There are various European Union (EU) directives that require employers - under certain circumstances - to inform and consult with their workers' representatives.
The representatives can be trade unions and/or representatives elected by the workers to act on their behalf.
If you ever need to make collective redundancies in your EU business, you must discuss it with your workers' representatives.
These discussions must aim to find ways of avoiding collective redundancies. If redundancies are still required, you must try to agree with representatives on how redundant workers might be redeployed or retrained.
You must provide the representatives with information relating to the redundancy situation, including:
- the reason for the redundancies
- the period during which redundancies are being made
- the number and category of workers normally employed
- the number to be made redundant
- how you have selected those workers to be made redundant
- how you have calculated redundancy payments
You should give this information to the representatives in writing.
Transfers of undertakings
If there is a change of employer, both the old and the new employer must inform and consult workers' representatives from each businesses about the transfer.
Ongoing information and consultation at the national level
Businesses in the EU that employ at least 50 employees must meet some minimum requirements for informing and consulting employees.
You must keep your employees informed of:
- what the business is doing and the economic situation it faces
- what the employment situation is within the business
- any decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in the work organisation or contractual relations
You must also make sure employees' representatives have the time and information to carry out an adequate study and, where necessary, prepare for consultation.
Ongoing information and consultation at the transnational level
You may have to set up European Works Councils to inform and consult employees. This applies to 'Community-scale' groups of undertakings with:
- at least 1,000 employees across the member states
- at least two undertakings in two different member states - with at least 150 employees in two of the undertakings
Read more on European Works Councils.
The law in individual member states
Each member state has implemented the various EU directives into its own legislation, so there may be local variations. Therefore, you should check the specific situation in the member state concerned.
You can get advice on how laws take effect in particular EU countries using the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). This is a network of business advice partner organisations across the EU. Find your nearest partner.
It's also important to note that in some member states, management and workers have traditionally cooperated much more closely on issues affecting the business than in the UK.
Important: This information is still current but could change as a result of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. Any changes will be documented here. For more information, see Brexit support for employers.