Norway to allow companies to send staff home until next year

Norway to allow companies to send staff home until next year
Hotels are among businesses hard-hit by the coronavirus slowdown. Photo: AFP
The Norwegian government said on Thursday that it would extend provisions allowing companies to send staff home from 26 to 52 weeks.

That means people who were sent home in March (for example) as a result of closures due to the coronaviruses lockdown can now remain so until March 2021 before the company is obliged to let them go.

The purpose of the extension, which comes into effect from November 1st until June 2021, is to prevent people from losing their jobs due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said in a statement.

Sectors hardest hit by the corona crisis include tourism, export, the maritime sector, aviation and construction.

The announcement was first reported by VG.

“We saw before the summer that we would have to assess the situation with the economy until autumn, including to review lay-off rules,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.

In a Norwegian context, ‘lay-off’ (permittering in Norwegian) means to temporarily, fully or partially release an employee from the obligation to work. Lay-offs under coronavirus rules are administered by Norway’s Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV.

 

“Now we have additionally received a letter from business representatives… asking for clarification and an extension of the lay-off rules to 52 weeks. That’s why we are making these changes now,” Solberg said.

Opposition parties as well as business interest organisations including the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions have called for the extension from 26 to 52 weeks of the provision, which was introduced in the spring in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Solberg also signalled an extra period for people sent home long-term. Companies would foot the bill for the extra period, she said.

“This must not become an obstacle to people getting back to work. We are concerned with ensuring employers actually assess whether they can keep on people who are sent home or whether their labour should be made available to others,” Solberg said to VG.

 

 

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