Hjort’s employment law department holds top rankings from the international ranking companies Legal 500 and Chambers Europe, and is one of Norway’s leading employment law practices. Employees are the main asset of modern businesses, and have both expectations and demands as to how employers should run businesses and safeguard employee interests.
Hjort advises employers in a wide range of industries on issues arising at all stages of the employment relationship. Our priority is to provide effective and pragmatic solutions. Close cooperation between each client and our tailored legal team fosters understanding of the client’s business and enables us to provide the appropriate type and level of legal service.
Our employment law team is leading in Norway, and our lawyers have many years’ experience of negotiations, critical reorganisations and strategic decision-making related to termination and revision of employment relationships. We also have in-depth industry knowledge and extensive experience. Our team includes highly experienced specialists in areas such as individual and collective employment law, pensions, GDPR and public-sector employment law. Further, we liaise with, and can draw on, lawyers in other countries when assignments have an international dimension.
Our clients include many of Norway’s largest employers, small- and medium-sized enterprises, public bodies and international undertakings, as well as individual employees. Our experience of advising and assisting both employers and employees gives us a broader perspective, and enables us to analyse and select the right solution when disagreements arise.
Employment, staffing solutions and employment agreements
We advise employers on the preparation of all types of employment agreements, employment terms and staffing solutions. We also assist with the implementation of guidelines and policies at national and international level. We have substantial experience of drafting management-level contracts and non-compete clauses, as well as setting up incentive/bonus schemes.
Working conditions, working environment and sick leave
We have extensive experience of handling conflicts between an employer’s management prerogative and employee rights. Sick leave is a common source of conflict. In our experience, many disputes at Norwegian workplaces could be avoided if the parties had better insight into and more realistic expectations regarding the rights and obligations of parties to an employment relationship. We also have broad experience of advising on and lending support in connection with work accidents and supervisory cases, including communication with relevant authorities and the police.
Norwegian businesses are becoming increasingly international, increasing the need for active personnel management. The number of Norwegian businesses with international owners is also increasing, and the employment market is being impacted by cross-border workforce mobility. These developments raise legal questions related to transnational rights and working conditions during deployment/posting, as well as a need to adapt to global guidelines and policies.
Through our international networks of legal partners, we have continuous access to legal experts wherever we may require them. These networks include IusLaboris, which comprises lawyers and legal specialists on employment and pension law. Our networks allow us to provide Norwegian clients with speedy, high-quality, global assistance in cases concerning local legislation and cultural norms.
Through our collaboration with the international legal network, we always have access to legal expertise wherever we may require them. One of our networks is IusLaboris which consists of lawyers and legal specialists within employment and pension law. The network ensures that our Norwegian clients receive the same prompt high quality and universal assistance when it involves local legislation and cultural relationships in other countries.
Our lawyers advise employers and organisations on all aspects of collective employment law, including negotiations and dispute resolution before Norway’s Labour Court.
Our lawyers regularly assist both employers and employees with individual and collective pension issues. These include transitioning from defined-benefit to defined-contribution schemes, drafting individual and collective funded and unfunded pension agreements, operational pensions and resolution of disputes. We also advise on disputes between businesses concerning liability for pension-scheme costs. In the latter type of case, we often liaise with an actuary.
We have extensive expertise in and experience of drafting and litigating non-compete and non-solicitation clauses in employment contracts.
In 2016, lawyers from our team wrote the book “Non-compete and non-solicitation in employment relationships”, which remains the only Norwegian-language book covering this complex field.
Downsizing, termination and dismissal
Hjort advises on all aspects of employee termination. Our lawyers help ensure that such processes are handled correctly and as efficiently as possible. We assist with the assessment of imminent and implemented terminations, suspensions, lay-offs, dismissals and other disciplinary measures, as well as the handling and settlement of employment disputes.
Restructuring and business transfers
Norway’s employment laws are designed to protect employees’ rights in connection with company restructurings and business transfers, and employers are therefore subject to strict procedural rules during such processes. Our lawyers advise on the planning and implementation of restructurings and business transfers, and can help to avoid unnecessary and time-consuming conflicts, burdens and expenses. We regularly assist with the planning and implementation of such processes, and have many years’ experience of negotiating with employee representatives and trade unions.
Whistleblowing and internal inquiries
All companies have a duty to provide an appropriate working environment and ensure that their businesses are run properly. An important aspect of this duty is the provisions of the Working Environment Act on the right to report suspected wrongdoing without repercussions.
Companies are obliged to draw up routines for internal reporting, and to establish other mechanisms to facilitate whistleblowing. We are regularly asked to assist with the development of such guidelines.
We have extensive experience of conducting independent reviews and investigations into reported matters, as well as full external enquiries. In addition, we regularly advise whistleblowers and persons or companies accused of wrongdoing.
Privacy and GDPR
All employers in Norway must comply with the Personal Data Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For over twenty years, we have advised businesses on the data protection implications of working conditions. This includes employer monitoring of employees with regard to daily activities and in conflict situations, access to emails and other electronically stored materials, investigation assignments, transfer of personal data outside the EEA/EU (including cloud services), evaluation and establishment of data security procedures (including documentation requirements related to information security and internal control) and assistance with supervisory and complaints cases involving the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and the Norwegian Privacy Appeals Board.
Litigation and dispute resolution
When cases cannot be resolved through mediation, disputes are often settled in court. Our team includes leading Norwegian litigators, many of whom are admitted to the Norwegian Supreme Court.
Our lawyers have extensive experience of litigating employment disputes before the ordinary courts, arbitration tribunals and the Labour Court.
"They have very good skills, they perform in good time, and they are very self-motivated and proactive, which saves a lot of time"
– Chambers and Partners, 2019