On April 23, 2020, the Bundestag passed the “Work of Tomorrow Act” (Arbeit-von-morgen-Gesetz). This law only needs to be discussed conclusively by the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) – which will presumably happen on May 15, 2020 – before it enters into force.
In addition to numerous improvements, e.g. with regard to the support of employees in receiving further training, the law contains important changes to the German Works Constitution Act.
In order to do justice to the current special situation in the companies, among others, sec. 129 of the German Works Constitution Act has been reformulated. The change is intended to ensure the works council’s ability to act in times of the corona pandemic where personal meetings are not possible. Under the previous law, works councils always had to meet in person to exercise their co-determination right effectively.
With retroactive effect from March 1, 2020, it will now be possible to hold effective works council meetings (as well as other bodies under works constitution law) and to pass works council resolutions by video and telephone conference. The requirement for that is, however, that it is ensured that third parties cannot take note of the content of the meeting. There is also a strict ban on recording the meeting. The necessary attendance list pursuant to sec. 34, para. 1, sent. 3 of the Works Constitution Act has to be maintained by the participants confirming their attendance to the chairman in text form.
Since the change in the law is to take effect retroactively, works council resolutions already made by remote communication during the past weeks will also take effect retroactively.
This temporary special regulation will also apply to conciliation committees and economic committees.
Furthermore, staff meetings can also be held by audiovisual means.
For now, the law change will be in effect until the end of the year.