The Norwegian governing parties have announced key changes to the Working Environment Act that are designed to bring greater flexibility for Norwegian employees, as well as helping the unemployed get back to work. The proposals will be considered by the Parliament in June.
The key changes to the Act are as follows:
- Employers may, within the limits provided by law, enter into temporary employment agreements without justification for a maximum period of 12 months. However, there will be percentage limits on the maximum number of temporary employees a company can hire.
- The ‘four-year rule’ which grants permanent employment status to temporary employees will be reduced to three years.
- The upper age limit for employment will be raised from 70 to 72 years, and individual companies’ internal age limit may not be lower than 70 years.
- New limits will be introduced for working hours and overtime, to ensure more flexible working hours and the possibility for local adoptions by agreement with the employee or the union. Beyond these limits, employers cannot impose additional working hours or overtime without permission from the Labour Inspection Authority.
- Work on Sundays (weekend work) will be limited to three Sundays in a row, ensuring that employees are entitled to every fourth Sunday off work.
- Protection for whistle blowers is to be strengthened and there will be mandatory minimum standards introduced for all companies.
- The unions’ right to collective action in cases relating to hiring of employees by recruitment agencies will be removed.
- Statutory ‘activity duty’ will be introduced for all recipients of social benefits.
- There will be increased penalties for violations of the Working Environment Act and the General Application Act for collective agreements.
These changes have yet to be passed in law and it is expected that some of the measures may be challenged. The Norwegian Parliament will most likely consider the proposals in June. Further updates will be provided in future editions of this newsletter.
- The Norwegian Working Environment Act of 17 June 2005 no 62
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