international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Norway: Updated Rules for Home Office Work

Author: Håkon Andreassen

Amended home office regulations

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the number of employees working wholly or partially from home – even permanently – has increased. Additionally, major technological development has taken place since the former home office regulations was adopted in 2002. As a result, the government has adopted several amendments to the regulations aimed at adjusting it to modern working life, entering into force on 1 July 2022.

As a main rule, the Working Environment Act has applied even to work performed from home, unless comprised by the scope of the somewhat more flexible home office regulations. The scope of the regulations itself remains largely unchanged, as it only excludes brief or sporadic home work. However, the previous home office regulations made certain significant exemptions for working hours and its calculation. These exemptions are now removed, as the government pointed out home office workers’ need for the same legal protection as other workers. The updated regulations also underline that the employer’s responsibility to ensure even the psychosocial working environment, extends into the employee’s home.

Finally, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority is granted the mandate and authority to supervise compliance with the regulations.

Proposed bill: Further restrictions to hiring from temporary-work agencies

The current general rule is that the hiring from temporary-work agencies is permitted to essentially the same extent as temporary employment. In June 2022, the government proposed several amendments which will restrict hiring of workers from temporary-work agencies, most prominently removing the option to hire from staffing agencies when the assignment or task is of a temporary character. The proposed changes are intended to increase permanent employment between real employer and employee, at the expense of hiring from temporary-work agencies.

Potentially to be passed by the legislature in 2023.

Proposed bill: Collective right to institute legal proceedings for trade unions

Furthermore, the government has proposed to reintroduce trade unions’ right to collectively institute legal proceedings against an employer in the event of illegal hire from temporary-work agencies, irrespective of the (un)willingness of the employees directly affected or involved.

Potentially to be passed by the legislature in 2023.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

  • The amended home office regulation is issued to make it easier to handle employees working from home. For the majority of employers major changes are not necessary, but employers will need to start monitoring and calculate working hours according to the general rules and not based on obsolete exemptions. Further, employers must observe and facilitate for even the employee’s psychosocial working environment, and hence include this aspect in the regular and systematic health, environment and safety activities.
  • The proposed bill regarding hiring from staffing agencies may impact how employers organize the labour force and even how they obtain labour on more restricted basis. The trade unions’ right to collectively institute legal proceedings should enhance the involvement of the local unions even at an early stage and before such hiring is made.