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Summaries of EU Legislation

Informing and consulting employees — European Works Councils

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Informing and consulting employees — European Works Councils


Directive 2009/38/EC — establishment of a European Works Council (or a system for informing and consulting employees working for Community-scale companies and groups of companies)



It aims to ensure information* and consultation* rights on transnational issues for staff in Community-scale* companies (with at least 1,000 employees) or groups* of companies. It achieves this by establishing a European works council or other appropriate procedures.


  • Through European works councils, workers are informed and consulted at transnational level by management on the progress of the business and any significant decisions that could affect them.
  • Central management is responsible for providing the information allowing negotiations to set up a European works council or information and consultation procedures.
  • The detailed arrangements are worked out between the central management and employee representatives sitting on a special negotiating body.
  • Employee representatives, or any experts who advise them, may not reveal information expressly provided to them in confidence.
  • Members of the European works council must have the means to apply the rights the legislation gives. This includes training of employee representatives without any loss of wages.
  • Initially, EU countries could exclude merchant navy crews from the legislation. However, they were included in an amendment adopted in October 2015 (Directive (EU) 2015/1794).


It entered into force on 5 June 2009. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 5 June 2011.


In 2016, the Commission services will examine the impact(s) of the implementation of Directive 2009/38/EC Directive, and in particular those resulting from the changes made to Directive 94/45/EC (the original legislation on European works councils which Directive 2009/38/EC replaced).


* Information: transmission of data by the employer to employee representatives to enable them to understand an issue and assess its impact.

* Consultation: dialogue between central management and employers' representatives to allow the latter to express an opinion.

* Community-scale company: one with at least 1,000 employees in more than one EU country and 150 staff in a minimum of 2 of them.

* Community-scale group of companies: a group with at least 1 000 employees overall, 2 companies in different EU countries and a 150 staff in a minimum of 2 of them.


Directive 2009/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees (Recast) (OJ L 122, 16.5.2009, pp. 28–44)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2009/38/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Directive (EU) 2015/1794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 2015 amending Directives 2008/94/EC, 2009/38/EC and 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Council Directives 98/59/EC and 2001/23/EC, as regards seafarers (OJ L 263, 8.10.2015, pp. 1–5)

last update 18.01.2016