Homble Olsby | Littler
Homble Olsby law firm is specialised within employment and labour law. We also assist clients within general commercial law, inter alia litigation, contract law, company law and insurance law.Show more
Employment & Immigration
The Gulating Court of Appeal recently issued a decision which considered whether an employer had issued an unjustifiable termination and offer of new employment on new terms. As opposed to the district court, the majority of the Gulating Court of Appeal accepted the employee's claim and awarded her compensation.
In the revised Budget 2021, the government has refrained from introducing an 'employer period II' in the event of temporary lay-offs (known as 'furlough' in some jurisdictions). The rationale for this is that based on the current situation, employer period II would not serve as an incentive to bring employees back to work and would merely constitute an extra cost for companies which are already in a difficult financial situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions as to the rules that apply to home offices and placed greater relevance on the Regulations on Work Carried Out in Employees' Homes. There have also been numerous social and technological developments since the regulations entered into force, which has given rise to a need for a review of their provisions. As such, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs recently published proposed amendments to the regulations for consultation.
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise recently agreed to temporarily extend the interruption period for temporary lay-offs from six weeks to 10 weeks. This change will last until 30 September 2021 and makes it easier and less risky for employers to bring temporarily laid-off employees back to work.
The government has proposed several new measures to prevent and counteract work-related crime, including with regard to penalising wage theft, requiring that wages be paid via bank transfer rather than in cash and approving certain businesses to limit rogue actors. Parliament will now consider the proposals.
The government recently submitted a proposal to Parliament for the establishment of a low-threshold service in the Anti-discrimination Tribunal for the processing of alleged unlawful retaliation in notification cases. The proposal means that the Anti-discrimination Tribunal will have the authority to assess the existence of an illegal retaliation and provide redress for non-economic loss and, in some cases, compensation for damages to an employee who has been subjected to illegal retaliation after notification.
The Supreme Court recently issued a decision concerning jobseekers' duty to provide information about previous employment relationships to potential new employers. The court highlighted a set of principled guidelines with regard to the content of the information to be provided and the extent of jobseekers' duty to provide such information. The key takeaway from the judgment is that it is primarily up to employers to clarify qualification requirements and skills that are of significant importance to the position.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have experienced a reduction in their workload and have had to temporarily lay off employees. However, it can be difficult for employers and employees to stay up to date with the rules on temporary lay-offs. This article highlights the key terms and procedural rules relating to temporary lay-offs, providing an overview of the current rules and proposed changes.
The government has made several changes to the regulations concerning the reporting and taxation of benefits in kind. The changes aim to simplify how employers apply the regulations in practice. Previously, gifts from employers were tax free only when they were part of the company's general scheme; however, this requirement has been repealed. The government has also decided that influenza and COVID-19 vaccines covered by employers will be tax free from 2021.
Sickness benefits, work assessment allowance, unemployment benefits and entry quarantine rules extendedNorway | 03 March 2021
As part of the COVID-19 crisis package, the government has proposed to extend the schemes for sickness benefits, the jobseekers' work assessment allowance, unemployment benefits and employers' expenses relating to foreign nationals' entry quarantine and employees' quarantine hotel stays.
Proposal to extend increased daily unemployment benefit and temporary lay-off periods until July 2021Norway | 24 February 2021
The government has proposed to extend until 1 July 2021 both the period in which the increased daily unemployment benefit rate applies and the temporary lay-off period. The government stated that the extended measures aim to give employees and employers more predictability during a difficult time.
The Supreme Court recently pronounced a judgment in which a female employee was awarded damages for non-economic loss after being subjected to sexual harassment by customers. The verdict provides useful clarifications regarding the conditions, and especially the lower limit, for sexual harassment. For employers, the various aspects of the matter are a reminder of the importance of complying with their duty to actively prevent and seek to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
The government has tightened foreign nationals' access to Norway with effect from 29 January 2021. This article discusses the legal impact for affected employers and employees, including with regard to temporary lay-offs, employers' right to prohibit employees' outward journeys, remuneration and support schemes, termination and tax and social security.
Many companies are subject to a statutory activity and reporting obligation relating to equality and non-discrimination. The obligation is regulated in the Gender Equality and Discrimination Act, which imposes a mandatory working method on employers that includes documenting and managing risks of discrimination and obstacles to gender equality within companies. Many companies will have to spend time and resources on implementing sufficient systems and routines to comply with the new rules.
Remote working has become increasingly common as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and many companies are considering introducing more permanent arrangements beyond the pandemic. Although remote working has clear benefits for many, it also has negative aspects and practical and legal challenges. This article highlights various topics and issues that employers should consider when introducing a more permanent scheme for working from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Norwegian employment and immigration world, particularly with respect to ways of working and the legal tools which employers can use. Looking ahead, the increased focus on environmental, social and governance requirements should lead to a greater focus on diversity and inclusion, equal pay and human rights abuses in supply chains. This video examines these matters and the potential impact that they may have on companies in Norway.
The High Court Civil Division recently ruled on whether the termination of two graphic designers from Dagbladet newspaper following a major reorganisation and downsizing process had been valid. A particular point of contention was whether the case processing had been sufficient. The court assessed whether the terminations were valid, the postponement of the service was to be regarded as a business transfer and the graphic designers were entitled to compensation for non-pecuniary damage.
For the first time in history, the Anti-discrimination Tribunal has awarded a remedy for non-economic loss and compensation for gender discrimination in the workplace. The case concerned a female applicant who, after being offered a job, informed the employer that she would be going on maternity leave shortly. The tribunal decided that the employer had discriminated against the applicant based on her gender and highlighted that pregnant jobseekers need not disclose their pregnancy.
Government proposes to extend right to care and sickness benefits and increased unemployment benefit rateNorway | 23 December 2020
As it is difficult to predict the impact that the COVID-19 infection control measures will have on the labour market, the government has proposed to prolong the extended right to care and sickness benefits until the end of June 2021 and March 2021, respectively. In addition, the government has put forward proposals for a continued increase in the unemployment benefit rate until the end of March 2021.
Earlier in 2020, draft regulations on 'own pension accounts' were released for consultation. The new rules will enter into force at the beginning of 2021. The changes aim to make it easier for employees to receive the best possible pension. Employees will be able to choose who will manage their pension capital, which will lead to greater competition in the market.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on whether agreements regarding severance packages in the event of voluntary resignation, which were entered into during a downsizing process, could be partly set aside because they were contrary to good business practices or unreasonableness. To answer this question, the Supreme Court had to decide whether the employees were entitled to an early retirement pension in such a process based on the previous employer's promise.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on whether hired personnel were entitled to a company bonus on an equal footing with permanent employees and apprentices in the company in which they were hired pursuant to the equal treatment rule in Section 14-12a of the Working Environment Act. This article analyses the ruling and highlights the key points for employers.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has implemented several measures to secure jobs, boost the labour market and maintain stability for the workforce, including increasing the unemployment benefit. This temporary amendment originally applied until 31 October 2020. However, the government is set to propose a budget resolution before Parliament to extend the increased unemployment benefit to 31 December 2020.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has proposed to extend the temporary lay-off period to 52 weeks from 1 November 2020. The extension will help the business community financially during an uncertain time. This implies that, among other things, the period in which temporarily laid-off employees may be entitled to unemployment benefits will be extended from 26 weeks to 52 weeks.
COVID-19: change to period in which employers have payroll obligation when temporarily laying off employeesNorway | 09 September 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has implemented several measures to protect businesses, jobs and workers. The government recently adopted changes to the period in which employers have a duty of remuneration when temporarily laying off employees. From 1 September 2020, the duty of remuneration period will be 10 days.
The government has proposed a temporary arrangement under which employers can apply for payroll support to bring their laid-off employees back to work. The grounds for the proposal are that the number of temporarily laid-off employees is still high (as of 2 June 2020, nearly 330,000 full or partially unemployed individuals were registered). The support scheme aims to reduce the number of laid-off individuals and counteract the risk that unemployment in Norway will stabilise at a high level.
In order to deal with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, Parliament has adopted temporary amendments to the rules for temporarily laid-off employees who belong to private pension schemes. As such, employers may choose to allow laid-off employees to retain their membership with a pension scheme during the lay-off period. The individual employee must bear the cost of continuing insurance for the membership, while the business must continue to pay the administrative costs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are relaxed and society gradually reopens, employers may need to call laid-off employees back to work. This article answers FAQs for employers which find themselves in this situation, including when does the temporary lay-off period end, who should be called back to work first and can employers bring employees back part time?
A recent Supreme Court ruling states that the principle of length of service affects companies' possibility to limit the scope for workforce reductions. This applies to companies bound by a collective bargaining agreement that contains a provision concerning the use of length of service in workforce reductions.
From 1 January 2020 the Equality and Anti-discrimination Act has been amended, imposing further duties on employers regarding equality and discrimination. Companies in the public sector and companies with more than 50 employees in the private sector must now carry out a mapping of pay with regard to gender and the uptake of part-time work every two years.
A recent district court ruling demonstrates that an employer can be liable for a customer's sexual harassment towards an employee. The ruling shows that, as a minimum, employers should perform a risk analysis of and have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, have guidelines on sexual harassment matters and immediately address sexual harassment situations if they occur.
Norway's labour legislation has undergone a number of amendments in recent months. For example, Parliament recently adopted a proposal to further strengthen the position of whistleblowers and amendments enhancing the rights of seafarers are set to enter into force in August 2019. In addition, in order to lower the threshold for processing sexual harassment disputes, the Anti-discrimination Tribunal has been authorised to enforce the prohibition on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case concerning the validity of an amendment termination. In its decision, the court commented on the difference between the threshold for amendment terminations and that for ordinary complete terminations of employment. Although the matter at hand was regulated by the Ship Employee Act, the Supreme Court's judgment is relevant for amendment terminations under the Working Environment Act.
Parliament is processing a proposal for amendments to employment legislation concerning whistleblowers to further strengthen their position. The amendments are expected to be effective from 1 July 2019 or 1 January 2020. The main proposed amendments include an extension of the scope of persons subject to the whistleblowing provisions and clarification of the terms 'censurable conditions' and 'retaliation'.
In a recent case, a number of Norwegian Airlines pilots and cabin crew claimed that three of the companies in the Norwegian Group constituted their employer. However, the Supreme Court concluded that only one of the companies constituted their employer. This ruling clarifies the factors which are relevant in assessing whether the engagement of personnel is considered an acquisition of services or a hiring of personnel.
The Anti-discrimination Tribunal recently concluded that a municipality's refusal to extend a temporary employee's contract after he refused to meet their requirement to shake hands with women did not constitute discrimination. However, the tribunal concluded that the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration had discriminated against the employee when it cancelled his social aid following his refusal to comply with the municipality's requirement.
A non-statutory Norwegian rule provides employees with the right to choose to stay with their former employer following a transfer of undertakings provided that certain conditions are met. In this regard, the Supreme Court recently ruled that employees who are subject to a transfer of undertakings can choose to stay with their former employer if it is likely that they will lose their early retirement pension under the new employer.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case in which an employee had challenged the lawfulness of a warning issued by their employer. Prior to this case, Norwegian lawyers had generally been of the view that warnings were part of an employer's right of management and that the courts would not try cases challenging such warnings as they have no actual consequence.
The Supreme Court recently concluded that time spent travelling on an employer's orders constitutes working time. This conclusion is in line with a recent European Free Trade Association Court advisory opinion and has ended a four-year legal battle. The judgment will have a broad impact on the Norwegian labour market, as it raises the level of protection available for employees.
A recent European Free Trade Association Court decision found that travel time in itself constitutes working time if the travel is ordered by the employer. Some employers have argued that the inclusion of travel time in the concept of working time may lead to inexpedient results. However, the court did not agree with this argument. Including necessary travel time in the concept of working time is inevitable in order to protect the safety and health of workers.
Zero-hour contracts are particularly controversial in Norway, which is generally known for its high level of employee protection. For example, in early 2017 a district court held that a formal arrangement under which a staffing agency's full-time employees had not received salary payments between assignments was illegal. Further, the government recently issued a discussion document outlining its proposal to amend the Working Environment Act, which is intended to target zero-hour contracts.
The Labour Court rules on matters concerning the establishment, termination and interpretation of collective agreements, as well as on the individual consequences of a breach of a contractual obligation agreed in such agreements. A recent Supreme Court case questioned the Labour Court's jurisdiction to declare an employee's termination invalid, as the collective agreement did not explicitly mention the consequences of a breach of contractual obligations.
The High Court recently confirmed the general criteria that must be considered when evaluating the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. This distinction is subject to a concrete overall evaluation of the facts in the individual case, including whether the contract imposes a personal work commitment, where the work is conducted and who bears responsibility for the result.
The High Court recently ruled in a case regarding a workforce reduction following the closure of a department store, in which the employer had limited the selection of employees to be made redundant to those at the affected store. The court confirmed the general rule that an employer must consider all employees when reducing its workforce, but held that this rule may be deviated from if there are justifiable grounds to do so.
New rules on restrictive covenants in the labour market entered into force on January 1 2016. The rules are included in the Working Environment Act and include restrictions on clauses governing non-compete and non-solicitation of customers and employees. Employers may still protect their business secrets and know-how through non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, subject to certain restrictive conditions.
The Bogarting Court of Appeal recently ruled in a case regarding choice of law in an international employment dispute. The case, which is still pending, demonstrates the issues that can arise in international employment disputes, including jurisdiction, choice of law and recognition and enforcement. It is important that parties are aware of these issues when entering into international employment contracts.
The government has introduced a bill setting out new rules on restrictive covenants in the labour market. The proposal includes both non-compete clauses and non-solicitation clauses, and would make major amendments to the existing legislation. If implemented, the new rules will have significant implications for both employers and employees.
Traditionally, Norwegian employees have enjoyed extensive rights and protection and Norway has had some of the strictest regulations worldwide regarding the hiring of temporary employees. The rule has been that, subject to specified limitations, all employees are employed permanently. However, new legislation will give employers a general power to hire employees on temporary contracts of up to 12 months.
The Supreme Court recently assessed the question of the applicable standard of proof in a case regarding summary dismissal based on an alleged criminal offence. The court considered the application of the standard of proof in criminal proceedings and whether a lower standard of proof than 'beyond reasonable doubt' would constitute breach of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Norwegian Constitution.