On 2 November 2021, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (the Ministry) issued a consultation letter that proposes the reintroduction of the collective right to bring an action in the context of illegal hiring by staffing companies. This is one of several changes to the Working Environment Act that the government has announced.

The collective right of action gives trade unions the right to bring legal action in their own name in the event of a breach of statutory hiring rules in companies that have hired employees from staffing companies.

Such a right of action for trade unions was originally introduced in 2013 but it was later repealed by the Solberg government in 2015. Now, the new government has sent out a proposal to reintroduce similar rules.

Surveys show that few cases of illegal hiring are brought before the courts. In the consultation letter, the Ministry pointed to the fear of conflict and the loss of work and assignments as a possible cause. Further, hiring assignments are often short-term and many of the hired people are foreign and/or unorganised employees. In the Ministry's view, this suggests that there is a need for strengthened measures to respond to illegal hiring, such as the collective right to bring an action.

The Ministry pointed out that hired employees with a scheme that includes the collective right to bring an action can avoid the burden of suing themselves, and that trade unions can generally, over time, gain a better insight into the hiring company's hiring practices.

Further, such an arrangement will provide an opportunity to sue in situations where there is an illegal practice that is negatively impacting the company's own employees and the overall conditions in the workplace.

Violations of the hiring rules can further have social consequences and affect the competitive conditions for the companies that comply with these regulations.

If the proposal is adopted, it may mean that several claims are made against companies as regards illegal hiring. This can contribute to more illegally hired people gaining permanent employment and/or compensation.

The deadline for submitting consultation responses is 14 December 2021.

For further information on this topic please contact Nina Elisabeth Thjømøeor Ole Kristian Olsby 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.