Sick pay an issue in the parliamentary election campaign

Download article in original language : NO9708119NNO.DOC

In connection with the parliamentary elections in Norway on 15 September 1997, several labour-related issues are on the agenda - including the sick pay scheme, which several of the parties would like to see changed.

On 15 September 1997, a new Parliament will be elected in Norway, and electioneering is in full progress. So far, opinion polls indicate a radical change in the balance of power in the forthcoming Parliament. Most surprising so farf is the massive support the Progress Party (a populist party to the right of the Conservative Party) seems to be receiving, along with the set-back the Labour Party and Conservative Party seem to be facing. The Prime Minister has stated that the sitting Labour Government will hand in its resignation if its electoral support is less than in the last general election. However, given the present support for the various political parties in Norway, the question of finding a viable government or government coalition is very uncertain.

Several labour-related questions have been put on the election agenda. Perhaps the most important concerns the sick pay scheme. Compared with many other countries, Norway has a very generous sick pay scheme with 100% coverage from day one. The employer must cover the sick pay for the first 14 days, whereafter sick pay is covered by the national insurance scheme. Previously, there have been proposals to change the scheme, but there has been a parliamentary majority to retain the present system as long as the labour market parties initiated measures in order to reduce the levels of sick leave. Several of the centre parties, as well as the Conservative and Progress parties, would like to see the scheme changed by introducing one or more waiting days, combined with a reduction in the financial compensation. The Centre Party has, however, declared its support for the present system, and by doing so has shown that the centre parties, which would like to form a coalition government, are not united over this issue.

Other labour issues which have appeared on the election agenda are questions concerning the Worker Protection and Working Environment Act's regulations on temporary employment and the use of overtime, the question of the prohibition of leasing labour, and the question of private placement services (NO9708118F). In all of these issues the right-wing parties (the Conservative and Progress parties) would like to see a liberalisation of current regulations. Several of the centre parties have also argued in favour of certain changes, for example with regard to the permissibility of temporary employment.

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