Equal treatment at work
Prohibition of discrimination
Ensuring an inclusive and diverse work environment is an important task for companies, as it provides good conditions for creating a non-discriminatory work environment. Diversity in the workforce, with the different perspectives and experiences this entails, also provides a better basis for innovation.
Reflecting and understanding customers and the world in which companies operate, for example through employees mastering different languages and expanding their understanding of different cultures, offers an important competitive advantage in the battle for clients.
Moreover, a focus on diversity and inclusion, and ways in which differences can be best utilised and developed, may be considered a great asset to productivity.
Inclusion and diversity is a corporate social responsibility and legislation in the field of labour law places certain requirements on companies to fulfil this.
The purpose of the Working Environment Act is, among other things, to ensure equal treatment at work, to facilitate adjustments to an individual employee's working situation according to the individual employee's capabilities and circumstances, and to foster inclusive working conditions. See Section 1-1 of the Working Environment Act (the purpose provision). The Act also stipulates requirements for the individual enterprise to be set up for employees of both sexes (Section 4-1), and requirements for facilitation for employees with reduced working capacity (Section 4-6).
The law also provides that access, sanitary facilities, work equipment, etc, as far as possible and reasonable shall be designed and arranged so that employees with disabilities can work in the company (Section 4-1). This requirement applies not only to companies employing staff with disabilities, but also to companies without such employees. The provision thus has a direct impact on job opportunities for groups that are dependent on certain facilities in the workplace.
The Working Environment Act and the Equality and Discrimination Act prohibit discrimination, among other things, due to political views, age, gender, pregnancy, ethnicity, outlook on life, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. See the Working Environment Act, Section 13-1 and the Equality and Discrimination Act, chapters 2 and 5.
The prohibition of discrimination applies to all aspects of an employment relationship, including the announcement of a position, during the employment process, and for pay and working conditions.
The prohibition of discrimination in an employment process is also emphasised by the Gender Equality and Discrimination Act establishing a prohibition on obtaining certain information in such a process, for example information about an applicant's pregnancy, religion, ethnicity and disability (see Section 30). The Gender Equality and Discrimination Act not only prohibits discrimination, but also has as a general purpose the promotion of equality, including improving the position of women and minorities.
For further information on this topic please contact Ole Kristian Olsby or Nina Elisabeth Thjømøe at Homble Olsby | Littler by telephone (+47 23 89 75 70) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Homble Olsby | Littler website can be accessed at www.homble-olsby.no.