On 15 July 2015 a new regulation came into force that provides exemptions from the provisions in the Norwegian Working Environment Act on equal treatment of wages and working conditions for personnel hired from staffing agencies. The regulation implies that equal treatment policies can be waived provided that there is a collective agreement in the staffing agency which has been concluded with a union with a minimum of 10 000 members.
Prior to the exemption, a staffing agency would have to comply with both the salary and working conditions in the collective agreement, and with those of the company hiring the personnel (“hiring company”). This is due to the temporary agency worker being entitled to the same salary and key working conditions as if employed by the hiring company. This right to equal treatment with direct employees often led to increased costs and administrative burden for both the temporary agency and hirer.
Trade unions are likely to take steps to protect the temporary worker from the possible implications of the new regulation. The exemption from the principle of equal treatment means that temporary agency workers may obtain salaries and working conditions which are less favorable than the employees in the hiring company. For example, workers in the hiring company might have high salaries but the temporary agency workers who are hired in could be entitled to only the minimum salary in the collective agreement of the agency.
However, please note that the exemption from the principle of equal treatment will only apply to collective agreements that are concluded or revised from 15 July 2015 (refer to section two in the regulation). An important question is therefore what clauses the trade union will negotiate into any revised agreement in order to secure employee protection.
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