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EU rules on employee representation

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EU rules on employee representation


Directive 2002/14/EC – general framework for informing and consulting employees in the EU



It establishes general principles on the minimum information* and consultation* rights for employees in companies based in the EU. National legislation and industrial relations’ practices determine how these are applied.


  • EU countries may:
    • choose whether the legislation applies to companies with at least 20 or 50 employees
    • establish special rules for companies essentially involved in political, professional organisational, religious, charitable, educational, scientific or artistic aims
    • determine that employers do not need to inform or consult employee representatives where this would seriously harm the company's operation.
  • Information and consultation covers data on a company's
    • recent and probable development, including economic situation
    • employment structure and probable development, especially if there is a threat to jobs
    • decisions that could lead to substantial changes in the way work is organised or in contractual relations.
  • Consultation must take place:
    • when the timing, method and content are considered appropriate
    • at the relevant management and employee representation level, depending on the issue being discussed
    • on the basis of the information the employer supplies
    • in a way that enables employee representatives to meet their employer and receive a response
    • with a view to reaching agreement on decisions that could lead to substantial changes in the way work is organised or in contractual relations.
  • Employee representatives and their advisors must not make public any information they have received in confidence.
  • The original legislation gave EU countries the possibility of excluding crews of vessels on the high seas. That exemption was removed by a 2015 amendment.


It entered into force on 23 March 2002. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 23 March 2005.


The European Commission consulted employer and employee representatives in early 2015 on whether to merge the following 3 directives into one legislative text: the general framework for information and consultation of workers, collective redundancies and transfers of undertakings.

The exercise is also considering whether the concepts of ‘information’ and ‘consultation’ could be better aligned.

Worker information and consultation


* Information: data given by the employer so employee representatives can be informed about an issue and examine it.

* Consultation: exchange of views and dialogue between employee representatives and the employer.


Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2002 establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community - Joint declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on employee representation (OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, pp. 29–34)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2002/14/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Consultation document: First phase consultation of Social Partners under Article 154 TFEU on a consolidation of the EU Directives on information and consultation of workers (C(2015) 2303 final of 10.4.2015)

last update 12.01.2016