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Temporary Employment

Written by Tekna’s legal department Published: June 20 2023

There’s a limited opportunity for hiring workers on a temporary basis. This is because a main principle of Norwegian law is that an employee is to be employed on a permanent basis, in other words in a continuous and indefinite employment relationship.

The Working Environment Act (section14-9) regulates the opportunity for hiring workers on a temporary basis. Temporary employment contracts can only be used under the following circumstances:

When the type of work requires it

Hiring workers on a temporary basis is allowed in order to cover labor needs associated with seasonal shifts in the retail, tourism and food industries as well as other seasonal enterprises. It’s also allowed to cover needs for extra labor for a limited period of time that occurs on a regular basis, for example during the pre-Christmas holiday season. An employer can also hire temporary employees for work that isn’t seasonal if it’s for short-term and unpredictable situations.

Hiring workers temporarily to help with general or repeated variations in customer orders or uncertainty about a possible future reduction in workloads, reorganizations or the like is not allowed. The boundary between seasonal variations and general variations with regard to workloads is a difficult to determine. Also, the fact that work is organized into projects or individual assignments is in and of itself not enough to justify temporary employment.

An employer must make a specific and open assessment of each individual hiring situation. If you as an employee are to perform work that’s regularly and continuously performed in the organization, this will normally not meet the requirements for this type of work to be performed by hiring you on a temporary basis.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve been legally hired on a temporary basis, you should contact Tekna for an assessment of your situation. And if your temporary employment is in conflict with the law, we’ll be able to help you get this turned into permanent employment.

Temporary positions

This stipulation is practical: simply stated, a temporary position must be ‘real’. This means that a temporary employee must perform predetermined work tasks or take up a certain position if another employee is absent. Typical examples include temporary positions due to sick leave, other types of leave or vacation. Using the same temporary employee several times over is allowed provided that someone is truly absent and the temporary employee covers a labor need caused by this absence. It doesn’t matter whether or not the name of the individual you’re replacing is given in advance.

Other reasons for temporary employment

There’s also an opportunity to hire workers for temporary positions for internships, which in many cases is for training purposes. In addition, unemployed individuals who are looking for work through The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) may be hired on a temporary basis. Hiring someone for temporary work in the field of athletics is also allowed.

A nationwide employees’ organization may also enter into a collective bargaining agreement with an employer or an employers’ organization for the opportunity to hire workers on a temporary basis in the fields of artistic work, research and athletics.

Tekna has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with Abelia (NHO) about the possibility of hiring researchers on a temporary basis.

When are you entitled to permanent employment?

The Working Environment Act (section 14-9, paragraph 7) states that if you’ve been temporarily – yet continuously – employed in a position that is in accordance with what the nature of the work requires – you’re entitled to become permanently employed after four years. If you’ve been a temporary employee or have been temporarily employed on a general basis, you’re entitled to permanent employment after three years. If you’ve been employed on several different bases, your right to permanent employment will be valid after three years. Being a permanent employee means that your employer must follow all requirements regarding objective procedures if they want to dismiss you.

The terms for the right of permanent employment don’t apply to internships, teaching positions, employees working through The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) or athletics.

Temporarily employed in the government?

The main rule on permanent employment also applies to government employees. However, there’s an opportunity to enter into temporary positions if all of the conditions in the Civil Service Act (section 9) are met.

Temporary employment in the government is allowed when:

  • the work is of a temporary nature
  • the employee is a substitute for another employee
  • the work is an internship
  • the work lasts for a period of up to six months when an unforeseen need has arisen
  • the work involves certain educational positions

The regulations in the Civil Service Act stipulate which educational positions are exempt from requirements for permanent employment. These include residents, research fellows, research assistants, deputy judges and attorneys.  

When does a temporary position end?

A temporary employment relationship ends on its own when the agreed time is up or when a specific assignment has been completed. If the temporary employment relationship has lasted more than one year, the employee is to receive a minimum of one month’s notice stating their resignation date. During your period of temporary employment, the law stipulates when your employment relationship will end.  

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