European Works Councils


Tamsin Wallace, Eversheds Last Modified  26 August 2016

European Works Councils (EWCs) are consultative bodies representing the European workforce of a multinational organisation. Their purpose is to inform and consult employee representatives from across EEA member states about workplace change with cross-border implications. There are now around 1,000 EWCs in existence.

Key points

  • A business, or group of businesses, is required to establish an EWC, or a procedure, to inform and consult employees on transnational issues, only if it employs at least 1,000 employees throughout the European Economic Area (EEA - the EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and at least 150 employees in two separate EEA states, and it has received a valid request from employees or employees' representatives.
  • Once a valid employee request has been received, a Special Negotiating Body (SNB) must be established within six months to agree an EWC arrangement. The SNB representatives are selected or elected in line with the requirements of the EWC law in the member state from which they are appointed.
  • EWC information and consultation is triggered by transnational (as opposed to national) matters which concern the business or group of businesses as a whole, or at least two undertakings or establishments situated in two different EEA countries.
  • Employers could face a maximum £100,000 penalty if they fail to comply with the UK regulations. Employment protection exists for EWC and SNB representatives.