This is how the Støre-government's budget proposal affects employers
On 8 November 2021, the Støre-government presented its budget proposal for 2022. The proposal includes changes and extensions of temporary measures that will affect Norwegian employers to varying degrees.
1 The employer period in the event of temporary lay-off is increased
The government has proposed increasing the employer period for temporary lay-off from ten to fifteen days. The change will lead to the employer period being back at the same level as before the covid-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, the length of the employer's period on temporary lay-off has been changed several times to meet the challenging situation that arose in the labour market when Norway closed down. In March 2020, the employer period was adjusted down to two days, before it in September 2020 was increased to ten days. The government has now proposed that the employer period be returned to the level it was before the pandemic from 1 March 2022, i.e., fifteen days.
The reason for increasing the employer period is that there is high activity in the Norwegian economy at the same time as registered unemployment is declining. In addition, there are several companies that have reported that they are struggling to recruit labour. The government reports that the outlook for the labour market for 2022 is good, which indicates that the need for temporary lay-off is declining.
2 Continuation of the right to care allowance and sickness benefit for covid-19 or suspicion of covid-19
In October 2021, the government extended the right of employees to sickness benefits in the event of absence due to covid-19, or suspicion of covid-19, until 31 December 2021. The same applied to the right to care benefits for parents who have children in quarantine, or who have children at home because kindergarten or school is completely or partially closed due to covid-19. In the government's budget proposal, the measures are proposed to be extended to 30 June 2022.
The government justifies the extension of the measures on the grounds that even though everyday life is mainly normalized, there will be a risk of dissemination of covid-19 for a long time to come. The government believes that the measures will be suitable for contributing to compliance with the infection control recommendations.
According to the government, the measure concerning sickness benefits will not lead to additional expenses for the National social insurance scheme because covid-19 related illness mainly degenerates over a period of less than seventeen days. In the event of sick leave, the employer period runs for the first sixteen days, which means that the measure can lead to increased expenses for employers.
3 Increased allocation to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority to combat work-related crime
The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has previously stated that, following the pandemic, there is a risk of an increase in rogue actors and work-related crime. In the government's budget proposal, it is clear that the work of combating work-related crime is still high on the agenda. The government proposes to increase the allocation to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority by NOK 20 million to strengthen the Authority's capacity for, among other things, guidance, supervision and control aimed at rough business practices and social dumping.
The increased allocation is one of several measures that have been implemented recently. Earlier this year, the Parliament (Stortinget) passed new penal provisions that will make it easier to fight work-related crime. The provisions, which enter into force on 1 January 2022, make it possible to punish employers who improperly or intentionally do not comply with the obligation to pay wages, holiday pay, surcharge for overtime etc. which the employee is entitled to by agreement, law or regulation (so-called wage theft). The penalty for serious cases of wage theft is six years' imprisonment.
You can read more about legislative changes to combat work-related crime here.