How can you make the most of your works council's operating budget?

The Social and Economic Committee (Comité Social et Économique or CSE), mandatory in companies with 11 or more employees, is made up of the employer and elected staff members, whose number varies according to the size of the structure. The primary role of the CSE is to facilitate communication between management and employees. It acts as a kind of mediator. Since January 1, 2020, it has brought together all the bodies that previously existed: the CE (works council), the DP (staff delegates), the CHSCT (health, safety and working conditions committee), as well as the IRP (staff representative bodies).

In addition to its main tasks of facilitating social dialogue and looking after employees' interests, the CSE also looks after their well-being by offering social and cultural activities. To do this, the CSE has material and financial resources at its disposal, in addition to an operating budget. Here are 5 tips on how to use the social budget of a Social and Economic Committee effectively.

How is the CSE budget defined?

When the company has fewer than 50 employees, the employer is free to decide which budget to subsidize. On the other hand, when the workforce is between 51 and 2,000 employees, the subsidy for the operating budget is set at 0.20% of payroll, rising to 0.22% for a workforce of over 2,000.

The amounts allocated to the CSE vary according to the number of employees. For example, in a company with fewer than 50 employees, the Labor Code does not require a budget, but the employer must at least provide staff delegates with a meeting room and a notice board. Training courses on health, safety and the improvement of working conditions, paid for by the employer, are also organized for members.

When the company exceeds 50 employees, two budgets are allocated to the CSE:

It may be possible for the Comité Social et Économique to transfer 10% of its operating budget surpluses to the ASC budget.

How to optimize your operating budget?

It is up to the elected members of the CSE to negotiate the amount of the annual allocation when it is not imposed by law or by a company agreement. Presenting useful projects can convince a reluctant employer. Expenditure should be seen as an opportunity to improve working conditions, and we all know that happy employees are more motivated. Good understanding within teams is also a determining factor in better productivity. Innovative and appropriate social and cultural activities contribute to greater social cohesion.

By following these 5 tips, the CSE can use its budget effectively to ensure the well-being of its employees:

  1. Plan expenses: it's important to draw up a provisional budget for expenses. This allows you to provide the necessary funds and avoid unexpected costs.
  2. Prioritize needs: depending on the type of staff, the CSE may prefer to fund continuing training or subsidize sports activities.
  3. Involving employees: consulting employees about their preferences in terms of activities and services helps to target expenditure more effectively, and improves support for the actions proposed by the CSE. To diversify the range of activities on offer, it is also possible to ask for a small financial contribution from each employee. Indeed, "free everything" inevitably reduces the range of services on offer.
  4. Avoid activities that are too expensive: vacation vouchers, gift vouchers, etc. can sometimes have an exaggerated impact on the budget. Choosing activities according to season often offers the advantage of more attractive rates. Similarly, to keep prices down, you need to focus on volume and group purchases.
  5. Evaluate results: measuring the effectiveness of actions taken is essential to identify those that have worked and those that should not be repeated.

Some Social and Economic Committees will opt for a large number of gift vouchers, others for group leisure activities... It's up to each Committee to make sensible use of the allocated budget by putting forward proposals to help employees.

What tools are available to support works councils?

The online pro accounts dedicated to CSEs make it possible to separate the two budgets (operating and social and cultural activities) and manage them separately at no extra cost.

What's more, these tools offer another advantage: each member can be allocated apersonal bank card, which he or she can use according to his or her committee responsibilities.