News - Netherlands

Netherlands - January 2012

Amendment of the Dutch European Works Councils legislation implements Directive changes

Following changes to the amended Dutch European Works Councils Act (Wet op de Europese Ondernemingsraden or “WEOR”) additional duties have been imposed on employers.

On 15 November 2011, the amended WEOR entered into force.  The amended WEOR applies only to those European Works Councils (“EWCs”) established between 5 February 1997 and 5 June 2009.

The purpose of the amendment is to implement the European Directive on the establishment of EWCs.  While the WEOR introduced a number of changes the 2 most important are: (i) the date on which information is provided, and (ii) the renegotiation obligation in case of significant changes to the company structure.  Details of these changes are set out below.

The date on which information is provided

The former WEOR did not provide for a specific date by which the managing board was obliged to supply information and/or consult their staff representatives on cross-border matters.  The amended WEOR requires that information about cross-border matters must be provided to the staff representatives in sufficient time for the staff representatives to form a well-founded opinion about the implications and, if desired, to consult the managing board or another management body.  Under the amended WEOR, the consultation of the staff representatives must take place on a date that will enable the staff representatives to produce an advisory opinion within a reasonable period of time based on the information provided, and that will enable the managing board to give due consideration to the advisory opinion in making their decision.

In practice, the date on which the staff representatives have to be informed and consulted will depend on the circumstances of each individual case.

Renegotiation obligation

The second important change to the WEOR is the rule that the managing board should initiate negotiations on the EWC agreement in the event of a significant change to the company structure.  This may be with regard to a merger, an acquisition, or a de-merger.

For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Klaas Wiersma on + 31 20 578 59 60.