Workers' accommodation

When an employer provides living quarters for its workers, certain requirements apply to the accommodation. Additional requirements apply if the living quarters are to be used by workers in quarantine or isolation.

What requirements apply?

The employer must also comply with all basic infection control requirements.

Infection control measures for accommodation during the corona pandemic

The employer must assess the risk of infection in the living quarters, and implement relevant infection control measures:

The employer must have procedures and measures for ensuring:

  • that employees can maintain basic infection control measures (keeping a safe distance, washing hands, practising coughing hygiene, using disposable tissues, etc.)
  • frequent airing of common areas
  • cleaning of contact surfaces in the living quarters, particularly in the common areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and living room

In the event of a major outbreak of infection in the workplace, the employer must consider additional infection control measures in collaboration with local health authorities.

The employer must have procedures or measures for employees who have developed symptoms of infectious diseases. The routines of the company should state what sick employees should do.

People who develop symptoms should avoid contact with others and should be followed up by the health service as soon as possible. The health service will provilde advice on necessary infection control measures. Employees must not go to work, must stay isolated in the accommodationd and must not use the common areas.

Covid-19

In addition to the advice for general infectious diseases, employers must have routines and measures that aply specifically to covid-19. The routines of the company should state what employers with covid-19 should do. 

People with symptoms must avoid contact with others. 

Read more about symptoms of coronavirus infection (helsenorge.no).

Employees must receive training in infection control measures in a language they understand. The measures should be included in the house rules.

Requirements for accommodation for workers in quarantine or isolation

Employees in entry quarantine or isolation must have
  • their own room with TV and internet
  • their own bathroom
  • their own kitchen or food delivery
  • the opportunity to avoid close contact with others

If there is no TV in the living quarters, a PC or tablet with the same function and services can be made available instead of a TV.

The employer must also comply with:

The employer must have procedures or measures for employees in quarantine after arrival. If employees who are in quarantine after arrival develop symptoms of Covid-19, they must be tested.

Read more about quarantine after arrival (helsenorge.no).

Employees from the same household are people who live together in their home country, usually spouses or partners. If they travel to Norway together, they can stay in quarantine together after arrival. They do not need to stay in separate rooms.

The employer must be able to document that they live together in their home country.

Who must apply for approval of the accommodation?

The employer or client must provide a suitable place of residence that is approved by the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority (only in Norwegian), if you come from a country outside the EEA and are going to work

  • in companies that produce potatoes, vegetables, fruit and berries, or
  • with work that is strictly necessary to maintain activity in Norwegian companies

If the foreign workers or contractors are going to work in companies that produce potatoes, vegetables, fruit and berries, the employer or client must have applied to the Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture and been granted an exemption from entry restrictions (only in Norwegian, landbruksdirektoratet.no).

If the foreign workers or contractors are going to work with work that is strictly necessary to maintain activity in Norwegian companies, the employer or client must have applied to the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and been granted an exemption from entry restrictions (only in Norwegian, sdir.no).

Requirements for ordinary accommodation

Workers who are not in entry quarantine or isolation can stay in ordinary accommodation.

The accommodation must always be satisfactorily constructed, fitted out and maintained. The ordinary accommodation must have:

  • a bedroom with a window that can be opened
  • a living room with chairs, a sofa and, as a general rule, a TV or internet. If the bedroom is large, the leisure area requirement may be met by the bedroom alone. If the bedroom is small, a separate living room is required pursuant to the regulations.
  • a wardrobe or cupboard for storing clothes
  • access to a bathroom and toilet. For each 4–5 workers, there must be one lockable toilet and one lockable shower room
  • a utility room with a washing machine and clothes-drying facilities
  • a dining room with cooking facilities, dining area, dining table and chairs
  • access to required cleaning equipment

When deciding whether the living quarters are satisfactory, employers must consider the need to keep the accommodation clean and tidy, and the opportunity for privacy and dignity given the number of workers.

The regulations emphasise the following factors:

  • the size, fittings and furniture
  • fire safety
  • satisfactory ventilation
  • that the accommodation is designed for the number of people who live there
  • that the accommodation is not affected by wet or dry rot, damp or the like
  • that the standard of the accommodation is consistent with technological and social developments

Single room for long-term stays

As a general rule, workers must be accommodated in single rooms. This particularly applies to long-term stays.

Bedrooms must be located so the workers are disturbed as little as possible. The room should not function as access to other rooms. Ensuring adequate opportunity for rest is important for recovering after work. This has a direct bearing on workers’ health and safety at the workplace.

The regard for privacy is also important. Rest and privacy are difficult to achieve if there is no place to withdraw. There is not normally sufficient privacy if a worker only has the room to himself for parts of the day/night.

Double room for short stays

Double rooms can be used for short stays. Such rooms must be sufficiently large and have an adjacent living room.

Dormitories for seasonal workers in the agricultural sector

The requirement for a single or double bedroom does not apply to seasonal workers in the agricultural sector. In such a case, up to four workers can be accommodated in the same bedroom. The bedroom must be sufficiently large for the number of people who will sleep there and have an adjacent living room. The duration of such accommodation is maximum 10 weeks.

Electrical installations, fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment must comply with current legislation. The electrical installation must be dimensioned for the number of workers and the use of electronic equipment.

There must be escape routes and emergency exits. When windows cannot be used as escape routes, leisure rooms and bedrooms must have two alternative escape routes.

When several workers share accommodation, the employer and accommodated workers must draw up the house rules together.

The house rules should include information about:

  • distribution of tasks
  • cleanliness, infection control and tidiness
  • laundry times
  • cooking
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • quiet hours
  • right to have guests

The above list is not exhaustive and must be adapted to the needs in the individual living quarters. Following a specific assessment, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority may order that house rules be drawn up.

When an employer owns or rents accommodation and makes this available, or provides or arranges living quarters, such living quarters must meet the requirements. The requirements apply regardless of whether it is the employer or the worker who pays for the living quarters.

The rules do not apply if an employer only mediates contact with one or more landlords. If an employer assists the worker in obtaining accommodation and the tenancy agreement is between the landlord and the worker, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority must assess whether the living quarters can be considered to have been made available by the employer. To be responsible for the accommodation, the employer must have a certain connection to the living quarters or to the landlord.

Employers who provide suitable single-room accommodation for the quarantine period pursuant to the Covid-19 regulations, are also responsible for ensuring that the accommodation is appropriate.

The right of the Labour Inspection Authority to inspect living quarters

The Labour Inspection Authority shall have free access at all times to any premises subject to the Act. This includes living quarters when provided by the employer.

If the employer is bound by a collective agreement, there may be further requirements regarding the living quarters beyond the requirements of the Act. The Labour Inspection Authority does not carry out supervision pursuant to collective agreements.

The Labour Inspection Authority supervises compliance with the requirements regarding living quarters and ensures that the living quarters are satisfactorily constructed, fitted out and maintained. In such supervision, the Labour Inspection Authority often cooperates with agencies such as the Fire Service and other municipal authorities.

Legislation concerning living quarters

Section 4-4 (4) of the Working Environment Act

Chapter 3 of the Workplace Regulations

Section 14-15 (2) (c) of the Working Environment Act