The equivalent in the public sector of the works council in the private sector. A staff council must be formed in every public sector establishment with at least five employees including career public servants ("Beamte"), white-collar workers and manual workers . Its legal basis lies in the Federal Staff Representation Act (Bundespersonalvertretungsgesetz) and the staff representation laws of the individual Länder.
In terms of the individuals concerned, the composition of the staff council is determined by the outcome of staff council elections . The statutory regulations, however, stipulate that every employee group with a presence in a public sector establishment must have at least one representative on the staff council. The actual number of such representatives depends on the total number of members of the group. The size of the staff council itself is calculated on the basis of the number of people employed in the public sector establishment concerned. The term of office is normally four years.
The internal structures of the staff council are laid down by law. It must elect an executive board which includes at least one representative of every group present in the council, each group electing its own board member. The staff council also elects the chairperson and a vice-chairperson. The chairperson represents the council in the context of the decisions it takes. These are arrived at by an absolute majority vote of the members present. The costs of the staff council's activities are borne by the public sector establishment; this includes reimbursement of travel expenses, accommodation facilities and office staff where applicable. In public sector establishments with more than 300 employees, staff council members are granted full-time release from work.
The activities of the staff council consist essentially in exercising its participation rights, in which it is required, together with the public-sector establishment head , to maintain amicable co-operation in good faith . Its participation rights are structured along similar lines to those under the works constitution in the private sector, with information and consultation rights mainly in personnel matters, and co-determination rights in the context of social matters. In all these areas the staff council reaches its decisions by formal resolution. In cases where a matter to be decided concerns only one of the employee groups represented, that group alone is involved in reaching the decision. The council can also exercise its co-determination rights in concluding an establishment agreement with the head of the public sector establishment. If it proves impossible to come to an agreement, the matter can be referred to the establishment-level arbitration committee .
In all cases, the precondition for the exercise of participation rights is that the public sector establishment concerned should possess the authority to regulate the matters in question. Furthermore, if no agreement can be reached authority passes to the next-higher administrative level and the administrative-tier staff representation body associated with it.
Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.