The workshop council and women’s representative 13.12.23
German sheltered workshops are obliged by law to implement a workshop council elected from and by the workshop users in the department of work (§§ 1 f. WMVO).

This is what distinguishes the German system from every other system in the world. Similar to works councils the number of representatives in the workshop council is staggered according to the size of the sheltered workshop. As a result of the above-mentioned legislation reform the number increased to up to 13 representatives. The workshop council’s task is to represent the interests of people with disabilities in the work department vis-à-vis management of the sheltered workshop. This includes acting as their interlocutor in case of problems involving the services of the sheltered workshop and monitoring their legal rights. It also provides support in exercising participation rights as well as the newly given rights of co-determination, for example regarding the self-defined statutes of the respective sheltered workshop, working hours, compliance of required periods of recuperation and recreation, remuneration principles and other protective rights of workshop users in the department of work. 

Similarly, as a result of the above-mentioned legislation reform, since 2017 every sheltered workshop is required to appoint a women’s representative elected from and by the female workshop users in the department of work (§§ 1, 39a ff. WMVO). Her task is to foster gender equality, reconciling work and family life and be interlocutor in cases of physical, sexual and psychological violence. 

The work of both, the workshop council and the women`s representative is funded by the sheltered workshops. At regional and federal level, associations of these self-representative bodies have also been formed, in particular in case of the long-established workshop councils. At the national level, the interests of all workshop users are represented by the association`Werkstatträte Deutschland`and the network of women’s representatives are organised by the association `Starke.Frauen.Machen.`

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Who we are
Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen e. V. (BAG WfbM) is the political representative of sheltered workshops in Germany. We represent 93 % of all German workshops. All public welfare organisations and religious denominations work jointly in our organisation.

Our task is to give expert advice on questions related to employment, vocational training, financing and legal issues. Additionally, we are actively involved in the legislation process. BAG WfbM promotes for the participation of persons with disabilities in working life.
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