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Workplace Representation

There are currently two main bodies representing employees at the workplace, one dealing with employees’ day-to-day concerns and the other – in larger workplaces only – a joint employer/employee body intended to improve industrial relations in the workplace. Unions have important rights in this structure and the majority of employee representatives are union members. However, this whole structure is set to change, with legislation abolishing the joint body and giving greater powers to employee representatives being introduced in 2013.

Except in the smallest workplaces, those with fewer than 15 employees, workers in Luxembourg have a legal right to representation at work. The central element in representation at the workplace is the employee delegation, which is directly elected by all employees.

In larger companies, those employing more than 150, there is another works council type body, the joint company committee. This is chosen by the members of the employee delegation.

Unlike some other European countries, including neighbouring Belgium, there is no legally backed trade union presence at the workplace, but trade union influence in the system is effectively safeguarded by the fact that trade unions have a range of rights in the election and operation of the employee delegations. Overall the vast majority of members of employee delegations are union members.

Numbers and structure

Employee delegations should be set up in all workplaces with 15 or more employees.

Number of employees

Number of members











Thereafter one extra member for every 100 employees until 1,100; then one extra for every 400 employees until 5,500; then one extra for every complete block of 500 employees. There is no top limit.

Employee delegations consist entirely of employees. There is also guaranteed representation for young workers - aged under 21 - provided there are at least five.

The employee delegation elects a chair, vice-chair and secretary from its members and in larger workplaces additional members are also elected as part of a secretariat. The employee delegation must meet at least six times a year and can meet once a month in works time. It must meet the employer three times a year.

The joint company committee is a joint body, composed of equal numbers of representatives of the employer and the employees. It should be set up in all private sector bodies with at least 150 employees (see table for membership).

Number of employees

Number of employee members











The joint company committee is chaired by the senior representative of the employer but the secretary is chosen from among the employee representatives. It must meet at least once every three months.

Tasks and rights

There is a clear division of roles between the employee delegation and the joint company committee. The employee delegation is there to “safeguard and defend the interests” of the employees. The role of the joint company committee, on the other hand, is to provide a forum in which employer and employees can work together to improve industrial relations in the workplace.

An indication of the role of the employee delegation is the fact that it takes up employee grievances, both individual and collective, with the employer. And a member of the delegation can accompany any individual employee making use of the right to inspect any files the employer holds on them.

The employee delegation should be informed by the employer of the economic progress of the business, once a month where there is a joint company committee, three times a year where there is not. In limited companies it also receives an annual report on the progress of the business. It should also be given regular statistics on the gender breakdown of the workforce, covering recruitment, training, pay and promotion as well as total numbers employed.

The employee delegation must be consulted: on plans to improve working conditions, where it can also make its own proposals; on plans to change workplace regulations; on the introduction of part-time or temporary workers (where there is no joint company committee); and on large scale redundancies (although the consultation can also take place through the joint company committee or directly with the unions). A member of the employee delegation also has a specific health and safety role and there is also a member with particular responsibility for equality between women and men.

The employee delegation also participates in the running of social benefits, such as canteens, and in apprentice training (provided there are at least 150 employees.)

Members of the employee delegation who have been nominated by the unions, can undertake trade union tasks, such as putting up notices or distributing material, and, where necessary, collecting trade union subscriptions.

As a joint employer/employee body, the joint company committee must also be informed and consulted but it also has significant decision-making powers.

At least once a year the employer must provide a report on present and planned employment needs of the business, including training. In addition the joint company committee should be informed, at least twice a year, of its economic and financial development, including sales, orders, pay information and investment. And where the business is a limited company, the annual accounts must be presented to the joint company committee before they go to the annual shareholders’ meeting.

The employer is obliged to inform and consult the joint company committee about any financial or economic decision likely to have a significant effect on “the structure of the business or the level of employment”, including planned changes in the volume of production, investment policies, transfers and take-overs. There is also an obligation to inform and consult over changes in production methods, the introduction of new equipment and the introduction of part-time or temporary workers. The joint company committee can be one of the bodies consulted on large scale redundancies (see above).

In all these areas the final decision is taken by the employer. But there are some issues where the joint company committee itself decides. These are: the introduction of equipment intended to monitor the behaviour or the performance of employees (such as closed circuit cameras); measures linked to workplace health and safety; general criteria for recruitment, promotion or redundancy; criteria for employee appraisal; workplace regulations; and pay-outs from workplace suggestion schemes. Decisions must be supported by separate majorities of both the employer and employee representatives and where there is deadlock the issue goes to a national system of conciliation and arbitration.

The joint company committee also supervises the running of any social benefits, such as a canteen or sports club.

In all of its activities the joint company committee should ensure equal treatment of men and women.

Election and term of office

The employee delegations are elected every five years by all employees at the workplace. They can be nominated by the unions or by at least 5% of the total number of employees.

The employer representatives on the joint company committee are simply chosen by the employer. But the employee members are elected by the employee delegation. The term of office is also for five years.

Protection against dismissal

Dismissal of a member of the employee delegation on the basis of “serious fault” can only go ahead if agreed by the labour court, although the individual involved can be suspended on full pay. In the case of a member of the joint company committee, the dismissal must be accepted by the joint company committee, with disagreements between the employer and employee representatives going to the conciliation and arbitration procedure.

Time off and other resources

The employee delegation can meet on a paid basis once a month during works time. In addition the members have a right to additional paid time-off for their duties. In workplaces with up to 500 employees this is calculated on the basis of 40 hours time-off per week for every 500 employees. So the employee delegation in a workplace with 100 employees would be entitled to eight hours off (one fifth of 40). In larger workplaces one or more members of the employee delegation are completely freed from normal duties: 501 to 750 – one; 751 to 1,500 – two; 1,500 to 3,000 – three; 3,001 to 5,000 – four; 5,001 to 7,000 – five; and thereafter one extra for each additional 2,000. The member with responsibility for equality between women and men has the right to additional paid time-off ranging from four hours a month in workplaces with between 15 and 25 employees to four hours a week if there are more than 150 employees.

The members of the employee delegation also have the right to paid training during their five-year period of office. In smaller workplaces – 50 employees or below – this is one week over the five years, paid for by the state; in workplaces with between 51 and 150 employees it is two weeks, with one week paid by the state and one by the employer; in workplaces with more than 150 employees it is one week per year, paid by the employer. The member with responsibility for equality between women and men has the additional right to two half-days training a year, paid by the state in companies with 150 employees or fewer.

The employer must provide a room for the employee delegation to meet in; and, where one or more of its members are entirely freed from other duties, the employer should also provide an office and associated materials.

Both the employee delegation (provided there are at least 150 employees) and the joint company committee have the right to make use of trade union “advisers” who can participate but not vote in the meetings. These can be either other employees or external officials. In workplaces with less than 150 employees specific issues can be referred to the union for advice. (The employers’ representatives on joint company committees can also use employers’ federations as advisers.)

Representation at group level

There is no representation at group level but a central employee delegation is set up where there are several workplaces in a single business. This consists of three members from each of the workplace employee delegations. In these circumstances the joint company committee for the whole business is elected by all the members of the employee delegations in the different workplaces.

L. Fulton (2013) Worker representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI. Produced with the assistance of the SEEurope Network, online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.