Who can vote for the Works Council?
Employees of N26 GmbH or N26 Operations GmbH who are not in managerial positions can vote for the Works Council.
This means that the following employees are also entitled to vote:
- employees on probation
- employees on Kurzarbeit (also 100% Kurzarbeit)
- employees on vacation
- employees on sick leave
- employees on parental leave
- employees in their notice period (regular dismissal)
- employees with limited contracts
Do I have to take time off to go to vote?
No, you do not. The voting for the Electoral Board and for the Works Council, including getting to the venue and back to the office, counts as work, so no time off is needed.
How do you ensure the health and safety of participants of the Electoral Board meeting given COVID19?
Our Health & Safety concept has been drawn up in collaboration with legal experts.
The venue we selected accommodates up to 500 people with proper physical distancing. N26 Operations GmbH has less than 500 employees, so even if all of them decide to participate, the meeting can go ahead. N26 GmbH has more employees than 500; however, with holidays, illness and travels, we anticipate that not all of them will come to the Electoral Board meeting. In the (very unlikely) event that 500 or more people turn up, the meeting will have to be postponed.
The contact details of each participant will be collected and kept for the time required by law.
At the entrance, we will check the identity of each participant to ensure that no unauthorized or external people can enter. On the 13th of August, only employees of N26 Operations GmbH can enter. On the 14th of August, only employees of N26 GmbH can enter.
If you experience symptoms of a cold, flue and/or COVID19, or you were told to quarantine, please do not come to the meeting! After the Electoral Board is set up, you will still be able to vote for the delegates for the Working Council.
Why isn’t the Electoral Board meeting held at the office? Is it going to be in a public place?
Due to COVID-19 regulations, we had to rent a venue that can accommodate all employees with the required social distancing. This is not possible at the office at the moment.
The venue is completely reserved for us. The identity of everyone entering will be verified, and no unauthorized persons can attend or overhear the meeting.
Who can become a candidate for the Works Council?
Anyone who has been an employee of N26 GmbH or N26 Operations GmbH for at least 6 months can become a candidate (as long as they are not in a mangerial position).
What do I need to do if I want to become a candidate for the Works Council?
You must have been in the company at least 6 months. The Electoral Board will provide further information about deadlines and further details after the 14th of August.
Can I run for election in the Works Council if I don’t know German laws/don’t speak German?
Yes, you can! Works Council members can attend training regarding German labour law, negotiation and representation. Plus, we have the backing of one of Germany’s biggest unions, ver.di.
Do I need to fear any repercussions if I become a candidate for the Works Council?
Candidates are protected from (regular) firing for 6 months. If they are elected, they cannot be fired during their term (4 years). Any attempts to pressure, intimidate, threaten or influence candidates is against German law.
Do I need to work overtime for the Works Council?
No, any work/training you do in connection to your Works Council duties has to come out of your regular working hours.
What if my manager tries to drown me in work so that I don’t have time to do my Works Council duties?
All members of the Works Council are allocated time to carry out their Works Council duties. The works councils operate on a voluntary basis, i.e. the members are not paid extra money for what they do. However, the tasks of the works council are done during regular working hours. So the employer must release the members of the works council for a certain number of hours.
Why are the people who signed the invitation for the election from the same team?
There was a limited number of people that came together and started consultations in order to install a Works Council and they were willing to sign the invitation for the election. This does not stop anyone from standing for the position of member of the Works Council and we encourage anyone interested to do so.
Aren’t Works Councils for underpaid factory workers? Why does a tech company need one?
Most employees at Berlin startups are foreigners. Many of them don’t speak German, don’t know their rights guaranteed by German law, or don’t have a support network to fall back on. Many companies take advantage of this, and fail to inform their employees of their legal rights regarding sick leave, limited contracts, overtime or Kurzarbeit. Plus, not everyone working at a tech company is equally privileged. A software engineer may have more job security, and a big enough financial “cushion” to fall back on in case they get fired for asking too many questions or making demands. However, they may find themselves reporting to manager unresponsive to their concerns, or be targeted by bullying or discrimination. Others might desperately need their job for visa purposes or financial reasons, or they feel they cannot risk speaking up because they are on a limited contract.
Shouldn’t employees just talk to the company’s management instead of forming a Works Council?
Many of us have tried for years: individually, at the all-hands, on Slack, in the Engagement Surveys, with very little success: suggestions were turned into empty gestures or completely disregarded. Forming a Works Council gives employees real, legally binding power to make their voices heard.
Isn’t a Works Council too confrontational? Will it just contradict everything the management wants?
A Works Council is not about confrontation: its purpose is to work for the success of the company, with a particular focus on the proper treatment of employees.
Of course, confrontation is inevitable in some situations, like when short-term financial considerations are prioritised over employee well-being. The Works Council will collaborate with management to create the most optimal way forward for N26 that is fair for everyone and in line with German labour laws.
Will a small group of employees now tell the whole company what to do?
Absolutely not! The 3 people who signed the invitation only volunteered to be on the Electoral Board – that is, coordinate the election of the Works Council members. These are elected democratically by all employees of N26 Gmbh and N26 Operations GmbH.
Isn’t a Works Council just another layer of bureaucracy?
Works Councils have real power in Germany. Whenever individual employees raise issues or make suggestions, management can choose to accept or ignore them at their leisure. In contrast, a Works Council in Germany has wide-ranging rights guaranteed by law: management needs to consult the Works Council for hiring, promoting or firing employees, contract renewals, shift planning and overtime, the physical office environment and much more.
Won’t a Works Council make our processes less efficient?
We believe it is better to measure twice and cut once: speed is not necessarily the same as efficiency. We can all recall several cases where hastily made decisions or poorly planned processes resulted in a lot of stress, overtime, loss of revenue or fines from the authorities. Having a Works Council approve all major decisions eliminates this risk and helps the company make better decisions.
Will an external organization, ver.di, tell us what we can and cannot do?
Definitely not! ver.di is only advising us on the legal framework and requirements for forming a Works Council. All members of the Works Council will be employees of the N26 Group, elected democratically.
Plus, ver.di isn’t a black box with its own agenda. It is a thoroughly democratic organisation: all decisions are made by the union members, not forced by the people employed by ver.di.
Why are you communicating on this external site instead of using one of the company’s internal tools?
The hope is that, in a few days, we will be able to provide all this information on internal tools. However, we figured that people would immediately have questions about establishing a Works Council, so we prepared this information to be available to all employees immediately as we wait for the tools to be able to publish it internally. We hoped this would clarify the position of the people asking for a Works Council, provide information right off the bat instead of stoke fears of what the agenda of the invitation was really about.
Why was this invitation planned behind the scenes, and not openly discussed?
Many employees are involved with this project. However, there is no legal protection from dismissal from the company before the invitation is posted. Our goal was and is to protect employees from untoward consequences for exercising their legal rights.