The works council can be dissolved if it refuses to work with the HR Manager

Judgment of the Regional Labour Court of Düsseldorf of 23 June 2020 in Case No. 14 TaBV 75/19

The works council may be dissolved for grave dereliction of its statutory duties under the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG) where, over a longer period of time, the council refuses to work together with the HR Manager appointed by the employer.

Facts of the case

In 2018, a 13-person works council was formed at a work site where alloy wheel rims were produced. In September 2018, the council formally adopted a decision that it would no longer cooperate with the HR Manager designated by the employer as the key contact person and urged the company to appoint a new contact person. This refusal was actually implemented over a longer period of time and confirmed through decisions and correspondence. Attempts by the company to intervene and a warning issued under works constitution law both had no effect. The company then applied to the court of first instance to dissolve the works council.

The judgment

The Regional Labour Court confirmed the judgment of the Labour Court of Solingen in finding that the works council had breached its duty to work together with the employer in a spirit of mutual trust in accordance with § 2(1) Works Constitution Law. This constituted a grave dereliction of its statutory duties under § 23(1) of the Act and the works council should be dissolved as requested. There will be a grave dereliction of the works council’s statutory obligations when the violation is objectively manifest and grave. It should be noted that the dissolution of the works council is a particularly radical measure. Still, the Regional Labour Court saw a grave dereliction of duties in the fact that the works council refused to work together with the HR Manager designated as contact person. The works council formally adopted its position on this refusal and had implemented it in a sustainable manner. The employer has the right to organise its own affairs and appoint a contact person for the works council. Even if the HR manager had not conducted themselves in a manner compliant with the Works Constitution Act in all respects, the works council may not take measures and create a set of facts by refusing to cooperate. The works council should have instead sought aid from the legal measures available under the Works Constitution Act. Through its blockade mentality, the works council flouted the division of powers and responsibilities within the organisation.

Practical consequences

The judgment, which is no doubt welcomed by the employer, makes it clear that companies are free to designate a contact and negotiation partner for the works council. This derives from the company’s organisational right, that the works council must accept. The Regional Labour Court also expands on the jurisprudence of the Federal Labour Court, confirming that a de facto blockade stance taken by a works council, which makes it impossible for the works council and the employer to work together, will have legal consequences.

Practical tip

In general, like the removal of a member of the works council from office, the dissolution of the works council is subject to strict requirements. However, the judgment shows that it is possible to dissolve the works council in some cases. This penalty can therefore be considered and may be successful where the works council has committed similar grave breaches of duty.

Regina Holzer


Labour Law Work Council HR Manager

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