Working time in the European Union: Norway

PDF version Printer-friendly version
  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 16 November 2009



About
Country:
Norway
Author:
Tom Sterud
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The aim is to obtain a fuller insight into differences in working time across the European Union and into developments in average hours worked both in total and by specific sections of the work force in different Member States over recent years. The concern is to investigate the factors underlying the changes that are observed in the survey data collected and, in particular, how terms and conditions of employment are changing in relation to working time. In general, data refers to the working time of those in employment.

The national contributions collects data inter alia from; firstly the EU Labour Force Survey which covers average hours worked by men and women employees both overall and in part-time and full-time jobs, the proportion of men and women in part-time jobs and the relative number of men and women employed under different arrangements as regards working time. Secondly, from the Fourth European Working Conditions Survey conducted by the European Foundation which covers other aspects of working time, including the number of days worked per week, evening, night and weekend working, the organisation of working time, the proportion of people with second jobs, the time spent commuting as well as on unpaid work.

Sources of data from Norway used to supplement were The Norwegian Labour Force Survey (2000 – 2006) and The Norwegian survey of living conditions (2006), both conducted by Statistics Norway.

Results summarised

The reported average weekly hours spend at paid work and the proportion of people working more than 48 hours in Norway is one of the lowest in Europe, and has shown an overall decrease during the last ten years period.

The proportion of employees working part time is high in a European setting, particularly among women.

The typical Norwegian employee work five day weeks scheduled between 0600 and 1800 and has arranged work between 37 and 38 hours per week.

In all, 31 per cent of all employees reported to work outside regular working hours in 2005. The majority of the employees working inconvenient hours have shift work. This applies to 22% of the total labour force. Regular shift work is the norm, and shift work most typically involves both evening and night work.

Employees in Norway are entitled to flexible working hours provided that this can be accomplished without substantial inconvenience for the business/organization. About 60% of all employees in Norway report that they have to work at fixed or staggered hours.

A higher proportion of male employees reported possibilities for working time banking. People with higher ranking, better paid jobs are more likely to have greater flexibility. Differentiating between public and private sector, the highest proportion of overall flexibility regarding working schedules was reported by employees of the state government.

Average commuting time in Norway was 32 minutes, which increase the daily working hours by 4.8 % for the average worker in Norway.

Compared to all other countries Norway report the second highest level of composite weekly working hours (including paid and unpaid work, and commuting time), and the highest level of average unpaid weekly working hours.

The debate about the impact of time spent on unpaid work at home has to a large extent focused on the negative implications (i.e. economic vulnerability, reduced career possibilities and lower pensions) of the fact that women take more responsibility at home and spend more time on unpaid work than men do. A number of reforms have been carried out that are meant to improve the balance between unpaid (family) work and paid work for both men and women, such as increased period of paid parental leave, a six weeks ‘father’s quote’, ‘time account’ (i.e. an arrangement which gives parents the possibility to combine reduced birth-salary with part time work), and available day-care centres for all children below school age.

Duration of work

Average weekly hours

Does the evidence from the above surveys, and other sources, indicate that, over the past five or ten years, employees are working fewer hours in your country?

Data from the EU labour force survey [EU LFS] show that there has been a decrease in the average weekly number of hours spend on paid work in Norway in the period from 2000 to 2006, from 34.7 hours to 33.4 hours; a 3.7% reduction (Table 1 EU LFS.).

The trend towards a reduction in reported average actual weekly working hours is observed in the Norwegian labour force survey (LFS) data over the last 10-years period, from 35.3 hours in 1996 to 34.6 hours per week in 2006 (among employees aged 16-74). More precisely, the overall slight decrease in reported actual average weekly hours of work is mainly due to a decrease in working hours among men. Male employees report a decrease in actual weekly working hours from 35.5 in 1996 to 34.6 in 2006, whereas the reported average actual weekly working hours among women have stayed rather constant. The reported average actual weekly working hours for women was 30.1 in 1996 and 30.5 in 2006 (LFS 1996 – 2006).

Is there evidence that any such decline in average working time is due more to compositional changes (e.g. more women entering the labour market and working part-time) than to an across-the-board reduction in hours?

The EU LFS report that the proportion of men working part-time in Norway has increased during the last six years, from 10.6% working part time in 2000 to 12.4% working part time in 2006. The proportion of women working part time has remained stable, 43.2% among women reported part time work in 2000 vs. 43.8% in 2006.

The proportion of female to male employees has remained rather constant in Norway from 1996 to 2006. ( Employees by gender and age 1996 – 2006, Statistics Norway).

Traditionally, the overall proportion of women working part-time in Norway has been much higher compared to the proportion of men working part time. The proportion of women working full times has remained rather stable during the last years. In 2000 the proportion of women reporting to work full time was 56.3% compared to 55.4% in 2006. Among men, however, there has been a slight decrease in the proportion reporting to work full time, from 89.3% in 2000 to 86.7% in 2006 (LFS). Thus, overall the data does not support the assumption that a decline in working hours is due to a higher proportion of women entering the labour marked and working part time.

Is there evidence that any fall in average hours over these periods may be due to a reduction in the number of people working very long hours – over 48 per week? Is there evidence that this has been due, to any extent, to the adoption of the EU working time Directive?

The Fourth European Working Conditions Survey 2005 report that the proportion of people working more than 48 hours in Norway was 6% and lowest in Europe. The average proportion of people working more than 48 hours was 14.8% in EU27 and 12.2% in EU 15, and 8.3% in the Nordic countries (excluding Iceland).

As reported above, according to data from LFS a decrease in weekly working hours was mainly observed among male employees. Correspondingly the proportion of men working more than 48 hours a week was lower in 2006 compared to 2000: 10.6% and 16.3%, respectively (LFS 2000 and 2006). The proportion working more than 48 hours among women has also been reduced from 4.4% in 2000 to 2.5% in 2006. This has not, however, led to a decrease in average weekly working hours for women. Most likely this is due to the increase in the proportion of women working full time. Hence, the data partly support the assumption that the average hours may be falling due to a reduction of people working over 48 hours peer week, but this trend is mainly observed among male employees.

The maximum 48 hours working week was established in Norway already in 1919. Hence, t he 1993 Working Time Directive (93/104/EC), setting a 48-hour maximum working week and laying down requirements for rest and leave periods, did not lead to a stricter working time regime as seen from a Norwegian perspective. Thus, there is no reason to believe that the reduction in the proportion of people reporting to work over 48 hour per week is due to the adaptation of the EU working time directive. Although it cannot be ruled out that the Working Time Directive has brought about a greater awareness on this topic.

Annual hours worked

To what extent is the notion of annual working time (calculated to take account of annual holidays, including public holidays, as well as average weekly hours) in common use in political or everyday discussion, or in social partner negotiations?

The notion of annual working time is not in common use in political or everyday discussions in Norway. What is more typically discussed is average weekly working hours or daily working hours, but also the length of the yearly vacation. For example, one important discussion during the last years there has been a debate whether or not shift work in the health sector should be set equal with continuous rotating shift work in the industry (see also NO0711029I). The discussion has focused upon whether or not one should harmonize the work hours between the two sectors by reducing it from 35.5 to 33.6 hours per week in the health sector. Another example is the discussion whether or not one should reduce the length of the working day in general. Among others, the idea of a 6 hours working day has been formulated by the largest working Union in Norway (The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, LO) to improve the psychosocial work environment, to provide work to more people, and to ensure that people will stay in work longer. In 2001 an elongation of the holidays from 4 to 5 weeks per year was negotiated as a part of the general wage settlement in the majority of the sectors.

Is there any evidence that the number of weeks worked per year has declined over the past five or ten years due to increased holidays, or time off for other purposes?

In Norway holidays is regulated by the Act relating to holidays, which ensures all employees 25 days off (including Saturdays) per year. The wage settlement in 2001 gave many employees an extra 5th week of vacation (e.g. four additional days, from 21 to 25 days of vacation per year). This extra week was not, however, made an integrate part of the general “vacation law”, but most employees are entitled to five weeks vacation according to their collective agreements (approx 78% of all employees). Among employees 60 year or older, for whom this extra week was granted by law, and additional 6th week is granted in so far as they are covered by the collective agreement. However, most people are entitled to five weeks vacation according to their collective agreements (approx 78% of all employees). Adding up with the enterprises following the collective agreement, 90 % of Norwegian workers have 5 weeks vacation.

Days of work per week

Is the five-day week the predominant norm, as opposed to other patterns – four days, four and a half-days, five and a half-days, six days?

According to the data from the EWCS 2005 the five days week is still the predominant norm in Norway, in all 63.8% report to be working 5 days a week of all employee’s in Norway compared to an average of 64.5% across all EU countries. Compared to all other European Union countries Norway has a relatively high proportion of employees working less than five days a week. About 25% of all employees report to be working less than five days per week. This is the second highest proportion in Europe, with only the Netherlands reporting a higher proportion of people working less than five days a week. On the other side of the scale, Norway has a relatively low proportion of employees working more than five days per week; approximately 9.6% report to be working more than five days a week, which is at level with the numbers in Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland. The relatively high proportion of employees working less than five days a week in Norway may be explained by the relatively high proportion of part time workers in Norway. Overall, however, the data imply that the five days week is the predominant norm in Norway.

Are there any obvious trends in this respect – for example, to reduce the number of days worked per week, but to increase the number of hours worked each day?

We do not have sufficiently detailed data to provide and answer to this question.

Full-time and part-time working

Has part-time working grown relative to full-time working over the past five or ten years? Are there major gender differences in the patterns of part-time working?

According to data from the LFS the proportions working part-time in Norway has moderately increased from 2000 to 2006. Overall the proportion of women working part-time is much higher than the proportion of men working part time in Norway. The proportion of women working part time in 2006 was 43.8% compared to 12.9% among men. Regarding trends in full time and part time work among men and women the proportion of male employees working part times has shown an increase in Norway from 10.4% in 2000 to 12.9% in 2006. Among female employees, however, the proportion of employees working part time has remained fairly constant. In 2000 43.6% of all employed women reported to be working in part time jobs vs. 44.3% in 2006.

Does the government encourage part-time working, either ‘passively’ (i.e. through the workings of social security or taxation rules) or ‘actively’ (e.g. in the sense of particular incentives being offered)?

An important distinction in the political discussion of part time work is the self-chosen part time as opposed to the involuntary underemployment, which is defined as employees with part-time work hours who want to work full-time or increase the number of hours worked per week. However, although it is recognised that for some employees part-time work may be a preferred option in some life stages the government in Norway does not generally encourage part-time work. On the contrary, the important discussion in Norway during the last years has been how to reduce the proportion of people who work involuntary part-time, especially among women (see also NO0506102F). In Norway the proportion of part time workers, particularly among women, is high in a European setting. To the extent that the government have a policy on this area, the goal has been to prevent involuntary part time and to bring more women into full time work. Hence, to encourage part time working to get more women into the labour marked or to create work for more people, has not been a part of the policy of the Norwegian government

/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/parliament-passes-new-working-environment-legislation.

Collective bargaining

What are the main working time concerns and priorities of trade unions in collective bargaining?

A 6 hours working day, 5 days and 30 hours work week, without any reduction in salary has for many year been the ambition of LO. The main argument has been that this will lead to greater equality, in that more people may get the possibility to take up work and also stay in work for a longer period, and also to a reduction in sick leave. So far the 6 hours working day has only been tried out on project basis in some organisations and businesses. The 6 hours day was on LO priority-list for 2006, but the claim has not yet received any support in the negotiations.

Full working time should be a right – part time an option has been formulated as an important claim by LO and others, in order to prevent involuntary part-time and underemployment, especially among women. The trade(s) union movement has fronted that

The Working Environment Act should include regulations giving priority to part time employees when new full time positions are announced. On the other hand, however, in the proposition on the new Working Environment Act it is also emphasised that this should not overrule professional competence or other essential needs on behalf of the enterprise, so that the precedence should not contribute to any considerable inconvenience for the enterprise.

Equal status in terms of similar average weekly working hours for shift work in the health sectors and shift work in the industries has been an important claim made by LO, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation and other worker organisations. A panel consisting of representatives from the two industrial branches has discussed and reported on this topic, but with no result so far. The government has now established an expert panel with a mandate to describe the scope and the practice of shit work in different industries, including type of shift work arrangements, the connection between part time (voluntary or involuntary) and different types of shift work.

Unregulated working hours and lack of compensation for overtime has been a major concern among The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (“Akademikerne”), the primary Norwegian organisation for professionals with higher education. They have argued that the recent proposal from the government is too liberal with regard to defining the group of employees that may be exempted from the law regulations on working hours (Ot.prp. nr. 49 2004-2005). The associations’ main demand has been that only the main executives, and also employees in particularly independent positions with independent decision-making authority should be exempt from the working hours regulations, and that this should be stated in an individual written agreement for each case. In these rare cases it is stress that the employees should have the right to take out this overtime as vacation. Recently, new proposals for a wording of this act was send out for comments by the government (link in Norwegian).

Is part-time working generally viewed positively, or accepted reluctantly, by trade unions?

An important distinction when discussing part time work is that between self-chosen part time and underemployment, defined as employees with part-time work hours who want to work full-time or increase the number of hours worked per week. The trade unions in Norway have not traditionally been opposed to part time in general, but they are reluctant to part-time implying underemployment. For example, an important issue for LO and others during the last years has been that shift work, especially in the women dominated health sector, should not be organized in a way which gives raise to many small part time positions.

Work schedules

The working day and working week

To what extent does the standard ‘full-time’ working day – 08.00/09.00 to 17.00/18.00 - prevail as the norm?

Data from the latest survey of living conditions show that Standard full time working day still prevail as the norm, in all 71.1% of Norwegian employees report their working time to be between 0600 and 1800 in 2006 (Survey of living conditions, Statistics Norway 2006).

To what extent does the ‘standard time norm’ of the working week (40 hour, 5 day week) prevail?

Data from the EWCS 2005 show that the five days week is by far the most typical working week in Norway, about 63.8% of all employees in Norway report to work 5 days per week.

However, in Norway the standard time norm is 37,5 hours per week and not 40 hours. As can bee seen from the data in EWCS 2005 most people, in all 44% of all employees in Norway report that they work between 35-38 hours per week.

Data from the Norwegian labour survey (2006) show that 49.6% of all employees in reported that their arranged weekly working hours (in the first and second job) was between 37 and 38 hours per week, which is similar to what was reported in 2000 (50.1%). In 2006 14.0 % reported that their arranged working hours was 20 hours or less, 14.1 21-34 hours, 54.6 % 35-38 hours per week, 5.7% 39-41 hours per week, and 4.9% 41-48 hours, and 6.7% more than 48 hours per week. Overall, however, all available indicators show that the standard time norm (37.5 hours, 5 day week) prevails in Norway.

Non-standard work arrangements

To what extent are non-standard working time arrangements – evening, night and week-end work - mainly limited to those sectors of the economy where it is difficult to avoid – e.g. shift working in continuous process plants or lunch-time and evening work in restaurants?

The number of employees working outside regular working hours in Norway was 648 000, or 31 per cent, in the second quarter of 2005, according to figures from the LFS, which is an increase from 29% in 2001. The majority of employees working inconvenient hours have shift work. This applies to 22 per cent of all employees (see LFS patterns of working time).

Data from the LFS (2 quarter 2000 and 2005) show that the relative ranking of the industries according to non-standard work arrangements have stayed rather constant from 2000 to 2005 (see Fig. 1 to 3).

Fig 1 Proportions reporting to work evenings by sector (LFS 2 quarter 2000/5)

Fig 2 Proportions reporting to work nights by sector (LFS 2 quarter 2000/5)

Fig 3 Proportions reporting to work weekends by sector (LFS 2 quarter 2000/5)

Non standard working time arrangements are still most common in the hotel and restaurant industry, as well as in transport, health and social services, retail trade, and agriculture and fishing.

Fig 1 and 2 show that the proportion of people working evening- and night shift are clearly highest in the ‘hotel and restaurant industry’ and in ‘transport and telecommunication’ followed by ‘agriculture, fishing and forestry’, Mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply, and health services. All other industries are below average. In the hotel and restaurant industry, 70 per cent of all employees work evenings, and more than 40 per cent work weekends.

Fig 3 show that the proportion of people reporting to work weekends (i.e. working Saturdays or Sundays) is highest within the following sectors: Hotels and restaurants, ‘Agriculture, fishing and forestry’, ‘Transport/telecommunication’, and Retail trade. Within the ‘Hotels and restaurant sectors 84.6% reported to work weekends; 84.1% reported to work Saturdays and 66.7% reported to work Sundays. Among these the proportion reporting to work two or more Saturdays and Sundays per month were 18.1% and 25.9%, respectively.

Overall, the main picture is that non-standard working time arrangements – evening, night and weekend work – are most frequent in those sectors of the economy where it is difficult to avoid, such as in the ‘hotel and restaurant industry’, ‘transport and telecommunication’, and among ‘health and social services workers’. However, as can be seen form fig 1 to 3, employees within all sectors report non-standard working time arrangements. To evaluate whether or not this is limited to specific occupations within these sectors where it is difficult to avoid, a sector perspective is not sufficient.

Is there a tendency for non-standard schedules to enter into other areas of the economy, where it may not be strictly necessary, but where it may have attractions – for employers wishing to make more intensive use of their plant, equipment and other facilities, and for workers wishing to attain a better work-life balance or a more convenient means of taking care of children?

As shown in fig 1-3 above, there has been a slight increase in non-standard schedules during the last year. However, the relative ratings of sectors according to the proportions of employees reporting non-standard schedules have remained rather constant. Moreover, the largest increases in non-standard schedules seem to have taken place within sectors where non-standard schedules were already common. Thus, overall there is no clear indication that non-standard schedules enter into other areas of the economy, at least not when evaluated at sector level.

To what extent are weekend working and other non-standard working arrangements the result of seasonal work (such as in tourism)?

No available data

Shift working

How important is regular shift working (as opposed to occasional shifts to cope with increased temporary demand) in your country?

There is no available data that directly addresses this question. However, by combining the three questions ‘fulltime / part time”, “shift work / no shift work”, and “underemployed / not underemployed (here defined by the single item: do you want to work longer weekly hours?) (The Norwegian LFS, second quarter 2005), the question may be approached in an indirect way, by distinguishing between shift workers who work full time, shift workers who work part time, but who do not report to be underemployed, and finally, shift workers who work part time and reported that they are underemployed. The first group (full time shift workers) constitutes the largest group (14.1% of all employees), and may be claimed to be an approximation to regular shift working. In contrast, the last group, (part time shift workers who report that they are not satisfies with the average amount of weekly working hours), may be claimed to represent a group of employees who work shift occasionally to cope with increased demand for temporary workers, or other needs of the employer. This group constitutes a relatively small group, 2.6% of all employees. The second group, however, who report to work part time shift work, but who are satisfied with the amount of weekly working hours (5.1% of all employees), is more difficult to interpret. This group may include two groups of people. Those who work occasional shifts because is suits them, but possibly also employees who work shift occasionally to cope with increased with temporary demands, but who see this as a mutual agreement. Among those who report that they work shift, 62.3% report that they work full time, 26.3% report that they work part time without reporting being underemployed, whereas 11.4% report part time shift work wanting longer weekly hours. In conclusion, based on this indirect approach, regular shift work (i.e. working full time shift) is clearly the most important from of shift work in Norway.

Is shift-working predominantly carried out in specific sectors, and is there any tendency for it to decline (for example as a result of reducing capacity in traditional sectors) or to increase (as employers everywhere seek to make more intensive use of capital investments)?

Fig 4 Proportion of employees reporting to work shift by sector (LFS 2 quarter 2000 and 2005)

According to data from the LFS 2 quarter 2005 on working time (fig 4), the highest proportions of shift work was reported within the three sectors Hotels and restaurants (48.7%), transport and communication (44.7%) and health and social work (47.6%), followed by ‘mining, quarrying, electricity, gas and water supply’ (30.1%), and ‘agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing (26.6%). The proportion of shift workers in the remaining sectors was below average (24.1%). Categorized by occupational group the highest proportions of shift work were reported among ‘Nurses’ (72.2%) and “auxiliary nurses and caring workers” (54.3%).

There has been a slight increase in the proportion of people who work regular shift work during the last years from 20.7% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2005. Looking into the data at sector level the main impression is that the relative distribution of shift work across sector has stayed rather stable from 2000 to 2005. The largest increases in the proportions of shift workers was reported within ‘retail trade’, ‘mining, quarrying, electricity, gas and water supply and ‘agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing’, which may partly support the assumption of an increase to make more intensive use of capital investment in these sectors. The largest decrease in the proportion of workers reporting to work shift is found within ‘hotels and restaurants’.

What kinds of shift systems dominate – regular mornings, afternoon or nights or mixed patterns?

Data from the EWCS 2005 show that in Norway in all 22.7% report to have shift work, which is a relatively high share of shift work compared to both the EU15 (16%) and the EU27 (17%). Out of the total of 22.7% reporting to work shift, 0.1% report working daily split shifts, 9.9% report working permanent shifts (morning, afternoon or night), 11.8% report working rotating shifts, and 1.9% report working other shifts.

According to data from the LFS (2 quarter 2005) the proportion that report regular day work in the total working population was 53.1%. The proportion reporting to work evenings was 28%, and the proportion working nights only was 1.0%. The proportion reporting to work mixed patterns (both evening and night work) was 17.9%. Similar proportions were reported in the LFS of 2000. Among those reporting to work shift in 2005, in total 24.6%, the corresponding proportions was 10.5% (day only), 39.5% (evenings), 2.1% (nights only), and 47.5% (evening and nights). In conclusion, in the total Norwegian working population regular daytime work is most typical. Among shift-workers, however, the most typical is to work both evenings and nights.

Organisation of working time

Flexibility of working time

How far do individual workers have influence over their own working time arrangements – for example over the time they start and end work?

Data from the EWCS 2005 show that the proportion of employees in Norway who have influence over their own working time arrangement is relatively high in an EU setting. In Norway 37.2% report that they can fully determine their working time or have the possibility to adapt working hours within certain limits compared to an average of 24% in the EU-25. However, when looking into these items separately the proportion who report that working hours entirely determined by themselves are lower in Norway than the EU average (5.6% vs. 6.5%), whereas the proportions who have the possibility to adapt working hours within certain limits are substantially higher than the EU average (31.6% vs. 17.5%). Moreover, the proportion reporting working time flexibility in Norway is lower than the other Nordic countries (e.g. Sweden, Denmark and Finland).

The findings from the EWCS 2005 is basically supported by data from the Survey of living conditions 2006, 30.5% of all employees in Norway report to work regulated flexitime, whereas fewer report that they do not have to meet at work at a certain time (8.2%).

Per 1 January 2006, according to the Working Environment Act, employees in Norway are entitled to flexible working hours provided that this can be accomplished without substantial

Inconvenience for the business / organization. Nevertheless, the largest proportion 59.5% of all employees report that they have to be at work at specified hours.

To what extent is it possible to ‘bank’ hours or days of work – for example to work extra hours for a number of days in order to take day(s) off?

Data from the EU LFS (2004) show that in Norway, among men and women aged 25-49, about 40% reported that they have some degree of flexibility regarding their working hours. Among male employees 32.1% reported working time banking compared to 26.8% among female employees. Within both groups most people reported that they could ‘take hours and full days off’, 30.2% among men and 24.3% among women, which is high compared to the average proportions in the EU countries (6.5% among both men and women) (Statistics in focus 96/2007). There is to our knowledge no other available data on this topic in Norway.

To what extent can workers determine their own work schedules - in other words, work when they like, so long as the work is delivered on time?

The proportion of employees in Norway who report that their working hours are fully determined by themselves was 5.6% in 2005 according to data from the EWCS 2005. This is lower than the EU average (6.5%), and substantially lower compared to both Sweden (13.7%) and Denmark (14.7%), both of which are the two leading countries regarding working time flexibility, and both of which are countries that in many respects may be seen as comparable to Norway.

From an employee perspective, can a distinction be drawn between ‘positive’ flexibility concerning working time (i.e. arrangements that suit them) and ‘negative’ flexibility (arrangements that suit their employers), or are most arrangements by mutual consent?

There is no available data to directly address whether or not it is possible to make a distinction between positive flexibility, negative flexibility, and arrangement by mutual consent seen from an employee perspective on a national level in Norway. However in a recent study it was concluded that the acceptance of part-time work is widespread in the health sector. Employees wanting to work part time taken together with the hospital departments need for part time employees as a consequence of the shift work in the health sector, seemed to contribute to the organization of a ‘part time culture’. Moreover, part time work was reported by many to contribute to greater flexibility, and less work-home conflicts. On the other hand, however, about 8% reported that they were not satisfied, because the average weekly working hours was lower than desired.

Is there evidence that people with higher ranking, better paid jobs are more likely to have greater flexibility regarding their working time arrangements than those with lower ranking/less well paid jobs?

There was no available data on the relationship between occupational status and flexibility regarding working time arrangements in Norway in the data from the EU LFS (2004). However, data on flexibility over working time arrangement was available from the Norwegian Survey of living conditions 2006 (Statistics Norway 2006). Occupations were categorized into 7 broad occupational groups based on the Eriksson and Goldthorpe Classifications scheme (EG-7), and was hierarchical arranged (Erikson and Goldthorpe, 1992).

Fig 5 Flexibility over working time arrangements more likely in managerial and high skilled occupations (n = 9808)

Figure 5 show that the total level of working time flexibility, defined as the proportion of respondents reporting the possibility to adapt working hours within certain limits or reporting to determine working hours entirely, are much higher in the two service categories (70% and 64% respectively) compared to all other categories. The lowest degree of reported working time flexibility was found among skilled (24%) and unskilled manual workers (20%) and, and among routine non-manual workers, lower grade (19%).

Are there major differences between non-manual workers and manual workers in terms of such flexibility?

The answer to this question depends on how on would define manual and non-manual workers. Fig 5 show that compared to all non-manual employees the proportion of manual workers who report flexible working time arrangements is relatively much lower (22% vs. an average of 49% in the remaining groups) However, compared to the group of workers in routine non-manual work with lower education there is no substantive difference (22% vs. 19% among routine non manual employees, lower grade). Hence, the differentiation between non-routine occupations with demands for higher educations vs. more routine occupations with lower demand for education seem more important than the differentiation between manual and non-manual per se.

Are there major differences between public sector and private sector workers in terms of such flexibility?

Fig 6 Proportion of workers who report flexible working hours by public and private sector

Fig 6 shows the proportion of people who report flexible working hours by public and private sector. The major difference is the relatively low level of overall working hours flexibility among employees working in the municipalities (25.3%), compared to both private sector and people employed by the state (average 44.6%). Employees within the government reported the highest proportion of overall flexibility regarding working schedules (49.1%), whereas the highest proportion of people reporting that working hours are entirely determined by themselves is found among people running their own private company (25.7%).

Are there any major gender differences – for example, are men and women seen to be subject to more or less ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ flexibility?

There were no available data sources on working hours to directly distinguish between flexible working hours defined by the employer or by the employee, respectively. However, some available indicators may shed some light on this issue.

Flexibility regarding working hours may be seen as a positive flexibility by the employees in that the possibility to bank hours or days may make it easier to balance the potential burden of work-family interference. Data from the EU LFS showed that there was a higher proportion of women reporting to work fixed or staggered hours (60.2% vs. 55.7% among men), and a corresponding higher proportion of men reporting that they have the possibilities to ‘bank of’ hours or days.

These observations concur with Data from the Survey of living conditions (2006).

Overall, there was a higher proportion among male employees reporting flexibility regarding working time compared to female employees (43.6% vs. 33.3%). The largest difference was between the proportions of men and women reporting that working hours are entirely determined by themselves (11.1% vs. 5.1). However, although there were a higher proportion of women who reported that they had to be at work at specified hours, there were a higher proportion of men who reported that they had to meet at work when called upon, which may be seen as a an indicator of negative flexibility from the point of view of the employees (2.1% vs. 1.2% among women).

Other working time issues

Multiple job holding

How widespread is the practice of multiple jobs holding in your country?

According to data from the 4th EWCS, the proportion of people holding multiple jobs in Norway was above 15%, which is the highest proportion among the 31 included European counties. On average 7% of the workers the EU countries reported having more than one job.

Based on the most recent data from Norway (LFS, 2 quarter 2006), the proportion of people reporting having more than one job was 7.3%. The corresponding number from 2 quarter 2005 (n = 14721) was 6.1%. Thus, the estimated proportion of people reporting to have more than one job, based on the EWCS data from 2005, is most likely to high. More recent data from Norway show that this proportion is close to 7%, which is similar to the proportion reporting multiple job holdings in the EU countries.

Are second or third jobs primarily seen as supplementary sources of income relative to a main job, or are all the different jobs seen as equally valid?

There is no available data to this question.

Commuting time

How much time does commuting typically add to the average ‘working day’ (in the sense of time spent away from home)?

In Norway, according to data from the EWCS, average commuting time for all employees was 32 minutes per day, which is relatively low compared to both the average level within the EU15 and the EU27 countries, 41 and 42 minutes, respectively. In general, however, across all countries, commuting time was considerably lower among part time workers. Data from the EU LFS show that the average employee in Norway works 33.4 hour per week and 5 days weeks, yielding an average working day of 6.68 hours. An average commuting time of 32 minutes per day increases the daily average working hours by 4.8 % for the average workers.

Is commuting commonplace for everybody, or does the time spent vary in any systematic way – such as according to the type of job, or whether people live in urban or rural areas?

No available data.

Is the development of teleworking (full-time or part-time) seen as a viable and attractive alternative to commuting?

In 2000 a report was given on the use of teleworking for government-employees. A group consisting of representative from the Ministry of labour and administration (now termed Ministry of labour and inclusion), and representative from the major trade unions had a mandate to address the challenges regarding teleworking among government employees. Hence, this report may be considered to present a fairly representative view on teleworking in Norway (Link in Norwegian).

Teleworking in a Norwegian context is generally seen as a supplement, and not as an alternative that may replace ordinary ways of organizing work. The general expressed point of view was that agreements on teleworking should be agreed to as a supplement to the ordinary contract of employment, and that both parts have the right to terminate the teleworking agreement without terminating the conditions of employment as such. Moreover, it was stressed that the employer should have a clear understanding of why teleworking is necessary. Legitimate reasons mentioned was steps to provide positive flexibility to employees, to increase job satisfaction, to expand the geographical recruitment area, and to keep in touch with employees who are on a leave etc. Furthermore, it was emphasized that companies should have a clear policy on when and where teleworking is a viable option. In particular, it was stressed that Home-office by many employees may be seen as a positive flexibility. Therefore, to ensure legitimacy, both approval and refusal of home-office should preferably be based on known criterions (see also NO0711039I).

Unpaid working hours (of those in work)

Is there much debate about the impact of time spent on unpaid work in the home, as well as time spent on paid work, on work-life balance, especially between men and women?

The debate about the impact of time spent on unpaid work at home has to a large extent focused on the negative implications of the fact that women take more responsibility at home and spend more time on unpaid work than do men. Data from the Time Use Survey (Statistics Norway 2000) showed that women and men reported an approximately equal share of workload when summing up hours of both paid and unpaid labour. The distribution of paid and unpaid labour was, however, unequally distributed among the genders. In contrast to men, family relations and obligations have greater impact on the choice between full time and part time work among women. Among women, having children below 16 years more than doubled the likelihood of having part time work. Part-time work among women is reported to have negative consequences for women’s career possibilities, income and pensions. Moreover, unequal sharing of household work increases the risk of economic dependence for women in particular, but also for the family household as a whole if the wage earner falls ill or get unemployed. Full employment, in the sense of getting people into paid work to the largest possible extent, is therefore seen as an important political goal in order to ensure economic independence for everybody, and for women in particular.

The debate on work-life balance has also received some increased attentions during the last year, particularly in the media, frequently described as ‘the time-squeeze’ (‘tidsklemma’ is the Norwegian term). Data from Statistics Norway shows, however, that the cumulative time used on work, unpaid (at home) or paid, has in fact decreased for both genders during the last decades (se also NO0701039I). Therefore, as a general phenomenon the so-called time-squeeze is not readily explained as a consequence time spent on paid or unpaid work. An alternative explanation has been that the work-family time-squeeze has less to do with the amount of work performed (unpaid or paid), and more to do with life-style and preferences. The main argument is that people in general have higher expectations on behalf of oneself and the family, resulting in both more active family and personal lives. If one accepts this premise, the work-life balance challenge may be more accurately described as a priority matter, which has little to do with working hours (paid or unpaid) per se. On the other hand, however, paid work may have a negative influence on work-family balance for some subgroups. Data from the latest survey of living showed that a higher proportion of men reported that their work interferes with their family life. However, when adjusting for working time (those reporting to work 45 hours or more per week), the gender difference was no longer significant. Thus, the higher proportion of men reporting work-home interference was fully explained by the higher proportion of men working 45 hours or more per week. Interestingly, there was a significant interaction between gender and working 45 hours, that is, among those reporting to work 45 hours or more there were a higher proportion of women reporting work-family conflict (rather often or very often) (43.2%. vs. 38.5% among men). In all 28.1% of men and 8% of women report to work 45 hours or more per week. Among those with small children (under16) 31.2% of men and 7.8% of women reported to work 45 hours or more per week. There was, however, no gender difference in reported home-family interference among person working less than 45 hours per week (12.3% among men vs.11.8% among women reported to experience work family conflict rather often or often).

Are there pressures for non-paid work to be more recognised, and for the work involved to be shared more evenly between partners?

During the last decades more equal sharing of paid and un-paid labour between men and women has been an important political goal in Norway. As part of the pension settlement, the National Assembly (Stortinget) decided to improve the minimum security of pension earning for unpaid care in the National Insurance Scheme. This may seen as a signal towards a greater recognition of non-pain work, although is has been questioned whether the settlement actually was an improvement as the definition of unpaid care for children was reduced from children under the year of 7 to children under 4 years. On the other hand, however, although it is generally recognized that unpaid labour should be valued in its own right, and that the amount of effort put down in caring and housework produces welfare for all family members, much of the debate have focused upon the negative consequences of unpaid labour, and the importance of getting more people, especially women into paid work. The goal has been two folded, to increase the amount of paid work among mothers, and for fathers to take a larger share of the housework. Since the proportion of mothers in the labour force has increased immensely during the last decades, the focus has shifted from increasing labour participation among mothers towards a greater emphasis on how to get fathers, particularly in families with small children, to take a more active part in house work and caring work. To reach this goal a number of reforms have been carried through that are meant to improve the balance between unpaid (family) work and paid work for both men and women, such as increased period of paid parental leave, a six weeks ‘father’s quote’, ‘time account’ (i.e. an arrangement which gives parents the possibility to combine reduced birth-salary with part time work), and available day-care centres for all children below school age.

Composite indicators of weekly working hours

Composite indicators of weekly working hours have been developed for full-time and part-time workers, both male and female, which include time spent in unpaid as well as paid work and time spent commuting. What do you see as the most significant implications of these indicators so far as your country is concerned?

Data from the EWCS (2005) show that in a European context, Norwegian employees report the second lowest level of average weekly paid working hours. The composite indicator of weekly working hours, however, yields a quite different picture with regard to evaluating the relative level of average weekly working hours in Norway. Compared to all other countries Norway report the second highest level of composite weekly working hours (including paid and unpaid work, and commuting time), and the highest level of average unpaid weekly working hours. Looking into unpaid working hours in greater detail, what characterizes Norway is the high level, particularly among men, of reported average hours spent on childcare and upbringing compared to all other countries in the EU. The average Norwegian man report to spend approximately 15 hours on childcare and upbringing per week, which is more than 50% higher than the average man in the Netherlands, who report the second highest level overall. When evaluating the ratio of average weekly hours spent on childcare among women to that of men, the ratio in Norway is second lowest in Europe, with Sweden reporting the lowest.

Tom Sterud, National Institute of Occupational Health

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Add new comment

Click to share this page to Facebook securely

Click to share this page to Twitter securely

Click to share this page to Google+ securely

Click to share this page to LinkedIn securely