This guide provides information about the provisions in the General Application Regulations and how the provisions will be enforced by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. The guide is primarily directed at transport enterprises and purchasers of transport services.
The Regulations on general application of collective agreements concerning freight transport by road entered into force on 1 July 2015. The regulations have been laid down on the basis of the 2014 Haulage Vehicle Agreement and the Agreement concerning Freight Transport of 2014.
The guide is based on:
The General Application Regulations provide the employees covered by the Regulations a right to generally-applicable pay and working conditions. For the employers who are covered, the Regulations entail an obligation to ensure that employees:
Wages shall be paid based on working hours, as this is defined in forskrift om kjøre- og hviletid for vegtransport i EØS ("Regulations concerning working hours for drivers and others in road transport" - Norwegian acronym: FATS – currently available only in Norwegian).
For employees who perform freight transport but are not covered by FATS, Chapter 10 of the Working Environment Act will apply. Remuneration for work is considered wages. Coverage of expenses falls outside the term wages. In other words, compensation for expenses such as travel, meals and accommodations shall not be considered a part of the minimum wage under the Regulations.
The Regulations apply for all employees who perform freight transport with vehicles over 3.5 tonnes total weight in Norway.
The Regulations do not apply for sole proprietors, apprentices and persons involved in labour market measures. Nor do they apply to transport of the enterprise's own goods, where the enterprise manufactures and transports the goods with its own employees.
For employees of enterprises established outside Norway, it is Section 1–7 of the Working Environment Act and the Regulations concerning posted employees that govern whether and in such event which Norwegian rules will apply.
When foreign enterprises have transport assignments in Norway, this will normally be in the form of international transport and/or cabotage or combined transport.
The General Application Regulations only apply to cabotage or combined transport, see Section 2, Subsection 1, letters a and b. International transport is not covered by the scope of the regulations.
The Regulations do not apply when an employer can substantiate that an employee on an overall basis has more favourable wages and working conditions under an agreement or according to the law of the country that otherwise applies for the employment relationship. The exemption provision is intended to catch instances where the driver receives other forms of remuneration for work effort, such as commissions or severance pay. It is required that the matter involves goods or services that are commonly regarded as a part of the pay and that are included in the calculation basis for holiday pay, taxes and social insurance benefits.
It is the pay and working conditions seen as a whole that must be in accordance with the regulations. The pay and working conditions may deviate from the regulations on one or more points, but seen as a whole they must be just as favourable or provide better conditions. For example, the hourly pay may be somewhat lower than the minimum rate in the regulations, but it is then assumed that an employee will receive other forms of remuneration tied to work performed.
The Labour Inspection Authority is entitled under Section 11 of the Act relating to general application of wage agreements etc. to demand necessary information from the enterprises. The driver has an obligation to have certain documents in the vehicle. The Labour Inspection Authority can also request other documentation which the driver is not obligated to have in the vehicle but which is advantageous to have in the vehicle for more efficient completion of the inspection for all parties.
Documentation showing a summary of the working hours in Norway, see Section 6 of forskrift om arbeidstid for sjåfører og andre innenfor vegtransport mv. ("Regulations concerning working hours for drivers and others in road transport etc." – Norwegian acronym FATS – currently available only in Norwegian) or Section 10-7 of the Working Environment Act. This is necessary in order for the Labour Inspection Authority to check whether the employees are receiving generally-applicable wages for the working hours in Norway.
The Labour Inspection Authority will conduct checks along roads in cooperation with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, among others. The drivers who are stopped will be asked to present documentation that the person in question is receiving wages according to generally-applicable rates and a daily allowance for the portion of the assignment being performed in Norway.
The Labour Inspection Authority follow-up will depend on what kind of documentation the driver can present during the inspection and what this documentation shows.
If the driver can document that he is being paid a generally-applicable wage and a daily allowance, the inspection will then be concluded with an inspection report to the driver's employer.
If the driver cannot present documentation that makes it possible for the Labour Inspection Authority to check the wages and/or daily allowance of the person in question, the Labour Inspection Authority may send a letter to the employer with a request that they send the necessary documentation.
If a violation of the regulations is revealed, the Labour Inspection Authority may follow up with an order to the enterprise. In instances where gross violations of the regulations are revealed, or where this is suspected, the Labour Inspection Authority may impose fines for violations or report the enterprise to the police. In the event of a report to the police, the enterprise may risk fines or imprisonment for up to one year, and up to three years in the event of particularly aggravating circumstances.
The Labour Inspection Authority exchanges information with supervisory agencies in other countries in cases where the driver has been posted. The Labour Inspection Authority can request information through international systems regarding enterprises it supervises, for example, who the owners are.
In the assessment of documentation for paid wages, the Labour Inspection Authority will assume at the outset a foreign currency exchange rate at the time of a check or inspection.
The Labour Inspection Authority will conduct inspections at purchasers and principal suppliers of transport services in order to check for compliance with the Regulations on the obligation to provide information, the obligation to ensure compliance, and the right of inspection. For government purchasers, the forskrift om lønns- og arbeidsvilkår i offentlige kontrakter ("Regulations concerning pay and working conditions in government contracts" – currently available only in Norwegian) also apply.
The information obligation means that the purchaser of the transport service communicates in its contract with the supplier that an employee must be paid in keeping with the General Application Regulations. Suppliers will have the same information obligation when they enter into agreements with subcontractors.
Forskrift om informasjons- og påseplikt og innsynsrett (The obligation to ensure compliance - summary in English) means that a purchaser, in those instances when a subcontractor is not used, and a principal supplier must have systems and procedures for investigating, and if necessary monitoring, compliance with the General Application Regulations at the supplier.
For example, the obligation to ensure compliance may be met by including contract clauses stating that the supplier's employees must at minimum have the pay and working conditions resulting from the General Application Regulations and that this is monitored by obtaining documentation of an employee's wages and daily allowance. A procedure or system must therefore be established in order to ensure that the obligation to ensure compliance is met. No special written procedure is required for the obligation to ensure compliance, as this can be included in other management documents or procedures.
However, the Labour Inspection Authority requires that a purchaser's system and procedure for ensuring that suppliers comply with the General Application Regulations are suited to discovering whether a supplier is violating the provisions in the Regulations. In instances where subcontractors are used, the Labour Inspection Authority will conduct inspections to verify that the principal suppliers are attending to their obligation to inform and ensure compliance.
It is important to note that the Regulations do not grant a purchaser a right to conduct checks at a supplier. Nor does it grant a right to contract penalties for violations of general application provisions. A purchaser and a principal supplier must therefore obtain such a right through a contract clause.
Purchasers are also jointly and severally liable for wages and holiday pay under the General Application Regulations, see Section 13 of the General Application Act (summary in English).
The obligation to inform and ensure compliance and the joint and several liability apply for the entire supplier chain if it consists of several links.
In the event of violations of the regulations, the Labour Inspection Authority may issue an order, impose fines for violations or report the enterprise to the police. The Labour Inspection Authority is also authorised in the General Application Act to report an enterprise for aiding and abetting.
Where Norwegian freight forwarders act as principal supplier, employee representatives are entitled to access to information regarding pay and working conditions at the enterprise's subcontractors. The right to access provides the employee representatives an opportunity to assist the enterprise in complying with the requirements in the General Application Regulations.
The freight forwarder shall document that the pay and working conditions are in accordance with the General Application Regulations when employee representatives request this in writing. The right to access applies down through the entire contract chain.
The request for access must be presented in writing. It must indicate the basis the employee representative has for the request and the enterprises and employer groups to which it applies. Access may only be demanded for employees who perform work covered by the scope of the Regulations.
Information regarding pay and working conditions shall be documented with copies of employment contracts, payslips and time sheets.
The access right provision means that the freight forwarder acting as principal supplier has an obligation to collect information regarding pay and working conditions from subcontractors and to forward this to employee representatives. In the same manner as for the obligation to ensure compliance, a principal should regulate by contract the obligation to furnish information, the method for collecting and furnishing, and any sanctions if the obligation is not met.
If employee representatives discover and notify the enterprise of violations, and the enterprise does not remedy the violations, the employee representatives may tip off the Labour Inspection Authority.