Democracy at Work in the German Coalition Agreement

A step in the right direction

The coalition agreement contains positive and appreciative formulations on corporate democracy at work which provide a good basis for safeguarding it in the coming legislative period – also in view of the imminent national implementation of the EU Directive on cross-border transformations, mergers and divisions.

"For the first time, concrete plans to secure co-determination are mentioned in the coalition agreement. This is a great success for our work”, said Dr. Daniel Hay, Director of the Institute for Co-determination and corporate governance.

What's in the agreement?

For instance, the government parties have agreed on a substantial expansion of the scope of one-third participation in the supervisory board, which, however, should be supplemented by regulations on the inclusion of further company types.

In the European context, the government coalition explicitly wants to prevent an abusive circumvention of the current right of co-determination and to work to overcome the "freezing effect" of the European Company (SE). However, the formulations are quite vague, so that in further government action it must be specified that regulations against the abusive avoidance of co-determination must be made in both German and European law.

The government also plans to evaluate the Works Council Modernisation Act with regard to open design issues in the context of digitalisation and socio-ecological transformation. The results could be used to advance the further development of the Works Constitution.

What is also positive is the "digital right of access" for trade unions, which should be anchored in the Works Constitution Act. Moreover, the classification of obstruction of works council elections and works council activity will constitute an official offence.

However, in some other areas, the government did not follow the demands of trade unions and the provisions laid down in the SPD & Greens programme: democracy at work won’t be strengthened through an overcoming of the double voting right of the supervisory board chair, the new regulation of the appointment of the labour director or the abolition of the protection of tendencies in company co-determination.