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Legal updates in Norway can impact international HR departments

During the past year the Norwegian government has proposed multiple amendments to the current legislation. If passed and implemented, these amendments will necessitate action from most employers.

The Government's proposal to tighten rules relating to temporary agency hiring

The Government has presented two new bills proposing several amendments to the regulations for hiring from staffing companies. The goal is to achieve more permanent and direct employment in a two-party relationship between an employer and employee, thus creating an atmosphere in which employees have more influence over their own working day.

The bills initially propose a general tightening of the right to hire from staffing companies by abolishing the right to hire “when the work is of a temporary nature”. Consequently, companies (employers) can still enter into temporary employment agreements provided the work is of a temporary nature, subject to the statutory provisions for such agreements. The employer can enter into such an agreement directly with the temporary employee in question and not through a staffing company. However, the employer can still hire a temporary employee from a staffing company if the reason is to temporary replace a vacancy (e.g. maternity leave or long term sick leave).

There are two proposed exceptions from this general rule. Hiring of health personnel to ensure proper operation of the health and care service will still be allowed. Additionally, it will be admissible to hire employees with special expertise to carry out advisory and consulting services in a clearly defined project. The bills have further proposed to strengthen the right of temporary work agency workers to become permanent employees in the temporary-work agency by requiring temporary work agencies, pursuant to an agreement with employee representatives, to provide the right to permanent employment after a certain period of time. Furthermore, the Government proposes to establish an approval scheme for temporary work agencies, with expanded documentation requirements for hiring out labour, and stricter sanctions and consequences in the event of breaches. Lastly, the Government has proposed, a total ban on hiring out labor within the construction industry in the Oslo and Viken municipalities.

Implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions

The Government has proposed several changes to the Working Environment Act, the State Employee Act and the regulations regarding work in the employer’s home and household for the purpose of implementing Directive (EU) 2019/1152. Some of the main proposed amendments concern expanding the list of requirements regarding the content of the written contract, as well as shortening the deadline for the preparation of an employment agreement. It is also proposed to sharpen the regulations regarding the length of the trial period in the case of temporary employment.

The directive has not yet been incorporated into the EEA Agreement. The deadline for submitting responses to the consultation was October 20, 2022.

Directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of EU law

The purpose of the directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, Directive 2019/1937 is to improve the enforcement of EU law and EU policies in specific areas by setting common minimum standards that ensure a high level of protection for whistleblowers.

The Directive expands the circle of individuals protected against retaliation. Not only does it protect employees and contracted employees, but also suppliers and the self-employed persons. Currently, there is only an obligation to implement written guidelines for handling whistleblowing cases in Norwegian legislation. The Directive sets mandatory deadlines for the employer to process a whistleblowing case. Furthermore, the Directive demands establishment of internal reporting channels.

It is not yet clarified as to when the Directive will be incorporated into Norwegian law. The Directive is currently under review by the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information on HR regulations in Norway and the Nordics, please join our webinar with Ius Laboris on December 1, 2022. 

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