No laptop for works council

It depends on the specific circumstances of the individual case whether a works council with eleven members, which is already provided with two personal computers, can claim to be provided with an additional laptop.

The defendant runs a freight company with 350 employees. Its works council, which has eleven members, already works with two internet-enabled computers. The works council’s request for an additional laptop was rejected by the Labour Court (Arbeitsgericht). The works council appealed the Labour Court’s decision.

According to sec. 40 para 2 of the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG) the employer is obliged to provide required material resources as well as information and communication equipment for the work council’s day-to-day-management. The Higher Labour Court in Hessen (Landesarbeitsgericht Hessen; docket no: 16 TaBV 219/15) stated on 25 July 2016 that the works council’s request must be assessed in relation to the actual circumstances in the business establishment. The court stated that a weighing of interests must take place, taking into account not only whether the requested material resource serves the works council’s statutory tasks, but also the employer’s interests (including financial aspects). The court rejected the claim at the basis of no evident reason was shown that two desktop computers are not sufficient for the works council’s activities. That would only be the case if more than two works council’s members had to usually work at a computer at once. Furthermore, at the defendant’s company the provision of laptops is not common. In addition, the court considered that the employer is willing to provide the works council a laptop in specific cases for a certain period, e.g. meetings of the works council and that the costs of the provision of a laptop would be significantly higher than the provision of a desktop computer.