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New rules for remote working in the making

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Legal news
calendar 16 May 2021
globus Norway

In light of the coronavirus and the increased use of remote working, the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has proposed to change the rules for the home office. In this newsletter, we take a closer look on the changes to the rules. The proposed control authority to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority will be the change that impacts companies the most.

The current rules on working from home entered into force in 2002 and has not changed significantly since then. Due to the increased use of remote working during the coronavirus, the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has now submitted a proposal to change the current rules. The changes include: 

  • More clarity as to when employees work from home. The current rules do not include short-term or “random” work from home. With the new proposal, the ministry aims to change "random" to "sporadic", meaning work that happens from time to time. 

  • No requirement to conclude individual written agreements. The requirement for a written agreement between the parties will remain, but it is proposed to include an exemption when working from home is imposed or recommended by the Norwegian authorities. When the exemption is used, companies must still inform the employees in writing. This information must contain the same points as in a written agreement, but the companies will not have to enter into individual agreements with the employees. The company is also required to discuss the written information with the employee representative(s) before the information is released to the employees.

  • Focus on the psychosocial working environment. Although the current rules does cover the psychosocial working environment, it only lists examples related to the physical working environment. The ministry proposes to include protection of the psychosocial work environment as an example, but this does not mean any actual change of the company’s responsibility. 

  • The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (LIA) becomes the supervisory authority. Currently, LIA cannot control or issue orders when companies fail to comply with the current rules. However, since the rules came into force, the LIA has developed new methods for control. The ministry therefore proposes that LIA will have the authority to inspect the home office, without visiting the employee's home. 

 

IUNO’s opinion

In some areas, the ministry's proposal provides a better understanding of how the rules is to be understood. A great change will be that the LIA has the authority to control the home offices, which will lead to an increased need of documentation for companies. However, the proposed changes do not entail any decisive clarifications on important and practical issues for companies, such as who needs to pay for the equipment for the home office.

IUNO recommends that companies are aware of the duty to maintain a safe working environment in the home office, including the equipment. Although it is not currently, nor in the proposed change, an explicit requirement that the company covers equipment costs, the issue will be closely linked to both the physical and psychosocial work environment.

[Proposal to change the Regulation for Work Performed in the Employee’s Home of 22 April 2021]

The current rules on working from home entered into force in 2002 and has not changed significantly since then. Due to the increased use of remote working during the coronavirus, the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has now submitted a proposal to change the current rules. The changes include: 

  • More clarity as to when employees work from home. The current rules do not include short-term or “random” work from home. With the new proposal, the ministry aims to change "random" to "sporadic", meaning work that happens from time to time. 

  • No requirement to conclude individual written agreements. The requirement for a written agreement between the parties will remain, but it is proposed to include an exemption when working from home is imposed or recommended by the Norwegian authorities. When the exemption is used, companies must still inform the employees in writing. This information must contain the same points as in a written agreement, but the companies will not have to enter into individual agreements with the employees. The company is also required to discuss the written information with the employee representative(s) before the information is released to the employees.

  • Focus on the psychosocial working environment. Although the current rules does cover the psychosocial working environment, it only lists examples related to the physical working environment. The ministry proposes to include protection of the psychosocial work environment as an example, but this does not mean any actual change of the company’s responsibility. 

  • The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (LIA) becomes the supervisory authority. Currently, LIA cannot control or issue orders when companies fail to comply with the current rules. However, since the rules came into force, the LIA has developed new methods for control. The ministry therefore proposes that LIA will have the authority to inspect the home office, without visiting the employee's home. 

 

IUNO’s opinion

In some areas, the ministry's proposal provides a better understanding of how the rules is to be understood. A great change will be that the LIA has the authority to control the home offices, which will lead to an increased need of documentation for companies. However, the proposed changes do not entail any decisive clarifications on important and practical issues for companies, such as who needs to pay for the equipment for the home office.

IUNO recommends that companies are aware of the duty to maintain a safe working environment in the home office, including the equipment. Although it is not currently, nor in the proposed change, an explicit requirement that the company covers equipment costs, the issue will be closely linked to both the physical and psychosocial work environment.

[Proposal to change the Regulation for Work Performed in the Employee’s Home of 22 April 2021]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Associate

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