A works council is a representative body of employees within an enterprise which in most European countries has a legal status and cannot be sidestepped or dissolved by employers. Under the German Works Constitution Act (“Betriebsverfassungsgesetz”), a works council should be elected in all establishments that normally have five or more permanent employees with voting rights. The members of the works council are elected by the entire workforce, and the works council’s duties are specified by law: the works council hears grievances, ensures that the employer complies with all labour laws and collective bargaining agreements, and bargains with the employers over personnel and social matters; including hirings, transfers, dismissals, hours of work, and plant rules.
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