Minimum Working Conditions
Employers and employees are free to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. The Working Environment Act lays down the minimum requirements for the work environment, the workplace, working hours, employment contracts, employment protection, dismissal, redundancy and summary dismissal.
There are no statutory regulations concerning minimum wages. However, wage levels and minimum wages are generally laid down in collective bargaining agreements. For some specific sectors, the salaries laid down in the collective agreements also apply to employers in the sector without the collective agreement (e.g. construction, cleaning, shipbuilding and seafood production); such agreements are only generally applicable as to pay and working conditions; the objective is to prevent lower pay and working conditions for foreign workers, than that which is otherwise common in Norway.
Maximum Working Week
In general, the maximum normal working hours shall not exceed nine hours in twenty-four hours and forty hours in seven days. For certain groups, such as shift workers, the normal working hours shall be less. Upon agreement between the employer and the employee, the maximum normal working hours can be calculated as an average over a maximum of fifty-two weeks, but with a limit of ten ordinary hours of work per twenty-four hours, and forty-eight hours per seven days. Other arrangements can also be made through agreements between the employer and the employees’ elected representatives in undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement or by consent from the Labour Inspection Authority.
The Working Environment Act also gives employees the right to flexible working hours insofar as this does not cause considerable inconvenience to the employer. The above mentioned rules shall not apply to employees in leading positions or employees in particular independent positions.
From the age of 62 years, employees are entitled to reduced working time if the reduction in working hours can be completed without significant inconvenience to the business. Furthermore, the same applies if an employee claims reduced working time for health, social or other weighty welfare reasons.
The age limit for termination of employment because of age is 72 years. However, an employer may choose to have an in-house age limit of 70 years if the age limit is made known to the employees, is practiced consistently and the employee has a satisfactory occupational pension. The employer must discuss in-house age limits with the employee-representatives.
Overtime is only permitted when there is an exceptional and time-limited need for it. Overtime cannot exceed 10 hours in 7 days, 25 hours in 4 consecutive weeks, and 200 hours during a period of 52 weeks. Upon agreement between the employer and the employees’ elected representatives in undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement, or by consent from the Labour Inspection Authority, this limit may be extended. As a rule, the total working hours shall not exceed 13 hours in 24 hours and 48 hours in 7 days.
Upon agreement between the employer and the employees’ elected representatives in undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement, the limit of 24 hours may be extended to 16 hours in 24 hours. The limit of 7 days may be calculated as an average over a maximum of 8 weeks. For overtime work, the employee shall receive extra pay in addition to what he receives for corresponding work during ordinary working hours. The extra pay shall be at least 40 percent more than what the employee makes during a regular working hour. The above mentioned rules shall not apply to employees in leading positions or employees in particular independent positions.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The working environment in the undertaking shall be fully satisfactory when the factors in the working environment that may influence the employees’ physical and mental health and welfare are evaluated both separately and as a whole. The standard of safety, health and working environment shall be continuously developed and improved in accordance with developments in society. The law requires that, when planning and arranging the work in the workplace, emphasis shall be placed on preventing injuries and diseases. The organisation, arrangement and management of work, working hours, compensation systems, including use of performance-related pay, technology, etc., shall be arranged in such a way that the employees are not exposed to adverse physical or mental restrain, and that due regard is paid to safety considerations.
In order to safeguard the employees’ health, working environment and safety, the employer shall ensure that systematic health, environment and safety work is performed at all levels of the undertaking. This shall be carried out in cooperation with the employees and their elected representatives. In order for the employer to maintain a healthy and safe workplace, there are several requirements for both the physical working environment and the psychosocial working environment
With regard to the physical working environment factors, such as factors related to buildings and equipment, indoor climate, lighting, noise, radiation and the like, shall be fully satisfactory with regard to the employees’ health, environment, safety and welfare. The workplace shall, among others, be equipped and arranged in such a way as to avoid adverse physical strain on the employees.
When it comes to the psychosocial working environment, the work shall be arranged in a way that ensures the employees’ integrity and dignity. Then employer shall make efforts to arrange the work in a way that enables the employees to have contact and communication with other employees of the undertaking. The employer shall ensure that the employees are not subject to harassment or other improper conduct. Furthermore, the employer shall, as far as possible, protect the employees against violence, threats and undesirable strain as a result of contact with other persons.
The working environment in the undertaking shall be fully satisfactory and the standard of safety, health and working environment shall be continuously developed and improved in accordance with developments in society.
When planning and arranging the work, emphasis shall be placed on preventing injuries and diseases. The organisation, arrangement and management of work, working hours, pay systems, including use of performance-related pay, technology, etc., shall be arranged in such a way that the employees are not exposed to adverse physical or mental strain and that due regard is paid to safety considerations.
The employer must assess whether there are any special risks associated with working alone in the undertaking. Measures necessary for preventing and reducing any risk of working alone shall be implemented in order to meet the statutory requirements regarding a fully satisfactory working environment.
The employees and their elected representatives shall be kept continuously informed of systems used in planning and performing the work. They shall be given the training necessary to enable them to familiarise themselves with these systems, and they shall take part in designing them.
The design of each employee’s working situation shall pay regard to professional and personal development, the individual employee’s capacity for work, the opportunity for self-determination and employees shall as far as possible be given the opportunity for variation and for awareness of the relationships between individual assignments. Furthermore, adequate information and training shall be provided so that employees are able to perform the work when changes occur that affect his or her working situation.
Physical working environment factors such as factors relating to buildings and equipment, indoor climate, lighting, noise, radiation and the like shall be fully satisfactory with regard to the employees’ health, environment, safety and welfare.
The workplace shall be equipped and arranged in such a way as to avoid adverse physical strain on the employees. Necessary aids shall be available to the employees. Arrangements shall be made for variation in the work and to avoid heavy lifting and monotonous repetitive work. Machines and other work equipment shall be designed and provided with safety devices so that employees are protected against injuries.
When handling chemicals or biological substances, the working environment shall be arranged in a way that the employees are protected against accidents, injuries to health and excessive discomfort. Chemicals and biological substances shall be manufactured, packed, used and stored in such a way that employees are not subject to health hazards.
Chemicals and biological substances that may involve health hazards, shall not be used if they can be replaced by other substances or by another process that is less hazardous for the employees. Furthermore, the employer shall have the necessary routines and equipment to prevent or counteract injuries to health due to chemicals or biological substances and keep a record of hazardous chemicals and biological substances.
If an employee believes that the working environment is in violation of the requirements as prescribed by law, the employee has the right to notify censurable conditions at the undertaking. See also section VIII. part 6. on regarding whistleblowing.
Further, the employee may notify the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority on matters regarding the working environment in the workplace. The Labour Inspection Authority has, like other public authorities, a duty to keep the employee’s identity confidential. The Labour Inspection Authority supervises the employer’s obligation to ensure that the employees have the possibility to notify censurable conditions in the undertaking and may review the employer’s assessment on whether it is necessary to carry out such measures. In such cases, the Labour Inspection Authority may consider the allegations and follow up with inspection, orders or report the case to the police if deemed necessary.