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Labour Relations Manager

Project example :

"Labour Relations Manager at a pharmaceutical company"

Labour Relations Manager at a pharmaceutical company

The client in this project was a pharmaceutical company from the United States with headquarters in Atlanta. Germany only played host to one of its distribution companies; with London its European headquarters. To date, the UK’s HR Manager had also taken care of the employees in Germany. The client was now looking for interim support in the area of Labour Relations Management. The project had to be carried out remotely and part-time.

Project: »Labor Relations Manager« 

I initially came into this project, first and foremost as an interim Labour Relations Manager to accompany the establishment of the Works Council in Germany. The regulations on co-determination at company and supra-company level form a legal framework for key HR decisions that must be observed. Only experts can do this. The tasks that emerged from collaboration with the co-determination committees were then up to me to solve. As the interim Labour Relations Manager, they were:

  • Providing support for the newly-established Works Council

  • Establishing confidence-based cooperation 

  • Seeing to the absorption of costs of the work done by the Works Council

  • Training of Works Council

  • Negotiation of company agreements

  • Getting the foreign HR Manager on point in German Labour Law

The status quo at the outset

​Just before I was deployed, a Works Council had been newly established at the principal’s distribution company in Germany. As an external Labour Relations Manager, I was tasked with accompanying its execution. It was particularly important to the client to take a constructive approach in establishing confidence with the employee representatives there. Furthermore, the client wanted me to train the UK HR Manager in German Labour Law – so in future he would be in a position to fulfil the role of Labour Relations Manager in accordance with the prevailing regulations in Germany. 

Course of the project

When Works Councils are newly established, after the first training sessions it is often the case that how they envisage co-determination in the company is very ambitious. Therefore in the first instance my focus as Labour Relations Manager was on developing a common understanding with the Works Council colleague about the scope of co-determination rights. A first phase of cooperation then served as the platform to discuss the classical questions of what exactly the functions of the Works Council entailed, for example:

  • The need for the work done by a Works Council

  • The time scope for exemptions

  • The topic surrounding the training of the Works Council

  • The commissioning of external advisors for the Works Council

» As Labour Relations Manager, it was important to find a common understanding about the participation of the Works Council. «

Lars Schott, HR Manager
Interim Labour Relations Manager

After agreeing on the extent to which the Works Council's co-determination would go, we were able to develop a defined operating practice for the distribution company in Germany. In doing so, we deliberately steered away from aligning ourselves exclusively with the requirements of the legislator from the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG). The needs of the Works Council and those of the employer conducive to good cooperation were what we took into consideration in the process. Such considerations are an essential task for me as a Labour Relations Manager – and important for good long-term labour relations that are geared towards pragmatic cooperation in the interest of all parties.

Company agreements

In the next phase of the project, we drafted various company agreements. My modus operandi as interim Labour Relations Manager was to shape the content of the employer's proposals into something tangible. Subsequently I liaised with the UK colleague and we came to an agreement on the line of reasoning to be taken in the negotiations. In the final step, the issues were then negotiated in collaboration with the UK colleague and German management. A need for company agreements was established in the following areas:

  • Business trips and hours of work

  • Use of IT

  • Bonuses and rewards

  • Sales reporting

A proven track record

After a very short time as Labour Relations Manager, I was already able to hand over the tasks to the HR colleague in London. The employer and the Works Council had developed a common understanding about co-determination in the company and all the necessary company agreements had been negotiated. Due to the way the project was structured, the client had the opportunity to use my services as an external Labour Relations Manager in a very target-orientated manner and deploy me for a very limited period of time. Also, the possibility of appointing me flexibly as an additional resource at a later time once more was not ruled out. Like this, the company having its interests safely represented by a Labour Relations Manager in Germany is guaranteed at all times.

Further information:

» My services: Labor Relations

» My services: HR Management

» My services: HR Restructuring & Change Management

» My services: Merger & Acquisition

» Project example: Labor Law Manager

» Project example: Head of HR with focus on Merger & Acquisition

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» Project example: Interim HR Manager in the aviation sector

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