General Works Council
The term general works council is described in Section 47 (1) of the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG): "If there are several works councils in a company , a general works council must be established."
The legal basis for this results in Germany from §§ 47–53 (BetrVG).
The existence of several works councils is possible if
- the company has several independent companies,
- a part of the business according to Section 4 (1) is considered an independent business , for example because the part of the business is spatially far away from the main business or is independent due to its area of responsibility and organization or
- it is agreed in a collective agreement in accordance with Section 3 that more than one works council is to be formed in a company (which can be considered in the case of a division organization, for example).
The general works council is primarily responsible if a matter affects the entire company or at least several companies and cannot be regulated by the individual works councils within their companies, i.e. a company-wide or cross-company regulation is objectively mandatory (cf. § 50 paragraph 1 BetrVG). This can arise for technical or legal reasons. The general works council is also responsible if a works council has delegated a matter falling within its area of responsibility to the general works council in accordance with Section 50 (2) BetrVG.
In the area of voluntary co-determination, the responsibility of the general works council can also arise, in deviation from the aforementioned requirements, due to the employer's unwillingness to accept individual company regulations. Then, from the point of view of the individual works councils, there is a “subjective impossibility of individual company regulation”. This can be assumed if the employer is only willing to undertake a measure, regulation or service in the area of voluntary participation across companies. If the employer can decide without co-determination whether to provide a service at all, he can make it dependent on an inter-company regulation and thus make the general works council responsible for the conclusion of a corresponding works agreement.
The general works council is not superordinate to the individual works councils. It is formed from delegated members of the works council. If membership in the works council ends, it also ends in the general works council. The general works council itself does not have a limited term of office like the works council, so it is a permanent institution. Each member of the general works council has a deposit voting right in accordance with Section 47 (7) , that is, his vote counts as many votes as there are eligible voters in the electoral roll in the company in which he was elected. If a works council sends several members, the voting deposit is divided proportionally. Each member of the general works council can only cast its votes uniformly. This applies even if it represents several works councils who have different views on the question put to the vote.
- Walther Behrens / Stefan Kramer, the commissioned general works council , in: DER BETRIEB (DB) 1994, 94–96