Labor law New Year's cavalcade!
The new year is well underway, and we are eagerly awaiting what it will bring on the labor law front. But what really happened in 2021 - apart from the corona - and what have we learned?
1 Spring news about secretive job seekers
After a winter marked by redundancies and compensation schemes, many employers received a reminder in March, when the Supreme Court ruled that a jobseeker was not obliged to state that he was dismissed from his previous employer.
According to the Supreme Court, applicants themselves cannot mislead the employer, but they do not have to inform about what is negative. Employers should therefore be more proactive in the application process to find out if there is anything negative about the applicants that they should know about.
2 Summer, sun, and decent working conditions
With summer at the doorstep, the temperature in the field of collective labor law rose, when the Supreme Court ruled on 2 June in the Grefsenhjemmet case. The ruling clarified a controversial issue of repercussions of collective agreements. Employers can now not assume that rights arising from a collective agreement (i.e., minimum wage and various supplements) cease to apply to employees even if the collective agreement terminates.
And not only that: on 3 June, the Labor Court ruled that even if seniority was to be understood as "continuous service time" in a main agreement, previous service time is also relevant in the assessment of objectivity related to deviating from seniority. This is important for employers to note if they have employees who have previous periods of employment in the company and who are covered by a round of temporary layoff or downsizing.
June was also marked by measures for decent working conditions when the Parliament (Stortinget) passed two important laws. First out was the law on combating work-related crime, which stipulates what is included in the term "wage theft" and stipulates that employers can be punished if they commit wage theft. The law also stipulates that top managers can be punished if the company does not have an occupational pension scheme that is in line with the law's minimum requirements and that salaries can no longer be paid in cash.
The next law out was the Transparency Act, which requires reporting on matters related to human rights and decent working conditions. With this, many companies have been given a new reporting obligation which they must incorporate into their systems and incorporate into the rest of the HR work before the Transparency Act enters into force in the summer of 2022.
3 The working life of the future and notification in the Discrimination Tribunal
While many of us were on our way into the summer holidays, the Fougner committee used the end of June to present the NOU The Norwegian model and the working life of the future. The committee made a proposal here to strengthen the rights of employees - not least for so-called platform workers - and to place greater responsibility and risk on employers.
From 1 July, the Discrimination Tribunal also gained expanded competence. Employees can now go to the Discrimination Tribunal with claims for compensation and redress if they have been treated negatively in connection with having reported matters worthy of criticism.
4 Autumn colors with red-green labor law
The big news of the autumn was, of course, the new, red-green government. In the Hurdal platform, it has set several goals, which not least apply to the field of working life. Some of the planned measures have already begun, among other things, in November the government sent out consultation proposals for collective right to bring an action.
This will give the unions the opportunity to take legal action on their own initiative if they believe the hiring rules have been infringed. The government has also submitted a bill to the Parliament to remove the much-discussed general right to hire temporarily for up to 12 months.
5 December: snooping and payroll deductions
In December, the Supreme Court made several important decisions in labor law. The most curious of us were perhaps most interested in the verdict in the medical record case, where the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that it is legal to dismiss health personnel who snoop in a patient medical record.
Shortly afterwards, the Supreme Court ruled that standard provisions on wage deductions do not normally give the employer the right to deduct employees' wages in order to correct previous erroneous payments. After this ruling, employers must make specific assessments of whether they are allowed to deduct the employee on the next wage payment if they earlier by mistake have been paying too much.
6 New year and new commitments
At the beginning of 2022, the rest of Europe has been focused on the new notification rules in EU law, which came into force on 17 December, while Norwegian employers may be more concerned about the activity and reporting obligation in the Gender Equality and Discrimination Act. The law obliges employers to map and manage risks of discrimination and obstacles for gender equality, and many companies will report on this for the first time for the financial year 2021.
So, what more will the labor law year 2022 bring? It is very likely that we will see more concrete measures as a result of red-green working life policy. It will be exciting to see which proposals in the Fougner report the government will follow up and how new rules and measures will be formulated. If we are really lucky, we will finally also get some home office rules in place that are adapted to working life post-corona.
One thing is for sure - a lot will have happened in labor law at this time next year!