Minimum wages are not regulated by law in Norway

In Norway, as elsewhere, much focus has been put on the question of minimum wages and costs of labour following the enlargement of the EEA in May last year. This is due to the fact that the costs of labour are considerably lower in most of the new Member States than in countries like Norway.

15/02/2006 :: Norway has no statutes on minimum wage, but has implemented the Posted Workers Directive (96/71/EC) through a  specific article in the Working Environment Act.

This article states that the “General Application Act” regulates wage conditions for foreign workers. In respect of this law a wage committee shall be established to handle cases on application of wage agreements. The wage committee has five members; one from the Norwegian Confederation for Business and Industry (NHO), one from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) while three are independent representatives. 

The Wage Committee may decide that a nationwide wage agreement shall apply in full or in part to all employees carrying out work of the kind specified in the agreement within a sector or part of a sector of business and industry. The condition is that the demand for such general application has been advanced by an employee or an employer organization which is party to the agreement. Only such organisations can claim a decision from the Wage Committee. In particular cases the Wage Committee may stipulate other wage and working conditions than those ensuing from the wage agreement.

General application of wage agreements is a rather time-consuming task. The demand must be documented, and the information thoroughly prepared, before it is finally processed in the committee. So far, Norway has made three agreements applicable that are geographically limited to seven onshore petroleum installations.  

The Norwegian Government will perform an evaluation of the ten-year old “General Application Act”. The Social Partners will be invited to take part in the evaluation of the work in the wage committee. The government wants to determine whether the law is working according to its objective, or if documentary proof or other factors are obstructing the use of the law. The conclusions from the evaluation will be discussed in the Social Dialogue Forum where the Minister for Labour and Social Affairs discuss all aspects related to labour life issues with the social partners. 

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is now preparing a new case for the Wage Committee. It demands that the negotiated minimum wage in the agreement for the construction sector, shall be applicable for both Norwegian and foreign employers at installations in five counties in the southeastern region of Norway.

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Photo: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs