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Working council in Covid-19 pandemic (Germany)
Works councils do not have it easy, even in the Covid-19 crisis. Until now, all decisions were made in joint offline meetings and the meetings were regular. Many works councils have also ended their regular meetings with the Covid-19 crisis, but all the more want to work together with their own company right now. It is also extremely important, especially in these times of rapid change, that the works council is involved. Currently, for example, video conferencing systems are being introduced or even entire home office and remote solutions. These highly complex new IT systems require the involvement of the works council.
The federal government envisions amendments to the Works Constitution Act and the Federal Personnel Representation Act. “This is intended to expand the opportunities for works councils to pass resolutions, ensure the ability of staff councils to act, and secure the conclusion of staff council elections. The federal government’s proposals are currently part of the German Bundestag’s deliberations.”
Audio and video conferencing
Works councils will be given the go-ahead until December 31, 2020 to have all meetings also conducted in video and audio conferences. This is intended to minimize the risk of infection and protect individuals. Resolutions passed via this form of communication remain valid. This regulation is retroactive to March 1, 2020.
In discussions, for example, with Microsoft Germany and its works council, as well as various other companies, the following measures are emerging:
virtual meetings via a company video platform such as Microsoft Teams.
virtual resolutions to be made up later in an offline meeting
virtual resolutions for the real world
meetings with company representatives are moved to the virtual world and processes remain in place.
These measures are covered according to the federal government and upcoming legal changes. This will allow works councils to use Microsoft Teams, for example.
Update April 23, 2020
The Bundestag passes the new regulation, which is limited until January 1, 2021. Works councils will thus also be able to pass resolutions online. The amendments thus legally secure online decisions by works councils.