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Germany – Judges decide: agency workers count

15 March 2013

When companies establish works councils they have to take into account the number of temporary agency staff working on site. This is according to a recent ruling by Germany’s federal labour court (BAG) this week.

Works councils represent employees in companies, but their size is dependent on the number of people employed at the firm: the higher the headcount at a firm, the larger the works councils.  In order to establish a works council, the company has to employ at least five employees.

The BAG ruling could have major impacts on the formation of works councils as employee representatives could boost the size of their councils in the future.

Previous rulings had rejected claims that temporary agency workers should be regarded as regular staff when employees want to establish worker representation groups. The BAG now overturned these rulings and clearly decided that agency workers have to be taken into account when it comes to forming works councils.

A group of 14 employees had challenged earlier assumptions that agency workers are not part of the regular workforce and therefore had no influence on the size of the works councils. They successfully fought their case in front of the BAG. 

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