Union membership in Lithuania is low – about 7% of all employees. The unions are divided into three main confederations, LPSK, LPSF “Sandrauga” and LPS “Solidarumas", divided – historically at least – on ideological grounds. However, the unions are able to work together.
There are almost 90,000 trade unionists in Lithuania, according to figures from the Lithuanian statistics office. These indicate that total union membership was 86,600 at the end of 2018, down from around 92,000 in the previous three years. With official figures showing 1,214,350 employees in Lithuania in 2018, this puts union density (assuming all trade union members are employees) at 7.1% in 2018. This is the same calculation used in the ICTWSS database.
Unions in Lithuania are divided into three main confederations, which are all represented in the national tripartite social dialogue committee (see section on collective bargaining). The LPSK is the largest, with around 50,000 members. It is followed by Solidarumas with some 14,000 members and Sandrauga with around 10,000. (all figures for 2018). There are also two smaller confederations, the RJPS and the LDF, and some unions not affiliated to the confederations. For example, the NPPSS, which brings together specialist unions representing parts of the public sector such as the police, firefighters and the prison service had 1,400 members in 2019.
Each of the two largest confederations has a different history and development. The LPSK emerged from a merger of two existing trade union confederations in 2002 which both developed from the trade union organisations which existed at the time when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. Solidarumas developed from the movement for Lithuanian independence, Sajudis, although it took its current name only in 2002.
The confederations are organised along industrial lines, although they also have important regional structures. The LPSK has 25 industry federations, Solidarumas has 15, and Sandrauga states it operates in 18 areas. In general, the largest federations are in the public sector, particularly health and education. The LPSK’s largest affiliate with 10,000 members is the education union LŠMPS, which was created through a merger of two education unions in May 2019.
The individual industry federations are made up of a minimum of five local employer-level unions, in companies, government institutions and other organisations, which come together in the federations. It is possible to set up a trade union with just 20 founding members or, in companies/organisations with fewer than 200 employees, just 10% of the workforce, provided it is at least three.
For example, LŽŪDPSF, the union for agricultural workers in LPSK and one of the strongest in the private sector, states on its website that it has 8,035 members in 148 local unions, and the LPSK service workers’ union has 4,250 members in 31 local unions as well as organising athletes and hairdressers.
Politically LPSK is closer to the social democratic party, while Solidarumas, which was formerly closer to the conservatives, now takes a more neutral position.
Despite these potential political differences, the confederations have cooperated in the past, notably in their opposition in 2015 and 2016 to major changes to the Labour Code being proposed by the government.
Union membership has declined substantially since Lithuanian independence in 1990. Since 2006, the earliest figures from the Lithuanian statistics office, overall membership has fallen by 22.5%. There is a concern to rebuild trade union strength, with the LPSK service workers’ union an example of a union using a bottom-up strategy to build membership. 
A majority of trade unionists in Lithuania are probably women. The response of LPKS, the largest confederation, to the annual ETUC gender equality survey in 2019 indicated that 58% of its membership were female.
 The number of members in membership organizations at the end of year, Statistics Lithuania
 Jelle Visser, ICTWSS Data base. Version 6.1. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies AIAS. October 2019
 ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, April 2019 https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/circular/file/2019-05/ETUC_Annual_Equality_Survey%202019_FINAL_EN.pdf (Accessed 03.04.2020)
 Working life in Lithuania by Inga Blaziene and Rasa Mieziene, Eurofound, 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/country/lithuania#actors-and-institutions (Accessed 03.04.2020)
 See NPPSS website https://www.pareigunai.lt/apie-mus (Accessed 03.04.2020)
 Lithuania: Latest developments in working life Q2 2019 by Inga Blaziene, Eurofound, August 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/article/2019/lithuania-latest-developments-in-working-life-q2-2019 (Accessed 03.04.2020)
 http://www.lzud.lt/index.php?s_id=1&lang=lt and http://www.lpsdps.com/?ac=about (Accessed 03.04.2020)
 Lithuanian trade unions: from survival skills to innovative solutions by Inga Blažiene and Boguslavas Gruževskis, in Innovative union practices in Central-Eastern Europe, edited by Magdalena Bernaciak and Marta Kahancová, ETUI, 2017
 ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, April 2019 https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/circular/file/2019-05/ETUC_Annual_Equality_Survey%202019_FINAL_EN.pdf
The Labour Code, which came into effect in 2017, has had a significant impact on collective bargaining, which is now exclusively reserved to unions, and may, in some cases, only benefit union members. Bargaining is much more prevalent in the public than the private sector and covers some 15% of the total workforce.
The new Labour Code, which came into effect on 1 July 2017, introduced important changes to the structure of collective bargaining in Lithuania. From that date, it has been possible to reach collective agreements at five separate levels: national (cross industry); territorial; industry (production, service or professional); employer (company or organisation); and workplace level (where this is specified in a collective agreement at national, industry or employer level). Before the 2017 Labour Code came into effect, collective bargaining was only possible at four levels – workplace level bargaining has now been added.
Where there is a potential clash between agreements at industry level or territorial level and agreements at employer level, the higher-level agreement (industry or territorial) applies, unless it specifically permits agreements at employer level to deviate from its terms. This is a variation from the previous Labour Code which stated that, in the case of a clash, the terms most favourable to the employee would always apply.
It is also possible for the government to extend all or part of the terms of a higher-level agreement (whether signed at national, industry or territorial level) to all employees concerned rather than those employed by the employers who have signed the agreement. However, although this possibility exists in the new Labour Code, as it did in the previous version, it has never been used.
Of greater practical importance is the fact that the 2017 Labour Code changes which employees are covered by the agreements. Previously, collective agreements applied automatically to all the employees of the organisation which had signed the agreement. Under the new arrangements they initially only apply to members of the signatory union or unions. Agreements signed at employer or workplace level can be extended to all the employees of that employer or in that workplace, but only if the unions and employer signing the agreement agree that it should be extended in this way, and this is agreed at meeting of all the employee representatives. If a union has signed an agreement with an employer but there are no union members (This is possible – see section Who negotiates?) the agreement applies to all employees provided that the employee representatives have agreed to this at a meeting.
The new Labour Code also requires that all collective agreements should be registered with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. (There was previously no obligation to register company level agreements.) This register shows that on 8 April 2020 there were 297 valid collective agreements.
The analysis by the ministry shows that the vast majority of these agreements (95%) were at employer level – 282 out of 297, but there were also 12 industry-level agreements, two territorial agreements and one at national level. There were no workplace-level agreements.
The national level agreement was signed by four national confederations (LPSK, Solidarumas, Sandrauga and RJPS) plus the public sector federation NPPSS, on one side, and the Lithuanian government, on the other, in July 2019. It covered almost 200,000 public sector workers. As well as improving pay levels for all workers, the agreement provides additional benefits which only trade unionists receive: two extra days’ leave and up to 10 days’ paid study leave.
The 12 industry-level agreements signed cover workers in education and science, health, social services, culture, environmental protection, social insurance, border protection and the prison service and justice, as well as the railways, furniture and wood processing and road haulage.
In total the Ministry of Social Security and Labour estimates that 70% of the agreements on the registry are concluded in the public sector and that total collective bargaining coverage is 15%. Although no comparable estimates were made in the past, it seems likely that the coverage of collective agreements has increased. This is certainly the view of the labour inspectorate (VDI), which commented in its annual report on 2018 that the number of collective agreements had more than doubled between 2017 and 2018.
It is unclear how many agreements have used the possibility of limiting negotiated improvements to union members. However, some, like the national agreement in the public sector, have included preferential treatment for union members. An example is the agreement in the social services sector in September 2019, where unionised employees received higher pay.
As well as a framework for collective bargaining, there is also a highly structured system of consultation between unions, employers and government, with the Tripartite Commission of the Republic of Lithuania (LRTT) at the top and several specialist commissions, covering issues like health and safety and training underneath. The three main union confederations are represented on these councils, and, in the LRTT, they, like the employers and the government, have seven seats – three for LPSK, and two each for Sandrauga and Solidarumas. The Tripartite Council has played a key role in developing the country’s system of industrial relations and makes proposals to the government on the minimum wage.
Who negotiates and when?
At national, industry and territorial level, negotiations take place between one or more union organisations and one or more employers’ associations.
At employer or workplace level, negotiations are between the employer and the union operating in that employer or workplace, or with a joint union representation if there are several unions. Where there is no union presence at an employer, the employees may, at a general meeting, authorise a union to negotiate on their behalf.
The union monopoly on negotiations at employer and workplace level is a change introduced by the new Labour Code. Previously works councils were able to negotiate if there was no union.
The new Labour Code provides that agreements will be valid for a maximum period of four years, unless something else is agreed. The details of the agreements included in the register of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour indicate that significant number are of unlimited duration, with many also signed for four years. Where they are for a fixed term, negotiations should start two months before the termination of the old agreement.
The subject of the negotiations
The Labour Code allows collective agreements to cover a wide range of issues, with employer or workplace level agreements covering more topics than higher-level agreements.
Agreements at national, industry or territorial level cover pay and pay-related issues, health and safety, employment training and retraining and procedural issues, as well as what is described as “other working, social and economic issues important to the parties.
At employer and workplace level, agreements can cover the details of employment contracts, pay, working and rest time, health and safety, the mutual provision of information, information and consultation procedures, although without reducing the rights of the works council (see separate section), important working, social and economic issues and procedural issues linked to the signing, validity and length of the agreement.
Collective agreements can always improve on the legal minimum standards, but, with some exceptions, agreements at national, industry or territorial level can also set inferior conditions, provided the agreement, in the words of the Labour Code, “strikes a balance between the interests of the employer and the employees”. The exceptions, where collective agreements cannot worsen the legal standards, cover maximum working time and minimum rest periods, minimum wages, the conclusion or termination of an employment contract, health and safety, gender equality and non-discrimination.
Lithuania has a national minimum wage which is set by the government following recommendations from the Tripartite Commission (LRTT), and after taking the development of the national economy into account. The recommendations from the Tripartite Commission are presented annually, normally by 15 June.
 Lithuania: will new legislation increase the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining? by
Inga Blažienė, Nerijus Kasiliauskas and Ramunė Guobaitė-Kirslienė, in Collective bargaining in Europe: towards an endgame, edited by Torsten Müller, Kurt Vandaele and Jeremy Waddington, ETUI, 2019
 Register of collective agreements https://socmin.lrv.lt/lt/paslaugos/administracines-paslaugos/kolektyviniu-sutarciu-registras-ir-kolektyviniu-sutarciu-registravimo-tvarka (Accessed 08.04.2020)
 Email to Labour Research Department from the Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania (2020-04-08 Nr. (33.5 E-52) SD-1937)) 8 April 2020
 https://www.lpsk.lt/naujienos/2020-metu-nacionaline-kolektyvine-sutartis/ (Accessed 08.04.2020)
 VDI Annual Report 2018, May 2019 https://www.vdi.lt/PdfUploads/DSS_tendencijos_2013_2018.pdf (Accessed 08.04.2020)
 Lithuania: Latest developments in working life Q3 2019 by Inga Blaziene, Eurofound, November 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/article/2019/lithuania-latest-developments-in-working-life-q3-2019 (Accessed 08.04.2020)
The Labour Code, which came into effect in 2017, has also changed employee representation at workplace level. Employers with 20 or more workers are now required to initiate the setting up of a works council, and large numbers have been established. However, where an employer-level union has more than a third of the company’s employees in membership, it takes over from the works council.
Under Labour Code, which came into effect in July 2017, employers must take the initiative to set up an elected works council when they have 20 or more employees. However, this is not necessary if more than one third of the workforce are members of an employer-level union or unions operating at the workplace. In that case, a works council is not formed, and all the powers and functions of the works council are transferred to the union, or to a joint union body, if there is more than one union operating at the employer.
A employer-level union can be set up provided that it has at least 20 employees as members, or its members account for at least 10% of the total workforce, provided there are at least three.
The introduction of the one-third threshold for union membership before unions replace works councils is a change on the situation before 2017. Under the previous Labour Code, works councils could only be set up where there were no unions – either an employer-level union at the workplace, or an appropriate industry union to which the workforce had transferred its representation rights.
Employers with fewer than 20 employees can choose to have a single elected employee representative – an employee trustee.
Figures from the labour inspectorate covering 2018, suggest that the new Labour Code has produced a sharp increase in the number of workplaces with employee representation. It reports that between the legislation coming into force in July 2017 and the end of 2018, almost 4,000 employers notified the inspectorate that a new works council had been formed, with around 15,000 works council members being elected. By 31 December 2018, the labour inspectorate reports, there were employee representatives in 39% of the employers surveyed by the inspectorate.
These figures are difficult to reconcile with the results of Eurofound’s 2013 European Company Survey. These show a much higher level of workplace representation, even before the 2017 Labour Code. The Eurofound figures suggest that, in 2013, more than half (57%) of establishments in Lithuania with at least 10 employees had some form of official employee representation, either through the union, a works council or a single elected employee trustee. This figure is substantially above the EU28 average of 32%. As elsewhere in Europe, larger organisations were much more likely to have such a structure than smaller ones. The survey shows that 92% of establishments with more than 250 employees had representation, and 72% of those with between 50 and 249 employees. But even in smaller workplaces in Lithuania, those with between 10 and 49 employees, the survey indicates that over half (54%) had employee representation.
Numbers and structure
How the employer-level union is organised, including the number of union representatives at the workplace, depends on the rules of the union, although as already noted an employer-level union can only be set up if its membership exceeds set thresholds. However, the number of senior figures in the employer-level union with time-off rights, training rights and protection against dismissal is linked to the number of employees in exactly the same way as the member of works council members – see table below.
Employers must take the initiative to set up a works council once they have an average of 20 or more employees, unless more than one third of the workforce are members of an employer-level union or unions operating at the workplace.
Below the 20-employee threshold. a single employee trustee can be elected, although the employer is not obliged to initiate this process.
The average number of employees is calculated on the number of employees who are “bound with the employer by valid employment relations” for more than three months. This includes agency staff provided they have worked at the employer for more than three months and is a headcount figure rather than being based on full-time-equivalents. All those working for the employer are included irrespective of whether they are employed at different sites.
The size of the works council increases with the average number of employees (see table).
Number of works council members
21 to 100
101 to 300
If, after the election, the workforce increases by at least 20%, and rises above the next threshold in the table, the extra members required are chosen in an additional election.
The works council must elect a chair and secretary at its first meeting, and, as well as chairing the meetings, the chair also represents the works council in its relations with employees, the employer, the employer-level union and other bodies. He or she also drafts the annual report which the works council must publish on its activities. Once approved by the works council, this report must be presented to the employees.
The works council must draw up its own rules of procedure. The legislation does not prescribe the frequency of the meetings it should hold, but it states that the employer and representatives of the employer-level union are entitled to attend the meetings, if invited by the works council.
Tasks and rights
In contrast to the previous position, the Labour Code that came into effect in 2017 makes a clear distinction between the roles of the employer-level union and the works council. The exception is where more than a third of employees are members of the local union or unions. When union membership passes this threshold, the employer-level union takes over all the functions and rights that would normally be exercised by the works council.
Where this is not the case, the role of the employer-level union is to conduct collective bargaining (see section on collective bargaining) as well as to promote the union. It also defends the interests of its members and represents them in individual cases relating to their employment. The primary role of the works council, on the other hand, is to participate in information and consultation procedures with the employer and influence the employer’s decisions on economic, social and labour issues relevant to employees.
The tasks and rights of the single employee representative at employers with fewer than 20 workers – the employee trustee – are the same as those of the works council.
The information provided to the works council should be timely and accurate and the works council should not disclose confidential information. Consultation, defined as the exchange of opinions between the employer and the works council with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution, must begin within five working days of the employer receiving a request from the works council, and members of the works council are entitled to meet the employer and make proposals over a period of 15 days. During that period the employer must not act to implement the measure which is subject to consultation.
An employer employing 20 or more people must at the request of the works council provide it with annual data on average remuneration by occupational group and gender (excluding managerial employees), as well as information on part-time working, remote working, fixed-term contracts and agency work. If there is no works council, this information should be provided to the employer-level union.
An employer employing 20 or more workers must also provide the works council with information on an annual basis on:
- the employer’s status and structure, and potential changes in employment, especially where employment may be at risk, including information about the categories and number of employees, including temporary workers, and past and planned personnel changes;
- changes in pay and expected trends in pay;
- working time, including information on overtime;
- health and safety measures;
- current and potential developments of the employer’s activities and economic situation, including information based on its financial statements and annual report; and
- other matters of particular importance to the economic and social position of the employees.
The works council may ask for consultation on this information within five working days of receiving it, and that consultation must begin within 15 days of the employer receiving the request and must last for at least five days.
Where is there no works council or employee trustee carrying out the functions of the works council, the employer must inform the employer-level trade union, which can express its view.
There are a number of specific issues where the employer Is required to consult with the works council before taking decisions. These are:
- works rules, governing general procedures at the employer;
- job standards;
- the remuneration system, where this is not determined by a collective agreement;
- the introduction of new technological processes;
- using information and communication technologies for employee monitoring and surveillance;
- measures which could violate employees’ personal privacy;
- policies for the protection of the employee’s personal data;
- the implementation of the equal opportunities policy; and
- measures to reduce stress at work.
In relation to all these issues timetable is slightly different. The work council must be informed 10 working days before the measures are to be agreed and has three days to require that it should be consulted on them. Consultation should last for at least five days and the employer and works council are able to reach an agreement on the proposals, although there is no requirement that they must do so.
Where is there no works council or employee trustee carrying out the functions of the works council, the employer must inform the employer-level trade union, which can express its view.
The works council also has specific rights to information and consultation in the case of both collective redundancies and business transfer. The works council must also be consulted on selection criteria, even if the number involved is not large enough to be considered a collective redundancy and on annualised hours’ arrangements, where these exist. As in other areas, if there is no works council or employee trustee, the employer must inform the employer-level trade union, which can express its view. Annual leave arrangements can either be settled in a collective agreement or in an agreement with the works council.
The works council has the right to convene a meeting of employees, although the date must be coordinated with the employer. It must also inform employees annually on its activities through an annual report or in some other equivalent way.
The works council can also reach written agreements in areas to promote cooperation between the employer and the works council, although it may not negotiate pay, working time or other issues covered by collective bargaining. It has the right to take a case to a labour dispute commission if it considers that the employer has not complied with the law or agreed arrangements.
Election and term of office
The arrangements for choosing trade union representatives depend on the rules of the particular union.
Works councils should be elected by secret ballot at a meeting of all employees. All employees aged over 18 who have been in an employment relationship for at least six months, other than individuals representing the employers, have a right to be nominated. Nominations can be made by individual employees, who can each nominate one candidate, and by employer-level unions, who have the right to nominate at least three candidates.
All workers linked to the employer, including part-time, temporary and agency workers can vote, provided they have at least three months’ uninterrupted service are entitled to vote. The candidates with the most votes are elected.
There must be an election. If the number of candidates is not greater than the number of seats, the period for nominations is extended, and, if there are still insufficient candidates, the election is postponed for at least six months. A majority of the employees must participate for the election to be valid, although, if it is subsequently rerun because the first turn-out was too low, the second ballot will be valid if more than 25% of the employees take part.
Works council members are elected for three years.
Protection against dismissal
Members of employer-level trade union management bodies and work councils as well as the employee trustee may not be dismissed and their contract terms may not be worsened without the consent of the head of the local labour inspectorate. This protection, which continues for six months after leaving office, extends to the same number of members of employer-level trade union management bodies as there are or would be members of the works council, taking into account the number of employees.
Time off and other resources
Members of employer-level trade union management bodies and work councils as well as the employee trustee have the right to up to 60 hours paid time off a year undertake their duties. As with protection against dismissal, the number of members of the employer-level trade union benefiting from time off is linked to the number of employees in the same proportion as members of the works council.
The employer must free of charge, allot a room and allow the use of work equipment for performance of the functions of the employee trustee, the members of the work council and the members of the management bodies of employer-level unions. Other support can be agreed through collective agreements or agreements with the works council.
Members of employer-level trade union management bodies and work councils as well as the employee trustee have the right to at least five working days per year for training, of which two must be paid, although this can be increased by agreement. Part of the overall 60-hourstime off a year may also be used for training .As with time off the number of the employer-level union who can benefit from this is same as the number of works council members who benefit or could benefit.
Representation at group level
This may be provided by the trade union structure in the case of trade union workplace organisations.
There are no arrangements for works councils at group level, but the fact that a works council may only be set up at company level means that it may bring together employees from several workplaces.
 VDI Annual Report 2018, May 2019 https://www.vdi.lt/PdfUploads/DSS_tendencijos_2013_2018.pdf (Accessed 08.04.2020)
 Eurofound (2015), Third European Company Survey – Overview report: Workplace practices – Patterns, performance and well-being, Figures for Table 44
There is no employee representation at board level in the private sector in Lithuania, but they are present in some state-owned enterprises.
In the private sector, a quoted public limited company (AB) can have both a supervisory and management board, while a limited company (UAB) has a single-tier board. In neither case is there a requirement for employees to be represented at board level.
However, as a result of the changes introduced in the 2017 Labour Code and new legislation on state and municipal enterprises, employees have the right to choose some members of boards of state and municipal companies, where boards are established. (State and municipal enterprises only have single-tier boards.)The founding documents (the articles) of these companies determine precisely how many board members and employee representatives there should be, but there must be at least five board members and at least one of these must be an employee representative. Employee representatives must also make up at least one fifth of the board members.
The 2017 Labour Code states that it is “persons carrying out employee representation at the employer level” who choose the board members representing the employees. This will normally be the works council, unless the employee-level union represents more than a third of the workforce, in which case the employer-level union takes on all the functions assigned to the works council.
Employee representatives appointed to management or supervisory boards have the same rights and duties as other members. Board-level employee representatives serve for period specified in the articles of the company. The legislation provides for a four-year term of office. However, they may be removed from office by a decision of the employee representative body that appointed them, although that body must immediately appoint replacements.
In practice, by June 2020 there were six state enterprises with employee representation at board level and a seventh, covering Lithuanian airports where the board was being chosen. The six companies cover air traffic control, a state register centre, the body registering vehicles and driving licences, a centralised state property management company, a state timber and logging company and a company decommissioning a nuclear plant. In most cases there is a single employee representative on a five-person board, but in the vehicle and driver registration organisation, Regitra, which has just over 500 employees, there are two employee members on the ten-person board, and in the timber and logging company, Valstybinių miškų urėdija (VMU), there are two out of seven.
In employment terms, VMU seems the largest of the state enterprises with board-level employee representation, with 2,753 employees in 2020. (The decommissioning company had 1,901 in 2019.) The two employee representatives on the VMU board are the chair of the Forest Management Division's employees' trade union and a member of the council and board of the Lithuanian Forest and Forest Industry Trade Union Federation. Both are women.
As well as the right, in state and municipal enterprises, to appoint board-level representatives, employee representatives may participate in the meetings of the management or supervisory board in the private sector, in certain circumstances. However, this is only when issues relating to employees’ terms of employment are being discussed, and this depends on a collective agreement or some other form of agreement being reached between the employer and employee representatives. It is not automatic.
 Lietuvos Respublikos valstybės ir savivaldybės įmonių įstatymas article 10 (2) (3) https://www.e-tar.lt/portal/lt/legalAct/TAR.29FB2C8807FE/asr (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 Labour Code article 211 https://e-seimas.lrs.lt/rs/legalact/TAD/da9eea30a61211e8aa33fe8f0fea665f/format/ISO_PDF/ (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 Labour Code article 169 (2)
 It had 535 in December 2019, see annual report page 33 https://www.regitra.lt/lt/imone/veikla-2/veiklos-ataskaitos (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 See wage reports first quarter of 2020 https://www.vivmu.lt/lt/ataskaitos/ (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 See statistics https://www.iae.lt/apie-imone/statistika/62 (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 See board members https://www.vivmu.lt/lt/valdyba/ (Accessed 23.06.2020)
 Labour Code article 212
European representatives from Luxembourg are chosen by the employee delegations. In most cases they must be employees, but this is not the case for the members of an SNB for a European Company, where union officials can also be chosen.
European Works Council
Members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the EWC from Luxembourg are appointed by the central employee delegation – the body bringing together three members from each workplace if there are several workplaces in the same company – provided this exists. If there is no central employee delegation, members of the SNB are chosen by the main employee delegations. If there are manual and non-manual employee delegations, the regular member is chosen by the body representing the majority of employees, with the replacement chosen by the other. Members of the SNB must be company employees and members of the employee delegation.
The situation is the same for Luxembourg members of the EWC set up under the fallback procedure in the annex to the directive.
Luxembourg members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the European Company are appointed by the central employee delegation – the body bringing together three members from each workplace if there are several workplaces in the same company – provided this exists. If there is no central employee delegation, members of the SNB are chosen by the main employee delegations. If there are manual and non-manual employee delegations, the regular member is chosen by the body representing the majority of employees, with the replacement chosen by the other. Members of the SNB must either be employees and members of the employee delegation, or representatives of one of the national representative unions, who are signatories to the agreement covering the company concerned – in other words they may be full-time union officials.
The situation is the same for Luxembourg members of the SE representative body set up under the fallback procedure in the annex to the directive but the individuals chosen must be company employees.
Luxembourg members at board level for a European Company, as set up under the fallback procedures, are also chosen by the employee delegations or delegation but again only from among the employees of the company.
Further information on the national SE legislation can be found here.
In most companies with at least 50 employees and in some with fewer, employees have the right to elect representatives with health and safety responsibilities to a joint employee/employer health and safety committee. Many of the details of how they work – such as the precise number to be elected or their time-off rights – are left to be agreed between employees and employer in the company or collective agreements.
Basic approach at workplace level
It is the duty of the employer to ensure the safety and health of employees at work. However, employers or their representative must provide conditions for employees and employee representatives with specific responsibilities for health and safety to take part in discussions on health and safety issues.
Employee health and safety bodies
Health and safety committees (darbuotojų saugos ir sveikatos komitetai) should be established in most companies with 50 employees or more and in some cases in smaller companies (see below). They contain an equal number of employer representatives and employee representatives with specific health and safety responsibilities (darbuotojų atstovas saugai ir sveikatai), elected by all employees.
In addition trade unions or, if there is no local trade union, the works council represent the interest of workers in relation to health and safety, and collective agreements can provide more favourable arrangements for dealing with health and safety than those set out in legislation.
Numbers and structure
A joint employer/employee health and safety committee should be set up in most companies with at least 50 employees. In smaller companies it should be set up if either the employer or employee representatives (the local union or the works council) call for it, or if it is requested by more than half of the workforce. A health and safety committee should also be set up in smaller companies, where the government considers that the hazards are greater; examples include chemical production, construction and the railways).
Half of the members of the health and safety committee are appointed by the employer and half are elected by the employees as employee representatives with specific health and safety responsibilities.
The number of employee representatives with health and safety responsibilities is decided by the local union or works council in conjunction with the employer, although the legislation requires that there is at least one employee safety representative for each separate shift. Where there is more than one employee safety representative, one among them should be designated as the senior employee safety representative.
The health and safety committee is chaired by a representative of the employer and the secretary is from the employees’ side. The organisation’s health and safety and occupational health specialists, where these are present (see below), should also be involved. The employer draws up rules of procedure, after consulting with the employee representatives and taking account of the government regulations on the operation of health and safety committees.
Research by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2014 found that 78% of workplaces in Lithuania had health and safety representatives but only 13% had a health and safety committee. The figure for health and safety representatives is above the EU-28 average of 58%, but Lithuania has fewer health and safety committees than the EU-28 average of 21%. (The figures are for workplaces with five or more employees.)
Tasks and rights
The main functions of employee representatives with responsibility for health and safety are to represent the company’s workers on the health and safety committee and to participate in all measures carried out by the employer to improve health and safety in the company, including risk assessment and measures taken to eliminate or mitigate risk.
More specifically, their functions include:
- participating in the selection and appointment of workers responsible for first aid, rescue measures and evacuation;
- participating in providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment and monitoring its use;
- participating in the investigation of accidents at work, occupational diseases and incidents (provided this has been authorised by the local union or works council); and informing workers about dangers and helping move workers to a safe location, where the employer has asked them to do this.
They also have a right to:
- to propose and require that the employer’s representative take the necessary steps to ensure workers’ health and safety;
- to take part in risk assessment and the planning of preventative measures;
- to approach the employer if his or her representative has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure employees’ health and safety and to approach the labour inspectorate where the employer fails to act;
- to receive all information on any issues related to health and safety from the employer and the employers’ representative and the company health and safety committee. (Employers have a duty to provide them with all necessary information.)
The specific role of the health and safety committee is to:
- examine the causes of accidents at work and occupational illnesses and make proposals as to how these could be avoided in the future;
- consider the overall health and safety status of the organisation and the results of the risk assessment;
- consider how well the organisation complies with health and safety legislation;
- consider particularly the situation of pregnant women, women who have recently given birth and the disabled;
- consider the procedures for health and safety training;
- investigate the provision of medical examinations and make proposals to improve the occupational health of the workforce;
- consider the sanitary and hygiene facilities at the workplace as well as the provision of personal protective equipment;
- examine how health and safety could be improved through collective agreements;
- make proposals for local health and safety legal regulations; and
- examine disagreements between an employee and the employer, or the employer’s representative, where an employee has refused to work.
The decisions of the health and safety committee, which must be taken by a two-thirds majority, are recommendations. However, they are binding on the employer in terms of requiring work to be suspended in the following circumstances:
- when workers have not be trained to work safely;
- when equipment has failed or there is an emergency;
- when technical regulations are not being complied with;
- when protective equipment, either personal or collective, has not been provided; and
- when the working environment is harmful and/or hazardous to health and life.
If, in these circumstances, the employer refuses to comply with the committee’s decision, either to suspend work or remedy the deficiency, the committee should immediately inform the State Labour Inspectorate.
Frequency of meetings
The health and safety committee should decide how frequently it needs to meet. However, the regulations state that an extraordinary meeting should be called in the event of a fatal or serious accident, an acute occupational disease or an event such as a fire, or where the chair (from the employer) or where a third of all committee members requests it.
Election and term of office
The election of the employee representatives with responsibility for health and safety should be organised by the local trade union in the company, or, if there is none, by the works council. The election should take place at a meeting of all employees and, where a senior employee safety representative must also be chosen (if there is more than one), he or she is the individual with the most votes.
The legislation does not set out a specific term of office.
Resources and time off
Employee representatives with specific responsibilities for health and safety must be given sufficient paid time off to enable them to carry out their functions. It is left to a collective agreement to determine the amount.
The employer must provide the safety committee with the office space and other resources to enable it to carry out its duties.
Employee representatives with specific responsibilities for health and safety must also be given appropriate training, and again a collective agreement sets the amount of training to be provided. The time off needed for the training and the training itself should be paid by the employer.
Protection against dismissal
Employee representatives with responsibility for safety should no be disadvantaged for carrying out their functions. They also cannot be dismissed unless the body to which they belong agrees. Where dismissal is refused the employer can take the issue to a court for a final decision
Other elements of workplace health and safety
The employer is obliged to provide a health and safety service, either internally, though health and safety experts who are employees, or externally, through a specialist health and safety organisation.
Where the organisation uses its own employees to provide this health and safety service, regulations set out the number and the qualifications of the experts who must undertake these tasks. The number varies with the type of operations undertaken by the organisation (divided into three groups, depending on the hazards present) and the number of employees. For example, in large organisations (1,000 employees or more) in the most dangerous industries, such as the chemical industry, the employer must employ four health and safety specialists and three occupational health professionals, one of whom must be an occupational physician. In the least dangerous industries, like retail or finance, an organisation with 1,000 employees only need three health and safety specialists.
In smaller organisations, those with fewer than 10 employees in the most hazardous industries, fewer than 20 in the middle category and fewer than 50 in the least dangerous, the employer can undertake the duties of the health and safety specialist.
The ministry responsible for health and safety at work is the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija). The body responsible for ensuring compliance with Lithuania’s health and safety law is the State Labour Inspectorate (Valstybinė darbo inspekcija) which is part of the same ministry.
Trade unions and employers are able to influence health and safety policy through their participation in the Safety and Health at Work Commission of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos darbuotojų saugos ir sveikatos darbe komisija). This is a consultative body, with equal representation from the unions, the employers and state institutions, including the State Labour Inspectorate.
Lithuanian health and safety legislation makes specific reference to psychosocial risks. The 2003 Health and Safety at Work Act describes occupational health, among other things as “adapting of the working environment to physiological and psychological capabilities of workers”. Specific psychosocial assessment guidelines are set out in separate regulations, Order No. V-699/ A1-241, adopted in August 2005.
Health and Safety at Work Act (1 July 2003) and subsequently amended
General Regulations on Occupational Health and Safety Committees (9 September 2013)
Order on Model Regulations of Occupational Safety and Health Services in
Undertakings (2 June 2011)
Darbuotojų Saugos ir Sveikatos Įstatymas 2003 m. liepos 1 d. Nr. IX-1672
Dėl įmonių darbuotojų saugos ir sveikatos komitetų bendrųjų nuostatų patvirtinimo 2003 m. spalio 29 d. Nr. 6-PV5-36
Į s a k y m a s dėl darbuotojų saugos ir sveikatos komitetų bendrųjų nuostatų patvirtinimo 2013 m. rugsėjo 9 d. Nr. A1-502
Įsakymas dėl įmonių darbuotojų saugos ir sveikatos tarnybų pavyzdinių nuostatų patvirtinimo 2011 m. birželio 2 d. Nr. A1-266/V-575
 Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2016
 For more information on the national context see OSH system at national level – Lithuania by Audrius Spirgys and Gediminas Vilkevicius, OSH Wiki https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/OSH_system_at_national_level_-_Lithuania
Financial employee participation is not widespread in Lithuania. Although the level of employee share ownership was very high when Lithuania gained independence, it declined dramatically in the years following 1995.
The heyday of employee share ownership was between 1995 and 1997, after which a rapid decline started.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. See Lowitzsch, J., Hashi, I. and Woodward, R. (2009): The PEPPER IV Report: Benchmarking of Employee Participation in Profits and Enterprise Results in the Member and Candidate Countries of the European Union. Country Profile “Lithuania”.
There are hardly any data on financial employee participation in Lithuania Employee ownership was widespread in the middle of the 1990s, due to the privatization policy. Afterwards a rapid decline set in, with many employees selling their shares.
Employee Share Ownership
At the end of 1992 few shares in privatised companies were in the hands of employees.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. The PEPPER III Report: Lithuania (2006).
There is little legislation on workers’ financial participation in Lithuania.
While the legal provisions on employee share ownership are regulated in two laws there are few special provisions on profit-sharing. The activity of cooperatives is regulated by two laws: the Law on Cooperative Societies and the Civil Code.
Employee share ownership
The first stage of privatization started in 1991 with the Law on the Initial Privatization of State-Owned Property, and ended in 1995. According to this law, employees were granted the opportunity to buy shares (up to a maximum amount) of their companies at a preferential price in the first round of auctions. The remaining shares were sold in a public offering. The percentage of shares which could be sold to employees was 10% in 1991 and was increased afterwards to 30% in 1992 and then to 50% in 1993. Employees could use vouchers, which had been distributed previously (starting with 1991) to all Lithuanian residents over 18.
As a response to the urge for real investments in the Lithuanian economy, the Lithuanian Government changed the general direction of the privatization process starting with 1995. The second stage of privatization started, with the new 1995 Law on Privatization of State-owned and Municipal Property. The most notable change was that vouchers could no longer be used to acquire employee shares. The 1997 Law on Privatization, which initiated the third privatization stage and is still in effect, continued the trend, with all preferential rights for employees in the privatization process being abolished. Local and foreign investors, as well as legal entities and physical persons hence obtained equal rights in the privatization.
The more recent regulations regarding employee share ownership can be found in the 2003Law on Companies and the 1997 Law on the Privatization of State-Owned and Municipal Property. The Law on Companies stipulates that companies may issue ordinary shares having the status of employee shares, which can be sold only to employees, as long as the statute allows this. Employees have the same rights as normal shareholders. Through the issue of employee shares, companies can increase their capital while retaining control within the restriction period.
The Law on the Privatization of State-Owned and Municipal Property does not provide company employees with preferential rights, but it stipulates that an amount of up to 5% of shares owned by the state can be offered to employees at par value in the course of privatization. This does not apply for companies where employees have previously acquired shares in the course of privatization, or when the 5% would lead to a transfer of control from the state.
There are no specific regulations concerning profit-sharing. However, because income tax has to be paid on dividends, profit-sharing is less advantageous when used as an incentive, as it will be doubled taxed (once by the company, as dividends, and a second time by employees, as income).
The activity of cooperatives is regulated by two laws: the Law on Cooperative Societies and the Civil Code. According to both, cooperatives are legal entities with limited liability established by five or more physical persons or legal entities, for different purposes. Each member contributes to the capital and share risks and profits according to the turnover of members’ goods or services within the cooperative. The liability of each member for the obligations of the cooperative reflects his/her payment contribution for the member’s share.
Financial employee participation is not an important subject for Lithuanian trade unions at the moment. Other issues, like improving working conditions and higher wages, have a higher priority.
The Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (Lietuvos profesinių sąjungų konfederacija, LPSK), the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarumas’ (Lietuvos profesinė sąjunga ‘Solidarumas’) and the Lithuanian Labour Federation (Lietuvos darbo federacija, LDF) – the main three trade union associations in Lithuania – are aiming at higher wages and better working conditions for their members. Financial employee participation is not an important issue on their agenda.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. See, for example, Blaziene, I. (2007): Financial Employee Participation in the New Member States – Lithuania, Vilnius: Institute of Labour and Social Research.
- Lowitzsch, J. et. al (2006): The PEPPER III Report: Promotion of Employee Participation in Profits and Enterprise Results in the New Member and Candidate Countries of the European Union, Rome/Berlin: Inter-University Centre at the Institute for Eastern European Studies.
- Lowitzsch, J., Hashi, I. & Woodward, R. (2009): The PEPPER IV Report: Benchmarking of Employee Participation in Profits and Enterprise Results in the Member and Candidate Countries of the European Union. Country Profile “Lithuania”
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2010): European Company Survey 2009. Overview. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2012): Fifth European Working Conditions Survey, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
- Blaziene, I. (2007): Financial Employee Participation in the New Member States – Lithuania, Vilnius: Institute of Labour and Social Research.
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2007):Financial participation of employees in the European Union: Much ado about nothing? Background Paper
- Mygind, N. (2002): Ownership, control, compensation and restructuring of Lithuanian enterprises, Copenhagen: Center for East European Studies.
- Mygind, N. (2012): Trends in employee ownership in Eastern Europe, in: The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23:8, 1611-1642.
- Poutsma, E., Lighard, P. (2011): Compensation and Benefits, in: Cranet Survey on Comparative Human Resource Management – International Executive Report.