Norway: latest working life developments Q2 2018

A settlement on pensions, amendments to the Working Environment Act, plans for a survey of foreign tour bus companies and a new report on working environments and occupational health are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Norway in the second quarter of 2018.

Main bargaining round results in new public sector pension scheme

The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) and The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) conducted the biennial renegotiation of nationwide collective agreements, agreeing pension and wages for the private sector. Pension schemes were a topic in public sector bargaining as well, as parties in the state sector and municipalities managed to settle on a new occupational pension scheme adapted to the new national scheme. Disagreement on the level of wage bargaining (central or local) and a new pay system made mediation necessary in the public sector.

Amendments to the Working Environment Act

In June 2018, the Norwegian parliament passed a bill amending the Working Environment Act, which will come into force in January 2019. In its proposal, the government recognised that a clearer definition of permanent employment was needed, due to the emergence of various forms of employment contracts without certainty of work and income, used in the hiring industry. It also recognised the need to allow employers and unions to enter into local, time-limited agreements on the use of temporary agency workers in construction. In the modified legislation, permanent employment is defined as an ongoing employment without time limit. The statutory rules on termination of employment apply, and employer and employee must agree on a concrete scope of work that commits the employer and ensures predictability of work for the employee. In addition, only shop stewards in companies bound by collective agreements signed by larger nationwide unions will have the right to sign agreements on extensive hiring (Lovvedtak 69 (2017-2018)). This limitation was made applicable not only in the construction industry, as proposed by the government, but in all other industries.

The temporary work agencies’ employer organisation, Norwegian Federation of Service Industries and Retail Trade (NHO Service og Handel) agreed that it was necessary to limit the use of agency work in the construction industry, but argued that the new regulation would make it difficult for enterprises in other industries to find workers for shorter periods of time. 1

Transport employers’ organisation plans survey of foreign tour buses

Currently there are no official data on the volume of passenger transport by coach which is provided as cabotage (the transport of passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country). The employer organisation NHO Transport fears the lack of data will make it difficult to create more equal competitive conditions between Norwegian and foreign actors. NHO Transport wants to collect information about passenger transport by sending a questionnaire to foreign companies engaged in such transport in Norway. In addition, the organisation will encourage travellers to report the nationality and location of foreign coaches through a mobile phone app or website. If this approach succeeds, it will give an indication of the number of foreign tour buses in Norway and, by registering the buses’ location, show more precisely how they operate in the Norwegian market. 2

New report gives insight into working conditions and occupational health

A new report from the National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway provides an overview of the current situation and latest developments regarding work environments and occupational health.3 Most Norwegian employees consider their own work environment and health to be good and, when compared with the rest of Europe, Norwegian workers express a very high level of satisfaction with the conditions at their workplace. Nevertheless, there are still some industries and occupations in Norway where challenges remain. The growth of the service sector has increased the number of jobs in occupations involving customers, users and patient relations: this creates challenges in terms of emotional demands, conflicting duties and, in certain occupations, violence and threats. Despite the number of industrial jobs falling by almost a third since the 1970s, workers in many occupations are still exposed to traditional hazards of a physical, chemical or mechanical nature. The biggest health issues for Norwegian workers – both in terms of prevalence and cost measured in poorer health, sickness absence and disability – are musculoskeletal disorders and minor mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders was roughly the same in 2016 as twenty years ago. The prevalence of mental health disorders has risen slightly since 2009, but is at the same level as in 2003. In recent years, mental health disorders have become an increasingly frequent cause of both sickness absence and disability benefit claims.

 

1 FriFagbevegelse (2018), Bemanningsbransjen reagerer skarpt pa stortingsflertallet vil skjerpe innleie [Temporary agency industry reacts strongly to the fact that the parliamentary majority will put restrictions on the hiring of labour], 25 May

2 NHO Transport, Hjelp oss a kartlegge turbussbransjen [ Help us to map the tour bus industry], accessed on 20 June 2018.

3 STAMI (2018), Faktabok om arbeidsmiljø og helse 2018: Status og utviklingstrekk, Year 19, No. 3, Oslo.

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