New Measures Against Work-Related Crime

New Legislation Enacted

The Parliament has adopted new legislation to prevent and counteract work related crime: (i) Wages must be paid into employees' accounts via a bank transfer (not by cash), which will contribute to reducing the extent of undeclared work and improve employees' financial situations; (ii) Criminal penalties for wage theft (including fine and imprisonment), for an employer who fails to pay wages or other remuneration to the employee, pays too little to the employee, or demands repayment of wages already paid; and (iii) Criminal penalties for business leaders who fail to establish an occupational pension scheme or comply with the minimum requirements of the Act on Mandatory Occupational Pensions. The new provisions will be effective from January 1, 2022.

The After-Effect of a Collective Agreement

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

In a June 2, 2021 judgment, the Supreme Court ruled on the after-effect of collective agreements. The dispute concerned the extent to which nurses at a retirement home could retain the benefit of salary-increase provisions that followed from a previous collective agreement, after the employer had changed employers’ organization, and the parties therefore were bound by a new collective agreement. The Supreme Court held that the provision on salary increases for long service in a collective bargaining agreement must be regarded as individual wage terms that become part of the individual's employment contract, and that they do not lapse following the termination of the collective agreement. The question of whether expired collective agreements can remain effective in individual contracts must now be considered conclusively clarified by the Supreme Court.

New Law on Business Transparency and Human Rights

New Regulation or Official Guidance

On June 14, 2021, the Parliament passed the new Transparency Act to promote companies’ respect for fundamental human rights and decent working conditions. The Act applies to larger enterprises which are domiciled in Norway, and which offer goods or services in or outside Norway, as well as foreign enterprises which are taxable in Norway, and which offer goods or services in Norway.

The companies covered by the Transparency Act must carry out due diligence assessments in accordance with the OECD's guidelines for multinational companies. The companies must also publish a report on the due diligence assessment. The report must be updated and published by June 30 each year. In addition, the companies must provide information on how the company handles actual and potential negative consequences for fundamental human rights and decent working conditions to anyone who submits a written request.

Amendments to Work from Home Regulations

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Regulations on “work from home” (WFH) have gained new relevance during the pandemic. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has now sent out a proposal for changes to the regulations, for consultation, to adapt the rules to current technological and social realities. Among other things, the Ministry proposes: (i) Clarification of the scope of the regulations; (ii) An exception from the requirement for a written agreement where WFH is due to orders or recommendations from the authorities; (iii) Clarification that the provision on the working environment also covers psychosocial conditions; and (iv) That the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority will have competence to supervise compliance with the regulations.

Retaliation Cases After Whistleblowing to be Handled by Anti-Discrimination Tribunal

Proposed Bill or Initiative

If an employee believes themself to be the subject of illegal retaliation for having reported censurable conditions at the employer’s undertaking, the employee must take legal action to clarify the dispute in the court. The financial risk involved implies that there are few notification cases that are processed in the courts. To strengthen the protection of whistleblowers, the Government proposes to establish a low threshold offer where the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal is given the authority to decide disputes about alleged retaliation after whistleblowing.