Norwegian workers staying home longer

Norway to allow companies to send staff home until next year

Foto: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix
Hotels are among the businesses hardest hit by the coronavirus slowdown in Norway.

THE LOCAL

The Norwegian government said on Aug. 13 that it would extend provisions allowing companies to send staff home from 26 to 52 weeks.

That means, for example, that people who were sent home in March as a result of closures due to the coronavirus lockdown can now remain so until March 2021 before the company is obliged to let them go.

The purpose of the extension, which comes into effect from November 1 until June 2021, is to prevent people from losing their jobs due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said in a statement.

Sectors hardest hit by the corona crisis include tourism, export, the maritime sector, aviation, and construction.

The announcement was first reported by the newspaper VG.

“We saw before the summer that we would have to assess the situation with the economy until autumn, including the review of layoff rules,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.

In a Norwegian context, “layoff” (permittering in Norwegian) means to temporarily, fully, or partially release an employee from the obligation to work. Layoffs under coronavirus rules are administered by Norway’s Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV).

“Now we have additionally received a letter from business representatives… asking for clarification and an extension of the layoff rules to 52 weeks. That’s why we are making these changes now,” Solberg said.

Opposition parties as well as business interest organizations including the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions have called for the extension from 26 to 52 weeks of the provision, which was introduced in the spring in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Solberg also signaled an extra period for people sent home longterm. Companies would foot the bill for the extra period, she said.

“This must not become an obstacle to people getting back to work. We are concerned with ensuring employers actually assess whether they can keep on people who are sent home or whether their labor should be made available to others,” Solberg said to VG.

This article was originally published on The Local.

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