A works council may be established in companies with five or more employees.
Works councils are in-house committees representing the interests of the employees within a company. Their activities range from information and non-binding consultation rights to exercising co-determination rights in organizational and social affairs. However, the works council is generally prohibited from becoming involved in corporate governance.
Rights regarding the formation of works councils are governed by the German Works Council Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz). Accordingly, works councils can be formed by the employees through election (no quorum required). Works council members are elected for four years by the employees in direct and secret elections. Candidates do not have to be union members.