POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Works Council

A work council is a group, delegated by employees to represent their interests to their employers. The works council attempt to secure the economic and social interests in the company and their employees in particular. Depending on the legislation, the work council can have rights concerning co-determination, consultation and the distribution of information within the company.

Example: German work councils

In Germany, every company who regularly employs more than five workers, has the right to set up a work council according to the “Betriebsverfassungsgesetz“ (Work Council Act). Every employee over 18 is eligible to vote. The election has to be organized by employees but paid by the company. The work council serves for a term of four years and elections usually take place between the beginning of March and end of May. They are an integral part of the German business model. By handing some level of control, and some level of influence to the employees, businesses are run in a more responsible manner.

Labor movement in North America

Work councils essentially provide similar services to their workers in companies as labor unions do on local, state, provincial and federal level. They also represent their members in terms of economic and social standards. In particular, collective bargaining over workers benefits, working conditions and especially wages. 

See also: Labor Unions, Voter Turnout, Regulatory Colleges, Electronic Voting, Poll, Co-determination

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