Broader powers for Works Council: right of consent under Arbowet in 2017?



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Last week we addressed the broadening of the Works Council’s right of consent in the field of pensions. That’s not the end of the matter as far as the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament is concerned. It recently adopted a proposed amendment to the Arbowet (Working Conditions Act) that will give the Works Council a right of consent regarding the appointment of a health and safety officer. The objective of the Act is to improve occupational healthcare for both the employer and the employee.
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CLINT | Littler

+31 20 8200 330

Health and safety officer

The intention is to give the Works Council a right of consent regarding the appointment of a Health and Safety Officer. He or she will play an important role with regard to the health and safety policy, by working together closely with e.g. the company doctor and other experts. The consultation between the company doctor, the health and safety officer and the Works Council will furthermore no longer be facultative, but will be recorded in the law. In sum, that will allow employees to directly influence the health and safety policy. In addition to the right of consent, other aspects of the legislative proposal are also relevant to the Works Council. The newly introduced basic contract, for instance, will allow the Works Council to easily and transparently check whether the employer is complying with all the agreements and obligations under the Working Conditions Act.

In a nutshell

The Works Council’s right of consent forms part of the legislative proposal to amend the Working Conditions Act that Minister Asscher sent the Lower House on 22 December 2015 already. That legislative proposal provides for a broadening of the health and safety policy. It will allow an employee, for instance, to request a second opinion of another company doctor of his or her choice. The employee’s right to be consulted by a company doctor will also be recorded in the law. A basic contract will furthermore be introduced in which the employer, together with the occupational health services provider, records agreements that both parties must observe, such as agreements regarding rehabilitation measures and pre-appointment medical examinations.

Employers were already required by law to draw up a Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E). Employers will now also have to arrange for regular assessment of the RI&E and offer expert assistance in the event of occupational or other diseases. The Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate will have the right to take enforcement measures in the event of failure to comply with one of these duties.

The Upper House will debate the bill in the near future. If it is adopted, it will most likely enter into force in early 2017.


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CLINT | Littler

+31 20 8200 330

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