Clean development scheme, Norway
‘Clean development’ (Ren Utvikling) is a certification scheme and an industry development programme for companies in the Norwegian cleaning industry. An important feature of the initiative is its emphasis on developing industry practices that are less prone to undeclared work. All of the participating industrial cleaning companies are obliged to provide documentation that their accounts and tax records are in order.
A large proportion of the work carried out in the industrial cleaning sector is, and has for some years been, undeclared work. The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon, NHO) and its branch in the services sector – the National Federation of Service Industries (Servicebedriftenes Landsforening, SBL), also known as NHO Service – have developed a certification scheme for companies that are ‘clean’ in terms of their business practices.
In order to be certified, the companies must have a collective agreement with the Norwegian Union of General Workers (Norsk Arbeidsmandsforbund, NAF), which is the trade union organising employees in the cleaning industry. The project is a voluntary arrangement, with the aim of branding the participating enterprises as being ‘clean’ and decent.
The initiative aims to raise the level of decent work practices in the industrial cleaning sector through the development of a certification scheme. One of the instruments established in the scheme is a documentation requirement with regard to taxes, making sure that the enterprises do not use undeclared work.
An important objective is to provide user companies with a list of service providers in the cleaning industry whose activities are proven to comply with existing rules and standards in relation to tax as well as the working environment and workers’ rights. User companies may therefore contribute to a more transparent sector by choosing service providers participating in the ‘clean development’ programme.
Companies that participate in the certification scheme have to submit copies of their audit report for the previous year and the director’s report for the previous year. They also have to confirm that the company has submitted and had their annual balance of accounts approved by the Brønnøysund Register Centre (Brønnøysundregistrene), a government agency comprising several different national data registers. Furthermore, the companies have to provide evidence on tax and duty arrears from the tax collector and chief municipal treasurer (kommunekassereren), as well as a bank statement showing that taxes have been deducted by the employer from the employees’ wages on behalf of the tax collector.
In addition, the participating companies have to deliver other forms of documentation, on subjects such as health, environment and safety issues, insurance and other work-related matters. Among the documentation requirements are lists of elected safety officials (verneombud), as well as the annual report of the working environment committee.
Evaluation and outcome
Achievement of objectives
The scheme has been in operation for some years. In 2008, a total of 27 certified companies were present in the cleaning industry. This constitutes only a fraction of the total number of enterprises in the industrial cleaning sector, and the ‘clean development’ project has not fundamentally changed the industry. Nevertheless, it has given responsible companies in the sector a way of developing and branding themselves.
Good possibilities exist for transferring this initiative to other countries.
National Federation of Service Industries, information on the ‘clean development’ initiative, available online at: http://www.nhoservice.no/category.php/category/Ren%20Utvikling/?categoryID=207.
Kristine Nergaard and Jørgen Svalund, Fafo, Institute for Labour and Social Research