Half of all employers ignore labour law: survey

Half of Norwegian employers are breaking legally binding rules agreed over time with trade unions when it comes to temporary unemployment, although some in an autumn survey said they “didn’t know the law”.

“One would think that employers would know the rules in this area, since they’re so preoccupied trying to change them,” said Hans-Erik Skjæggerud, manager of labour organization Parat which conducted the survey.

According to Norwegian law, shop stewards are to be notified of a company’s need for temps and interns, yet just over half say they don’t bother telling the union reps. Unlike much of the western world, where union-busting is an old practice and confrontation is the norm, Norwegian union’s have long enjoyed a legally prescribed presence in the company boardroom.

The survey of 1,200 employers, conducted in late October and early November 2011, showed private companies consult organized labour just 34 percent of the time. Among Norway’s explosive growth in government and taxpayer-owned entities, just 42 percent of union reps report being consulted on the need for extra personnel.

Skjæggerud said the development is a serious and worrying breach of Norway’s labour law.

“More temporary staff does not create jobs but insecurity,” he told The Local.

Newer Norwegian companies are coming under their first real scrutiny after dizzying growth through three decades of staggering oil wealth. The growth has witnessed a new elitism, with managers reportedly taking up to a year off with pay to study while lower ranks and temps are offered sleeping arrangement on site in order to cut travel time and enable multiple, successive shifts.

In some sectors, a trend referred to by unions as social dumping — employing foreign workers to compete locally with highly paid Norwegian workers — has brought long hours for some at far below the normal pay.

Last year, the 30,000-strong labour organization Parat launched a campaign to spotlight employers’ satellite monitoring of workers in the building industry. The practice — along with suggesting staff slept at work — was found to be a lawbreaker.

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Norway posts record number of vacant job listings

A record number of openings have been listed on the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s (NAV) job portal this year.

The job market in Norway is recovering from the pandemic quicker than expected according to Holte. Pictured is two employee's going over some paperwork
The job market in Norway is recovering from the pandemic quicker than expected according to Holte. Pictured is two employee's going over some paperwork. Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Job vacancies on NAV’s job portal, are at record numbers already this year, with two months of 2021 still to go. 

So far this year, around 433,000 jobs have been listed on the portal, surpassing the figure for pre-pandemic 2019. 

“Already now, at the end of September, we have even more vacancies through this year so far than we had throughout 2019,” Hans Christian Holte, director of Nav, told public broadcaster NRK

NAV estimates that by the end of the year, well over 500,000 vacancies will have been registered in 2021. 

Some industries stand out in particular when it comes to the demand for labour. Tourism and catering, daycare, sales and health sciences are all areas with significant demand for workers, according to NAV’s director.

Holte rejected the idea that Norwegians may be too picky about the types of jobs they are willing to take as a partial explanation for the vacancies. He instead said it was about people having the necessary skills. 

READ ALSO: Five essential things to know for anyone working in Norway

In addition, he also said that the job market had recovered from the pandemic much quicker than expected. 

“We see that unemployment, in general, is back to the level it was before the pandemic. We actually expected this to happen next year,” he said. 

One trend concerning Holte is the rise in long-term unemployment in Norway. According to the NAV director, the number of people who have been unemployed for between one-and-a-half to two years has more than doubled since last year. 

“This is perhaps the biggest concern I have right now – there are the many who have been out of work for a long time. Maybe there are special reasons for it, such as gaps in the CV, language challenges, or health-related things. Norwegian society must now be good and help them back into working life,” he explained.