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Norwegian Employment Law - Summer 2019 Update

It is summer holiday (for most Norwegians, anyway) and what is better than combining the beach, the pool or wherever you are with spending 3 minutes getting up to speed with a small bouquet of the many exciting developments of Norwegian employment law in 2019? Let's dive in and look at downsizings, selection pools, #metoo legislation and a first officer that ran his ship on ground.
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The year started slow, although many labour lawyers were astounded, confused and/or upset by an  obiter dictum in a Labour Court ruling from January and although some clarifications where made by the Supreme Court in a case concerning temporary lay-off rules in February. In March, however, a landmark Supreme Court ruling ticked in. Skanska, bound by a collective agreement stating that in downsizings, length of service can be deviated from if there are fair grounds for doing so, was sued by several employees claiming that the redundancy terminations were invalid. The employees won and kept their jobs. The Supreme Court offered several interesting statements on the significance of length of service when companies bound by collective agreements downsize. More on the ruling here.

In April, the appellate committee of the Supreme Court decided to take in a case that most likely will be heard by the Supreme Court in 2019: In the case, the main question is whether the selection pool the employer had applied, was valid. The Supreme Court ruling will be another piece in the selection pool puzzle consisting of several other recent rulings.

The unlucky/negligent first officer that had unsuccessfully steered the ship “Hurtigruten” through a passage in dense fog without controlling radar or map machines, resulting in the ship hitting ground and inflicting a loss of a total of MNOK 20 on the employer, lost his lawsuit for unfair dismissal when the Supreme Court published its ruling in May. The Appellate Court had found that the termination was invalid, but the Supreme Court found that the termination was indeed valid, placing emphasis on the gravity of the mistakes and the fact that the first officer had been offered a new role as second officer.

In the wake of the #metoo movement, a new amendment was included in the Equality and Discrimination Act in June, establishing a low threshold possibility to have #metoo cases tried before the Discrimination Committee.

And lastly, a number of amendments on the whistleblowing rules were adopted in June and will come into force 1 January 2020. Among the main amendments, the terms “censurable conditions”, “proceed responsibly” and “retaliation”. The amendment will come into force 1 January 2020.