The expansion of the European Union 1 May 2004 meant that citizens from ten new EU-countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia) got expanded rights to reside and take employment in Norway. As a precaution against social dumping, transitional rules apply for residents of all the new member states except Malta and Cypros.
What is social dumping?
It is considered social dumping when foreign employees working in Norway receive substantially lower wages and worse working conditions than Norwegian workers. In other word, the term is not limited to receiving lower wages for the same work.
It is also concidered social dumping if foreign employees are given substantially worse working conditions in general, i.e. more straining working hours, lack of safety training, lack of safety precautions during work etc. These issues are of great significance for the workers' health and safety, and may result in accidents.
Regulations regarding working conditions
There are no specific transitional rules in the Working Environment Act connected to the enlargement of the EU, and the Working Environment Act and connected regulations apply to all employment in Norway. However, there are some differences based on whether the worker has come to Norway seeking employment on his or her own accord, or has been posted to Norway by his or her employer.
The following examples show which rules apply to the various situations when foreign workers work in Norway:
A Norwegian company enters into agreement with a foreign company (e.g. subcontracting), and employees from the foreign company is posted to Norway to fulfill the agreement
The regulations concerning posted workers apply, which means that the regulations in the Working Environment Act concerning working hours, safety regulations etc. apply. Norway do not have any statutes governing minimum wages. So as a main rule, posted workers may be put to work at the wage level that is common in their home country - unless they are covered by a general wage agreement.
The foreign company retains the responsibilities of the employer for its posted workers. This includes responsibility for the worker's health and safety. The Norwegian company do however, have the responsibility for the coordination of the various companies' health and safety system as the main contractor as followed by the Working Environment Act and the Internal control regulations.
However, if the posted workers are not covered by any health and safety system of their employer's, they shall be included in the health and safety systems of the Norwegian company. This is a general rule, but is especially relevant for subcontracting within the construction industry.
More information about the rules for posted workers can be found in the column to the right.
A Norwegian company hires in temporary staff from a foreign recruitment agency
The regulations concerning posted workers apply (see above). However, the stand-in workers are concidered part of the hiring company staff and shall therefore be included in their health and safety system.
An employee of a foreign company is posted to a Norwegian company that is part of the same enterprise
The regulations concerning posted workers apply (see above).
A Norwegian private citizen buys services from a foreign company
The regulations concerning posted workers apply (see above).
A private citizen bying a service (e.g. construction or maintanance of a house) is not regarded as an employer as such, and has therefore none of the employer's responsibility. He or she will, however, have responsibilites as the owner of the building, and therefore is responsible for the assessment of dangers in relation to the work at hand. The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority does not have the legal authority to punish private citizens for breaching the Construction client regulations, but can give an order that the demands in this regulation must be followed.
Norwegian citizen or company buys services from a foreign citizen selling services through his or her one-man enterprise (without employees)
The self-employed are not included in the posted worker legislation, nor in the health and safety legislation of the Working Environment Act or the transitional rules of the Immigration Act, because the person is self-employed. In some branches - like farming and construction work - one-man enterprises may still be subject to regulations by the Working Environment Act. This is to ensure health, safety and environment in situations where many people work at the same site.
For more information on one-man enterprises, find the brochure about the self-employed in the building and construction industry here (to order or download).
The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority is working to make relevant information available in several languanges. This includes a standard contract of employment and information on the most relevant regulations of the Working Environment Act.
In addition, some regulations and other publications are available in English.
Information in the new EU-countries
Norway's embassies in Romania and Bulgaria have created Internet portals where they publish relevant information:
Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI)
Several Norwegian government agencies cooperate in making information available. The work is coordinated by the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI).
To read more, follow the link to the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI) in the column to the right.
The role of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority
The EU-enlargement has resulted in more workers coming to Norway from the new EU-members. It is part of the Labour Inspection Authority's regular tasks to supervise their working conditions in Norway. The Labour Inspection Authority supervises that wages and working conditions comply with the basis for granting the working permit, as well as complience with the regulations relating to general application of wage agreements.
In order to prevent social dumping, the Labour Inspection Authority supplies information to raise awareness about the relevant regulations and worker's rights. Certain trades have been chosen for special attention: construction (including building cabins), farming, resturants, cleaning and transport. These are the areas where we expect most workers from the new EU countries, and where the risk of social dumping therefore is greatest.
European Employment Services - EURES
Those wishing to apply for work within the EU/EEA, can take advantage of the EURES network. EURES is a collaboration between the EU/EEA-countries and Switzerland, and is meant to promote the freedom of movement for labour within this area. The network consists of 700 consultants in the EU/EEA countries, which can provide information on the job market, available positions and general information about the various countries.
See EURES' own webpage.
In Norway, EURES consultants can be found at most employment offices (NAV-offices) in the country.
NAV Service Centre EURES is located in Mo i Rana and cover the whole country.