Norway: Industrial relations profile
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Pay and working time developments
Norway has no statutory minimum wage. In cases where it is evident that foreign workers are subject to lower wages and working conditions than normal, there may be a case for making parts – including the minimum wage levels – of the relevant collective agreement generally applicable. Decisions in such cases are taken by the Norwegian Tariff Board (Tariffnemnda).
Norwegian employees received an average nominal wage growth of 4.1% in the period 2008–2009. In 2011, wage growth was 4.3% (NOU 2012:11).
Employees in the public sector had an average wage growth of 5.0% (state sector) and 4.8% (municipal sector) over the period 2006–2011, compared to 4.9% in the manufacturing sector (both blue- and white-collar employees). Employees in the retail sector experienced annual wage growth of 3.9%.
In 2011, female employees (full-time employees) earned an estimated 87.2% of male salaries. Women’s wages as a percentage of men have remained fairly stable over time when the economy is seen as a whole. Wage differentials between men and women are greatest in the financial and commercial services industry, and smallest in the public sector and among blue-collar workers in the manufacturing industries.
The issue of equal pay between men and women has been on the agenda for a long time. In 2008, a public committee called for the establishment of a state-initiated fund with the aim of reducing the wage gap between female- and male-dominated occupations. Such a publicly financed wage fund has not been realised, but equal pay was nevertheless a central issue in the pay negotiations carried out in 2010.
Figures from TBU suggest that the relative hourly wage costs for workers in the manufacturing industry (in common currency or compared with the main trading partners) increased by an annual 2.4% in the period 2002–2011 (NOU 2012:11). This increase relates partly to the fact that the Norwegian krone (NOK) has been strong in relation to the currencies of Norway’s main trading partners.
The agreement-based weekly working hours in Norway amount to 37.5 hours, while the maximum weekly working time established in the legal framework is 40 hours. Employees doing shift or rotation work are subject to lower weekly working hours. It is possible for working time to be averaged over a certain reference period (annualisation of working time). The statutory number of annual leave days is 21 working days (four weeks and one day), while the agreement-based number of holidays is 25 working days (five weeks). Employees over the age of 60 years have 5 days extra holidays.
Working time is regulated both by law and collective agreements. Collective agreements regulate pay compensation for inconvenient working hours, and usually provide a higher overtime rate than established by the legal framework. In companies covered by collective agreements, management and trade union representatives may also conclude agreements containing provisions that deviate from the provisions of the legal framework – for example, allowing for more overtime or extending the reference period used to calculate average working time.
In Norway, according to 2011 data (Labour Force Survey), 26% of all employees worked part time. Moreover, 41% of women and 13% of men work part time. The proportion of people working part time has remained relatively stable over time, although there is a slight decline in the proportion of women working part time.
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