The works council may, provided that legitimate interests of the employer do not conflict with this, require the employer to open an internet access and to set up separate e-mail addresses also for the individual members of the works council.
Pursuant to section 40 (2) of the Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG), the employer shall provide the works council with information and communication technology to the extent necessary for the day-to-day management of the works council. The assessment of whether a means of information and communication technology serves the fulfilment of works council tasks is a matter for the works council. The works council has a margin of appreciation. In making its decision, it must take into account the conflicting interests of the employer, including in particular the costs incurred by the employer. As the Federal Labour Court has repeatedly ruled, the works council may consider obtaining information from the internet as necessary for the performance of its duties. In exercising its discretion, it may also assume that the opening of internet connections for the individual members - for example, to prepare them for works council meetings - serves the fulfilment of the works council's tasks. The works council also does not exceed its margin of appreciation by deciding to provide its members with their own e-mail addresses for the purpose of external communication. Just like the procurement of information, the communication of individual works council members with third parties not belonging to the enterprise can be part of the works council's activities.
The Seventh Senate of the Federal Labour Court has therefore - in contrast to the previous instances - granted the applications of a works council which demanded that the employer open access to the internet for all members and set up their own email addresses. The employer's justified cost interests did not stand in the way of the demand, as the works council members are all employed at PC workstations, so that all that is required is the activation of the internet and the setting up of an email address.
Federal Labour Court, Order of 14 July 2010 - 7 ABR 80/08 -
Previous instance: Düsseldorf Regional Labour Court, order of 2 September 2008 - 9 TaBV 8/08 -
Source: Press release of the Federal Labour Court
See also on this topic our note on the decision of the Federal Labour Court of 20 January 2010 - 7 ABR 79/08 -. Entitlement of the works council to an internet connection
Goldberg Attorneys at Law
Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)
Specialist lawyer for information technology law (IT law)