Engagement of employees

The main rule is that employees shall be engaged permanently. A written contract of employment shall always be entered into regardless of the period of employment and the scope of the post.

Any trial period must be agreed on in writing, and must not exceed six months. The employer must inform employees of vacant posts in the undertaking.

Specific advise to employees

  • Demand a contract of employment.
  • If the employer wishes to employ you on a temporary basis, request an explanation if this is not clear.

Private undertakings are in principle free to engage whoever they wish, but discrimination of individual groups is prohibited. The employer’s managerial prerogative may also be limited by statutory preferential rights. In public undertakings, engagement of employees is also regulated by other legislation and collective agreements (e.g. the Civil Service Act, the Public Administration Act and the Basic Agreement for the Civil Service).

Temporary engagement of employees

If a person is to be employed temporarily, one or more of the following conditions must be present:

  • When the work is of a temporary nature. Examples are seasonal work and project work. The ordinary day-to-day tasks of the undertaking are not to be performed by temporary employees.
  • Work as a trainee. This is employment designed to provide training or qualifications in a field, and must involve a training situation beyond that which is normal for performance of the duties of the post.
  • Work as a temporary replacement for another person or persons. This must involve a genuine replacement situation, e.g. replacement of a person on sick leave or in connection with other leave or holiday.
  • Participants in labour market schemes under the auspices of or in cooperation with the Labour and Welfare Service.
  • Certain posts in sports - athletes, trainers, referees and other leaders within organised sports.
  • Work in the areas of art, research or sport subject to a collective agreement between a national union and the employer.

In addition it is possible to employ people temporarily on a general basis. This means that the worker is temporarily employed without the employer having to justify the need, as in the above instances.

This kind of temporary engagement may not exceed 12 months. After 12 months, the employment contract may be terminated or the employee may be employed permanently or in one of the temporary engagements described above. If the employee is not offered a new position, the employer can not hire a new person temporary on a general basis to perform the same type of work.

Temporary engagements on a general basis shall not exceed 15 percent of the total number
of employees in the undertaking, but it is allowed to enter such an engagement with at least one worker. 

The employment shall be terminated automatically on the agreed final date or on completion of the agreed work.

If the duration of the temporary engagement exceeds one year, the employee is as a general rule entitled to one month’ written notice of termination of employment.

A person who has been temporarily employed for a consecutive period of more than four years in the same undertaking is entitled to as a permanent position.

Temporary employees hired on a general basis, or as a temporary replacement for another person are entitled to a permanent position after three years of consecutive temporary employment. The same applies when a worker has been temporary employed on various grounds, but at least once during these three years has been temporary employed on a general basis or as a temporary replacement for another person.

Specific advise to employers

  • In the case of temporary employment, check whether the conditions for this are met.
  • Before engaging new employees, check whether there are employees or former employees of the undertaking who have preferential rights.
  • Check whether the undertaking is subject to a collective agreement or the Basic Agreement for the Civil Service. Engagement of employees is often regulated here.

Prohibition against discrimination

In connection with engagement of employees, the Working Environment Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender (regulated by the Gender Equality Act), religion, ethical and cultural orientation, colour, national or ethnic origin (regulated by the Anti-discrimination Act), political views, membership of a trade union, sexual orientation, disability or age.

The employer may not obtain information concerning the applicants’ political, religious or cultural views or membership of trade unions.

However, this prohibition shall not apply if obtaining such information is justified by the nature of the post or if the objective of the activity of the employer in question includes promotion of specific political, religious or cultural views and the post is essential for the fulfilment of the objective. This applies correspondingly to information concerning sexual orientation. In cases where such information will be required, this must be stated when advertising the vacancy.

In connection with engagement of employees for posts associated with religious communities, exceptions are provided from the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of homosexual cohabitation subject to statement in the advertisement of the post of special requirements concerning the nature of the post or the purpose of the undertaking.

Preferential rights

Employees who are dismissed owing to staff reduction shall have preferential rights in connection with engagement of employees.

Such preferential rights apply only if the employee is qualified for the post and if the employee has been employed by the undertaking for a total of at least 12 months during the previous two years.

Such preferential rights shall apply for one year from expiry of the notice period. Such preferential rights shall not apply to employees engaged as temporary replacements.

Part-time employees also have preferential rights to an extended post rather than that the employer shall create a new appointment in the undertaking. Such preferential rights apply only if the employee is qualified for the post and exercise of the preferential right does not involving significant inconvenience for the undertaking.

Disputes concerning preferential rights for part-time employees may be brought before the Dispute Resolution Board.

The role of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority may only provide advice and guidance on legal provisions when it comes to engagement of employees. In the event of disputes, you may seek legal assistance, if appropriate, from the trade union to which you belong.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority may nevertheless order the employer to draft a written contract of employment and supervise that the use of temporary employees does not exceed 15 perscent of the total workforce in an undertaking. The use of temporary employees are to be discussed with the workers representatives.