Works council meetings by video or phone conference?

On April 08, 2020, the Federal Government adopted changes regarding co-determination at company level. According to the government draft, the possibilities for the works councils to pass resolutions will be extended and the ability of the staff representatives to act will be ensured. The  planned revision of the Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG) allows staff representatives to pass resolutions via video and telephone conference for the time being, as long as it is made certain that third parties cannot gain knowledge of the contents of the meeting. This will also apply to conciliation bodies. The regulation is valid until December 31, 2020 and aims to avoid, as far as possible, face-to-face meetings with a high risk of infection, while at the same time ensuring that staff representatives are able to act and reach a quorum. In order to ensure that resolutions already passed via this form of communication remain legally effective, the regulations will take effect retroactively as of March 1, 2020. In addition, the Federal Government has decided that existing staff representatives will remain in office as acting representatives until the end of the elections and will represent the interests of the employees during this period. This rule also applies retroactively as of March 1, 2020 and is valid until March 31, 2021. The changes are expected to be introduced and passed in April by the government fractions in the German Parliament.

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