New rules in an attempt to protect hired labourers have been introduced by the Norwegian government.
The problem was that since EU enlargement, the temporary agency industry in Norway had grown at a significant rate. Norway had seen an influx of agency workers from, in particular, Eastern European Member States particularly in the building and manufacturing sectors.
Consequently, there was concern amongst the trade unions and other social partners that there was increased exploitation of hired labourers. Now, the Labour Inspection Authority and trade unions have been given an increase in their powers to ensure that employers comply with what UK employers will know as the Temporary Agency Workers Directive.
The situation has also been changed to make it clear that where a company has a need for long term employees, employees can demand that the relationship is made permanent and/or claim compensation.
Furthermore, a new right to petition has been awarded to all trade unions within the hiring company. The reason for this is that there is often a lack of union representation in temporary work agencies. Often though, there will be trade unions present in the hiring company who will now be able to seek to raise issues within the employer to ensure that the rights of temporary workers can now be protected.
Concurrently, greater powers have been given to the Labour Inspection Authority. It can deal with situations where the use of hired labour is not actually as a result of a temporary need but on agreement with trade union representatives in the hiring companies. The Labour Inspection Authority may ask to see written evidence that an agreement has been entered into and that conditions for making an agreement have been met. The objective is to ensure that awareness is raised in companies of the rules that govern the hiring of temporary workers. The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise has taken a very critical stance in relation to the increased powers.
It is clear that the issue of temporary workers is one which is vexing a number of European Member States in an attempt to encourage flexibility within their more mobile work forces whilst ensuring there is adequate protection for those who may be in the temporary work arena.
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