A guide to the social elections

By Christian BlockLex KlerenLaurent Sturm Switch to German for original article

If you have found voting documents in your letterbox in recent weeks, then you are one of more than 600,000 people entitled to vote in the social elections on 12 March. What is it all about? Twelve questions, twelve answers.

2023 was considered a super election year because both local and national elections were held last year. But 2024 has no less to offer, as EU citizens will elect a new European Parliament at the beginning of June. Before then, there will be another major election by Luxembourg standards: the social elections.

What are the social elections?

The social elections take place every five years. They fulfil a dual purpose.

Firstly, more than 600,000 eligible voters are asked to elect their representatives to the Chamber of Employees (the Chambre des Salariés, CSL). A special feature of this election is that all employees, apprentices aged 16 and over, pensioners and jobseekers are eligible to vote, regardless of their nationality or place of residence. The CSL therefore also represents the votes of non-Luxembourgers and cross-border commuters.

On the other hand, staff delegations are elected within companies.

What are the staff delegation elections?

The votes for the works council elections are counted on 12 March, the day on which the ballot paper for determining the CSL members must arrive at the election office.

All companies, whether private or public, including foundations or non-profit organisations, must set up a staff delegation if they employ at least 15 employees over a period of twelve months. At least that is the general principle. Above this number of employees, two employee representatives (one regular and one deputy) must be appointed. The larger the company, the larger the works council. A company with 1,000 employees elects around 13 regular and 13 deputy staff delegation members.

How many companies are affected by this?

Five years ago, an estimated 3,800 companies – out of a total of almost 41,000 – met the criteria for works council elections. Luxembourg is a country of micro and small enterprises: The national statistics institute lists around 16,000 companies with no employees (i.e. self-employed), just over 14,600 with up to four employees, around 4,260 with five to nine employees and around 4,400 with a workforce of between ten and 49.

At the end of 2019, around 2,900 eligible companies had appointed a works council, around 750 were no longer affected (no candidates, the company no longer existed, other reasons) and just under 170 had still not elected a staff delegation. The law provides for fines of up to EUR 15,000 for wilful obstruction of the formation of staff delegations.

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