Collective employment law
Collective Labour Agreements
It is common practice in many industries for organisations of employers and employees (unions) to have agreements on the terms and conditions of employment for people who work in specific areas. In the Netherlands these agreements are set down in collective labour agreements (CAO). At the request of the relevant union, the Minister of Justice may declare a collective labour agreement to be binding for a certain period of time. In that case, every employer covered by the agreement in question is bound to abide by it. We can advise you as to whether you are bound to apply a collective labour agreement and whether there are any possibilities to deviate from one. We can also assist you should wish to set up your own collective labour agreements with the trade unions.
Any organisation that employs 50 or more employees is obliged to have a works council. Works councils have a number of powers, as laid down by law. For example, an employer must seek the advice of the works council in relation to a specific number of matters, such as closure of a division of the company or making of a major investment. In some cases, such as changes to the process of renumeration or evaluation, the consent of the works council is required. Such procedures usually run smoothly, but there are times the works council refuses to agree to the proposed plans, or issues a negative recommendation. We can help you set up a works council and also advise in matters requiring the advice or consent of the works council. We also assist works councils themselves.
Mergers, acquisitions – sooner or later, these matters affect almost every entrepreneur or organisation. What are the consequences for the employees of the company or organisation being taken over? Is it possible to establish new contracts of employment or to alter existing terms and conditions of employment? We can help you during both the actual merger or acquisition as well as afterwards, when the harmonisation of the terms and conditions of employment has to be dealt with.
Closures of businesses or organisations, or divisions thereof, alterations to the structure of organisations, downsizing or expansion – changes of this nature generally entail changes to the workforce. The right people have to be put in the right place, while others may have to leave because they no longer fit in the reshaped organisation. How should you go about this? We can offer you support and guidance throughout the entire process.
The purpose of a social plan is to ensure the negative consequences of a reorganisation are absorbed as effectively as possible and that equal cases are treated equally. Social plans describe very detailed which measures an employer has to take in respect of employees who are affected by the reorganisation in question. These include not only a redundancy scheme for employees whose contracts are terminated, but also the deployment of an outplacement agency, or a description of a programme for redeploying employees to other appropriate positions. A court is less likely to derogate from a social plan that has been approved by a works council than one that has been drawn up unilaterally by the employer. A social plan approved by the trade unions offers virtually no scope at all for accommodating any separate circumstances that apply to specific individuals. We can advise you not just in relation to the content of a social plan, but can also assist you in obtaining the approval of your works council or the agreement of trade unions.