The coronavirus is a global pandemic that has led to sweeping regulations across the world, practically overnight. Since Hjort is a member of the global Ius Laboris network, we were able to collaborate with law firms from around the world and create the Coronavirus: Guide for International Employers. The document now covers 57 countries and contains information on lockdowns and benefits for employees and businesses from governments around the world.
Below you will find our submission to the Guide, pertaining to employment regulations in Norway.
Safety and Hygiene
- To minimise the risk of infection, you should make a risk assessment and take necessary steps to reduce infection, such as limiting contact between people and adopting strict routines for disinfection. However, currently, the Norwegian government has stated that employees should work from home as far as possible. We recommend you follow the rules and guidelines from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and other relevant authorities.
- If someone has fallen sick, tell him or her to stay at home and contact a medical service. The employee cannot come back to work until a doctor has confirmed him or her free of infection. Because of the 14-day incubation period, you must assess whether a sick employee may have infected others. If this is possible, inform the other possible infected employees and consider implementing special measures in relation to them.
- Information you provide should be transparent, clear and updated. You should have guidelines for work organisation including for working from home.
The government has imposed 14-day mandatory quarantine for anyone travelling from abroad. Given the potential consequences of the coronavirus for you, the infected employee and other employees, you can ask an employee whether they have tested positive and/or whether they have recently travelled outside the country. The employee has a responsibility to tell you whether he or she is infected, and/or whether he or she has travelled outside the country.
- If an employee refuses to tell you if he or she is infected and/or whether he or she has travelled outside the country, you cannot force them to tell you. You cannot force someone to be tested (however, special guidelines may apply in certain sectors, such as healthcare). If an employee refuses to be tested, you can order him or her to stay at home, and work from home if possible. Whether there in such a case is an obligation to pay the employee if work from home is not possible must be assessed case to case.
- The government has closed all kindergartens and schools to 13 April (this may be extended).
- The government has stated that employees should work from home as far as possible.
- The government has imposed 14-day mandatory quarantine for anyone travelling from abroad. In addition, some municipalities have imposed mandatory quarantine for anyone travelling from another municipality.
- The government has closed all businesses with particularly high risk of infection (such as fitness centres, swimming pools, hair cutters, massage institutes, traffic stations, bars etc.)
- You can require work from home and must facilitate this if it is decided. The current guidelines from the government recommend work from home as far as possible. We recommend you give employees guidance and information on how to work from home.
- You can require an employee to stay away from work even if the authorities do not quarantine him or her, if you consider it necessary to reduce risk of spread of the coronavirus. You can decide to close the workplace.
- You can terminate employment contracts if the normal terms in the Working Environment Act are present.