Employment and Social Policies, Labour Law and Safety at Work

Last updated: 08.06.2009 // Through the EEA Agreement Norway is part of an integrated European labour market. The rules cover free movement of workers, mutual recognition of diplomas, social security, health and safety at work, labour law and equal treatment of women and men. The European Employment Strategy is not part of the EEA Agreement. However, the Norwegian Government intends to participate in the exchange of ideas and practices on employment policies.

The freedom of movement of workers entails the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the EEA States. As regards employment, remuneration and other working conditions, Article 68 of the EEA Agreement obliges the EEA States to introduce, in the field of labour law, the measures necessary to ensure the good functioning of the EEA Agreement. One of the main areas covered by EU labour law is working conditions. This includes provisions on working time, part-time, and fixed-term work, temporary workers, and the posting of workers. All of these directives are implemented in Norway. During the past few years, several new directives have been adopted, and existing directives have been amended within this area (inter alia parental leave, works councils and temporary agency work) . For further information, please contact the website of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.  

Health and Safety at Work
The parties to the EEA Agreement have agreed on the need to promote better working conditions and improved standards at work, particularly by encouraging improvements in health and safety aspects. Minimum requirements are, and will be, implemented gradually. However, such requirements shall not prevent any state from maintaining or introducing more stringent measures for the protection of working conditions as long as they are compatible with other provisions of the EEA Agreement. Directives with importance to Norway have recently been adopted in this area, e.g. on establishing minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from electromagnetic fields and waves. In March 2010, a new directive on preventing injuries from sharp objects among workers in the hospital and healthcare sector was adopted.

Norway participates in EU’s  tri-partite Advisory Committee on Health and Safety, in the European foundation on working and living and in the Bilbao Agency. Norway also participates in The Senior Labor Inspectors’ Committee (SLIC).

European Employment and Labour Market Strategy
Since 1998 the EU Member States have implemented national action plans in accordance with the Employment Guidelines, which were adopted on the basis of the Title on Employment in the Treaty of Amsterdam.

The European Commission has drawn up a draft Joint Employment Report, which examines how the respective Member States are progressing towards the objectives set at EU and national levels. The evaluation is based on statistics and indicators as well as on the information provided by the Member States themselves in their implementation reports. The conclusions of this examination are instrumental for identifying difficulties in the process of implementing new Employment Guidelines for the following year.

For further information, please contact the website of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The cooperation with EU in this field is the responsibility of The Norwegian Ministry of Labor.

Contact point at the Mission of Norway, Jacob Hanssen, jhan@mfa.no
 point at the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, Ragnhild Nordaas, ran@ad.dep.no

In the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Union has agreed on an employment rate target for women and men of 75 per cent for the 20-64 years age group by 2020: a very ambitious commitment to the sustainability of Europe’s social model and welfare systems. As the crisis has brought the employment rate down to 69 per cent, bridging the gap to the target will be no easy task. According to the Commission Communication “An Agenda for new skills and jobs:  A European contribution towards full employment” (November 2010) these challenges these challenges can be met only with resolute action focusing on four key priorities:

1.      better functioning labour markets;
2.      a more skilled workforce;
3.     better job quality and working conditions;  
4.     stronger policies to promote job creation and demand for labour

As Norway is associated with EU through the European Economic Area (EEA), the enlargement also has implications for Norway. The Norwegian labour marked is since the enlargement opened up for the new EU Member States, though working-permits are required for workers from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. Despite these restrictions, the workers from the new member states are given considerably wider access to the Norwegian labour market than before. There are no limitations regarding particular skills or competence, but the monitoring of the labour marked is strengthened to avoid social dumping and the exploitation of foreign workers. Another requirement is full-time work. The cooperation with the EU in this field is the responsibility of the Norwegian Ministry for Labour.

Contact point at the Mission of Norway:  Jacob Hanssen, jhan@mfa.no
Contact point at the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: marit.hult@aid.dep.no

Equal Opportunities
Experience at Community level has shown that promoting gender equality in practice calls for a combination of measures and, in particular, of legislation and practical action designed to reinforce each other. After the Beijing Conference in 1995 the Council asked for an annual report on the follow-up of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Development of EU indicators and benchmarks for monitoring the implementation of the 12 areas of the Beijing Platform are given priority. The Council has decided to continue developing indicators and benchmarking during future presidencies. As a follow up, the Council has adopted conclusions on quantitative indicators aimed at measuring the representation of women and men in economic decision-making centres, but also on sexual harassment at the workplace.

The European Council has adopted a directive on equality between women and men in goods and services, and has also endorsed a general approach on a draft directive on the implementation of equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast version). The recast directive aims to merge seven existing directives on equal treatment in the field of employment into one single coherent instrument. Both will be EEA relevant. 

Norway participates in the current, and fifth action programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality, and also in the Daphne Programme.

In January 2003 the EFTA Court in the case E-01/02 declared that Norway had failed to fulfil its obligations under articles 7 and 70 of the EEA Agreement and articles 2(1), 2(4) and 3(1) of the directive 76/207/EEC on equal treatment for men and women by permitting the reservation of a number of academic posts exclusively for women.

The cooperation with EU in this field is the responsibility of the Norwegian Ministry for Children and Family Affairs

Contact point at the Mission of Norway: Petter Sørlien, kaare.petter.sorlien@mfa.no 
Contact point at the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Family Affairs: jorun.hjerto@bld.dep.no





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