Change of government and working life policy

The results from Norway’s 2021 national election are in, and we are likely going to get a red-green coalition Government. The shift from a conservative to a red-green Government will likely be felt in many areas, one of which being labour policy. So, what can we expect from a new Government, with the Labour Party (Ap) at the helm?

While noone can know for certain, Advokatfirmaet Økland would like to emphasize the following:

  • Temporary employment

Section 14-9 of the Working Environment Act regulates permanent and temporary appointment. Temporary employment is generally limited to specific types of appointments, whereas Section 14-9 (2) (f) permits temporary appointments for a certain percentage of staff for a period of up to 12 months, without any specific reason.

This year’s election results entail that this general access to temporary appointment likely will be eliminated. The Labour Party has stated that eliminating this provision is among the first things it will do if elected, and they have the support of both SV and the Centre Party (Sp).

  • Right to full-time employment

Under current law, part-time employees have preferential rights to an increased position over the employer making a new appointment, provided the employee in question is qualified for the position. In addition, a part-time employee may, after a certain time period, demand a contract that corresponds to their actual workload.  The burden is on the employee to substantiate that they are entitled to an increased position.

Both the Labour Party and SV have announced that they intend to amend the legislation to shift the burden onto the employer, who will have to substantiate the need for a part-time position. In addition, SV has announced that they want to make full-time employment a legal right.

  • Hiring-in and temporary work agencies

Currently, the hiring-in of workers from agencies whose purpose is to provide temporary workers, is permitted to the same extent as temporary employment pursuant to Section 14-9 (2) (a–e). This entails that the hiring-in of workers from temporary work agencies is permitted when the work is of a temporary nature or the worker is hired as a temporary replacement for another person or persons, or for trainee work.

The Labour Party wants to ban all hiring-in that would otherwise have been a permanent employment. Hiring-in will only be permitted for true temporary posts, between production enterprises, and as agreed with elected employee representatives with trade unions with the right of nomination pursuant to the Labour Disputes Act. In addition, the Labour Party wants to “reinstate a collective right to sue to prevent unlawful hiring-in and work-related crime”. A collective right to sue is when a trade union may initiate lawsuits concerning unlawful hiring-in. This right was removed from the Working Environment Act in 2015.

In its party programme, the Centre Party states that they intend to “enact stricter laws and regulations, so that temporary-work agencies may only be used for true temporary replacements, short-term assignments or specialized functions where regular, permanent positions are difficult to create”. The Centre Party also wants to reinstate the collective right to sue.

SV wants to eliminate temporary-work agencies all together. The hiring-in of labour will still be permitted, but from enterprises whose purpose is not the hiring-out of workers, and with approval from employee representatives.

In addition, SV wants to establish national standards to prevent social dumping, based on the Telemark and Oslo models, for municipal purchases of services. These models place a number of requirements on providers, the stricter of which include requirements relating to permanent employment and a restriction on the levels of subproviders permitted (one level below the main provider). Both Ap and Sp have stated that they would like similar national standards to prevent social dumping.

Both Ap and Sp also want a “clarification of employer responsibility” in relevant legislation. The objective is to prevent creative organizational structures, so there is no ambiguity about who the employee’s employer is — the party that, in fact, decides how the work is carried out shall also have the rights and duties of the employer.

Time will tell if, and if so, to what degree, these amendments in labour laws will be carried out. At Advokatfirmaet Økland, we are ready to assist you with any questions you may have in this regard. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our lawyers if your company needs our help.