Requirement for Foreign Employees to Work
Foreign employees from outside the EEA/EFTA area, including self-employed individuals, must hold a residence permit, which may be obtained at the Foreign Service Mission or the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, that entails the right to work in Norway. There are different types of permits depending on whether someone is a skilled worker, an unskilled worker (such as seasonal workers and seafarers aboard foreign ships), a specialist, a student, a researcher, etc. A residence permit may be obtained at the Foreign Service Mission or the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.
Does a Foreign Employer need to Establish or Work through a Local Entity to Hire an Employee?
When a foreign employer wants to hire an employee in Norway, there is no requirement to establish or work through a local legal entity in Norway. However, all foreign enterprises that will operate business activities in Norway are required to register with the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises (Foretaksregisteret). An enterprise is considered a foreign enterprise in Norwegian law if the company does not have its main office in Norway or on the Norwegian continent. Business operations are operations where the enterprise intends to profit from a certain scope and duration. If the business has a turnover of a minimum of NOK 50,000 (equal to approx. EUR 5155) within a 12 month period, and the activity is running for more than 90 days, the enterprise is considered to preform business activities, and thus have an obligation to register.
Also, the employer has to register with the Value Added Tax Register, the Welfare authorities’ (NAV) AA register, Statistics Norway and the Corporate Taxation Data Register. Depending on the type of business and whether the employer will establish a legal entity in Norway, the company may also have to register in other public registers in Norway.
To register a foreign enterprise in Norway, the enterprise needs to complete the form “Coordinated register notification” (Samordnet registermelding) and send the form in to the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises (Foretaksregisteret). The form can be downloaded online at: https://www.brreg.no/business/other-types-of-entities/norwegian-registered-foreign-business/form-and-guide-for-the-registration-of-an-nuf/
Limitations on Background Checks
Background checks may include verification of information given by the candidate, or more thorough investigations for mapping personal characteristics. It is common to check education, professional experience, business interests, credit, identity, address and references, as well as performing a media search. It is less common to check work permits, “CV-holes”, alcohol or drug issues, salary, medical history, and the reason for termination of the former employment. The employer usually has an extensive right to verify the information given by the candidate.
As a general rule, the employer has a right to hire whomever he wants, based on self-chosen criteria (limited by the principle of impartiality). The legislation does not directly regulate the employer’s right to perform a background check. However, the legislation provides restrictions in different rules and regulations regarding obtaining information on the appointment of employees. The same restrictions are also applicable to executing background checks.
According to the Working Environment Act Section 13-4, the employer must not, when advertising for new employees or in any other manner, request applicants to provide information concerning their views on political issues or whether they are members of trade unions. Nor may the employer obtain such information through background checks.
Furthermore, the employer may not gather information as referred to in section 30 of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act, with regards to family life, religious point of view, ethnicity, functional disability, and sexual orientation (unless such information is of fundamental importance for the performance of the work required in the position).
In spite of the prohibitions laid down above, information regarding ethnicity, religious point of view, functional disability and personal cohabitation arrangements, may be gathered if such information is of fundamental importance for the performance of the work required in the position.
The employer may gather information regarding the candidate’s personal cohabitation arrangements or religious views (this line of inquiry must be stated when advertising the vacancy), if the establishment has a main objective to promote specific religious or fundamental values, and the employee’s position will be of importance to accomplish such objective.
In addition to these limitations, the employer must comply with the relevant personal data regulations when carrying out background checks, in particular, the use of social media. The employer may have a legal basis to review publicly-available information about a candidate on social media, in order to be able to assess specific risks regarding the candidate for a particular function, but only if it is necessary for the job and the candidate is correctly informed (for example, in the text of the job advert).
Restrictions on Application/Interview Questions
In order to find the right candidate for the vacant position, the employer needs information about the applicants. Furthermore, the employer may need documentation to verify the information that the candidate offers. In order to protect the candidates as the weaker party in the hiring process, restrictions apply regarding the actual information the employer may ask for from the employee. The restrictions are found in different rules and regulations.
The employer cannot ask for certificate of good conduct. The only exception is if the law regulating that particular position or profession requires that the candidate has a certificate of good conduct. Furthermore, information about whether or not the candidate has a clean record is considered as sensitive personal data. The processing of such data is strictly regulated by law, and the Norwegian Data Protection Authority has stated that the employer cannot acquire such information.
The employer can only obtain a credit report of the candidate, if the vacant position is high-ranking and entails great economic responsibility. In addition, credit reports may only be obtained for candidates selected in the final rounds of the recruitment process.
The employer may only ask for information regarding the candidate’s health to the extent that the tasks involved with the position have special health requirements. For example, the employer may ask if the candidate can complete heavy lifts if this is a relevant task in the job, and the employer may ask if the candidate suffers from any illnesses that would be particularly incompatible with the position at hand. It is however prohibited to ask general questions about the risk for future health problems. The employer may not obtain this information from others either. Medical checkups of any kind can only be obtained when provided by statutes or regulations, for posts involving particularly high risks or when the employer finds it necessary in order to protect the employee’s life or health.
When the employer conducts an interview with the candidate, the employer cannot ask for information concerning sexual orientation, their views on political issues or whether they are members of trade unions.