Reminder of the changes in the Norwegian Working Environment Act in effect from 1 January 2019.

The changes in the Norwegian Working Environment Act adopted on 22 June 2018, with effect from 1 January 2019, imply tightened requirements for permanent employment as well as an extended access for employees to demand permanent employment. Furthermore, the employers’ access to hire workers from manpower agencies has been further restricted. Manpower agencies can no longer keep employees on contracts of employment without a duty of remuneration between the work assignments.

For a long time, there has been an extensive practice within the manpower agencies to hire employees without guaranteed pay, hence the employees have only received wages upon working on assignments. The change in the requirement of permanent employment result in this form of contract no longer being allowed.

From now on, the employees in manpower agencies must, in principle, be a permanent employee with the right to pay based on a closer determined percentage of employment or a defined number of working days or working hours. However, temporary appointment and calling on employees is still allowed provided that the terms of temporary appointment are fulfilled in the individual cases. Thus, the access to use of temporary employment for manpower agencies still depend on whether the requirements for temporary employment are fulfilled within the manpower agency itself. The most relevant cases are work of temporary character or temporary employment in accordance with the general provision for up to 15 % of the workforce for up to 12 months. If the manpower agency has a steady and permanent need for hire out assignments, the employees must be permanently employed. A company’s hire of temporary employees from manpower agencies are still subjected to the requirements for temporary employment in section 14-9 (2) letter a – e.

Up to these changes were made, all companies bound by a collective agreement could enter into a special agreement with elected representatives regarding access to hire, regardless of the requirements of section 14-9 (2) letter a – e. Now, only companies bound by a collective agreement with a labour union with a right of nomination in accordance with the Labour Dispute Act will have this opportunity. These are labour unions with at least 10 000 members, or employers’ associations with at least 100 employers which together have 10 000 employees. Thus, it can no longer be agreed on hire beyond the requirements of the Working Environment Act through so called house agreements (“husavtaler”).

The legislator has also defined the content of the term permanent employment. Permanent employment means that the employment is ongoing and indefinite and that there must be a predictability as to the scope of the position, and as to the fact that the Working Environment Act’s rules of termination of employment apply. The contract of employment must state either a percentage of employment or specify the number of workdays each week or working hours for each day. Furthermore, the employee must easily be able to understand when he or she has to work, particularly in the case of rotation or periodic work.