Do you have part-time employees?

Do you have part-time employees?

On 17 January 2022, the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion sent out proposals for amendments to the Working Environment Act for consultation. The purpose is to strengthen employees' right to full-time employment. "What do the proposals mean to me as an employer?", you might think. We summarize the main points.

1 Legislate the main rule on full-time and the obligation to document the need for part-time

The goal of strengthening the right to full-time employment is part of both the Labor Party's "100-day plan" and the Hurdal platform for the Støre government. At the very end of the 100-day period, the 96th day of a new red-green government, came the announced bills on the right to full-time employment. You can find the entire consultation note here (Norwegian only).

1.1 What does the proposal entail - in short?

Today, we have no legal provision that full-time work is the main rule in Norwegian working life. Therefore, the government proposes a new provision that will apply to all businesses in all sectors. The proposed provision:

  • legislates a main rule on employment in a full-time position,
  • imposes an obligation on the employer to document a possible need for part-time employment, and
  • instructs the employer, among other things on the basis of the documentation, to discuss the question of the need for part-time employees with the employee representatives.

1.2 When can the employer still employ part-time?

The employer can employ part-time when there is a "need". According to the proposal, this must be considered concretely. The examples described in the proposal include:

  • When there is no need for more labor than a part-time position,
  • When it is not possible to fill the need for labor through a full-time position, for example:
    • because of sickness absence,
    • because of increased need for staffing on different days,
    • because of high activity at special times, and
    • in companies with rotation schemes and the like with work at different times of the day and night, and where it is challenging to make the work schedule work without the use of part-time.
  • Different situations where the employee's needs may justify part-time work. The examples of the consultation proposal include, among other things, health reasons for the employee and the fact that the employee himself/herself only wants a part-time position.

1.3 Duty to document and discuss

The government proposes that the employer must both discuss and document the need for part-time employment before a decision is made on employment in a part-time position.

According to the proposal, the discussions must take place separately for each individual part-time employment, however, so that certain cases can be "jointly collected". In companies with many and frequent recruitment processes, for example, separate discussions may be unnecessary and impractical.

The scope, content, structure, and implementation of the discussions shall be adapted to the conditions and needs of the individual business. This is because the individual business is closest to assessing the most appropriate organization of the discussions.

This new duty to discuss is applicable in addition to the general duty to discuss in the Working Environment Act § 14-1 a), which applies to the duty to, at least once a year, discuss the company's use of part-time employment with the employee representatives.  

1.4 Who enforces the rules?

It is proposed to give the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority competence to ensure that the documentation and discussion requirement is implemented.

2 Strengthen the preferential right for part-time employees

2.1 What does the proposal entail - in short?

Today, the Working Environment Act § 14-3 gives part-time employees a preferential right to an extended position rather than the employer making «new employment in the company».

The government proposes to extend this rule that the preferential right, in addition to "new employment", shall also apply to the hiring of employees. Moreover, it proposes that part-time employees should also have a preferential right to extra shifts and the like.

This means that a part-time employee is given priority for an extended position and for extra shifts and the like, rather than the employer hiring labor or using on-call substitutes for the work in question.

2.2 Requirements for the employee and the company

In order to claim preferential rights today, it is required that the employee is (i) «qualified» and that (ii) the exercise of preferential rights is not to the «significant disadvantage of the company», cf. the Working Environment Act § 14-3. These requirements will also apply to the proposed rules on preferential rights.

Today, the preferential right is limited to the "business", cf. the Working Environment Act § 14-3. The government is of the opinion that this delimitation should not apply to preferential rights to extra guards and the like, and that the delimitation can be made to a smaller area than the "business". It is therefore proposed that the employer may limit the scope to units with at least 50 employees within the business.

2.3 Should there be a duty to discuss the preferential right for extra shifts and the like?

No. According to the consultation proposal, the assessment is that this is not practical with preferential rights to extra shifts and the like.

3 … And what happens next?

The consultation deadline is 19 April 2022. Input from the consultation bodies will be published here (Norwegian only). Time will tell what is finally decided. We will keep you updated.

Homble Olsby advokatfirma as

Akersgata 28 
0158 Oslo 

Tel (+47) 23 89 75 70

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