When works council elections were held, three quarters of those employees eligible to vote did so. Voter turnout was even higher in small and medium-sized enterprises. At 26 per cent, the proportion of women among works council members corresponds to the proportion of women entitled to vote. However, the chairperson of the works council is relatively seldom a woman (18 per cent) and women are significantly underrepresented among employee representatives in around one fifth of companies. As with managerial positions, this could be due to a disproportionately low proportion of female candidates. The majority of works councils are unionised, with works councils in manufacturing industry being a traditional trade union stronghold. The same applies to the position of works council chair, which – relative to the number of union members on the council – is disproportionately often occupied by a trade union member. In many places, the number of council members with a full-time release from work deviates either upwards or downwards from the statutory requirements, indicating a stable and trusting relationship between the management and their workforces. However, further analyses show that strongly unionised works councils are much less likely to forego this right of release than bodies on which trade union members hold fewer seats.

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