setup for your EWC online meeting. It matters even more if it’s your first one, and that you are totally aware of the health hazards implied with the use of a videoconferencing platforms and inadequate headsets. You would not want your online attendees to see their hearing damaged because they used inadequate headset or lack thereof; would you?

Nevertheless, these EWC meetings also entail the multilingual approach much needed and even required for those who don’t master the corporate language, be it English, French, German or another European language.

In regular times, these European Works Councils should be dedicated to let’s say hygiene matters, employment litigations, termination issues, working conditions but these days the exact understanding of the safety and protection measures has become paramount for these talks. Hence the need of having such details disclosed in the language spoken by the European Workers representatives becomes vital.

Good practices and proper interpretation of these rules are vital for the company and their staff.

How could you achieve this goal?

You should keep in mind that your consultant interpreter is often a translator and consequently capable of translating your safety materials ahead of the online meetings. Plus, your interpreter can also guarantee the consistency of the translations and therefore a stricter compliance with these life-saving rules.

On top of this, you can always rely on your consultant interpreter to provide you with the relevant platform to operate these sensitive multilingual online meetings.

Drop us a line at contact@belangeintl.com if you need more guidance or a full quote on the multilingual platform and the skilled interpreters you need to make your EWC online meeting as smooth as possible.

Please find below a short recap of the conditions required for a European Works Council to be set up within an international group with a strong European presence in several countries.

  • The company employs a minimum of 1000 employees within the EU member states. At least, 150 workers pertain to at least two member states each. These are minimum requirements to establish any EWC under the EC directives.
  • The idea and creation of the desired EWC must stem from the will of the management and/or the workers. It cannot, in any way, be forced upon them by any external organization or individual.
  • An agreement will be the matter of a contractual negotiation between the staff representatives and the top management. This agreement will constitute the back spine of any further decision taken by the EWC.
  • The period of time allocated to come up with an agreement cannot last longer than three years.
  • The agreement reached by the members of the EWC should always stipulate the legislation under which any dispute should be solved.
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