On 9 December 2022, amendments were made to the Working Environment Act with the aim of expanding the right to full-time employment. The changes came into force on 1 January 2023. Full-time means normal working hours in the relevant profession, professional group or industry.
New normative provision
A new provision has been added in § 14-1 b, which states that the main rule in working life must be full-time employment. The first paragraph has the character of a program provision, and will probably have the greatest significance when interpreting other provisions in the Act. The second paragraph has more direct practical consequences, as it lays down a duty to provide documentation and a duty to discuss with union representatives in the case of part-time employment.
The preferential right to an extended position also applies to hire
The provision in section 14-3, first paragraph, on part-time employees’ preferential right to an extended position over new employment, is extended to also apply to hire.
Preferential right to extra shifts and the like
Part-time employees’ preferential right is further extended to cover extra shifts and the like. This change appears in a new second paragraph in section 14-3. The exercise of preferential rights to extra guards etc. can, under specified conditions, be limited to a part of the business, after discussions with union officials. The provision does not give preferential rights over the employer covering vacant shifts with own employees. In the Ministry’s proposal, reference is made in particular to internal staffing centers in the health sector, as an example of arrangements still being legal.
The current limitations in § 14-3, that the employee must be qualified, that the positions contain roughly the same tasks, and that the preferential right is not a significant disadvantage for the business, will also apply to the extensions of the preferential right.
Dispute Resolution Board
The system whereby disputes regarding preferential rights are decided by the dispute resolution board according to § 17-2 will continue, but will not apply to preferential rights to extra shifts and the like. The reason is that disputes regarding extra shifts etc. as a rule will no longer be relevant when they come to the tribunal. In the event of a breach of the preferential right, compensation will be the relevant remedy. A claim for compensation must be decided by the courts.