Basis for temporary employment

Midlertidig ansettelse

shaking hands.

The Working Environment Act specifies six different grounds for temporary employment. In this article they are reviewed chronologically, from A to F

Alternative A – When the work is of a temporary nature

There are several types of work that are of a temporary nature. It includes cases where the nature of the work is different from the work normally carried out in the enterprise, and clear differences regarding the amount of work, as well as external circumstances involving a temporary need for labour. 

A right exists, for instance, to employ staff temporarily to cover a need for labour related to seasonal variations, for instance in the tourist industry or the food industry. The enterprise also has a right to employ workers on a temporary basis  for peak periods that are not related to seasonal variations to cover short and unpredictable situations. An example of this may be a hotel that unexpectedly receives a large number of guests.

Basically, the employment of temporary staff to carry out isolated tasks or projects is permitted. The condition for this, however, is that this is time-limited work that does not form part of the permanent or current tasks of the enterprise. If the enterprise has many similar projects consecutively over time, it may be that the need for labour is not temporary and that instead employment on a permanent basis is required.

Notice that the rules relating to temporary employment are strictly enforced by the courts. Normally, the temporary need must not be for too long a period – if it extends over several years, this indicates that the need for labour may be covered through permanent employment. If the temporary employment relationships are repeatedly prolonged, and that after they are finished the same employment opportunities exist for the employee, this is an indication that the employment relationship is in a danger zone.  


Alternative B - For work as a replacement for another person or persons (temporary position)

A right exists to employ staff temporarily to carry out specific tasks or fill a specific position when other employees are absent, for instance in connection with illness or leaves of absence. It is not a condition that the substitute fills the position of one particular person, but that temporary employment may be used for uncovered tasks that may be associated with one or more persons, as is typically the case during the holiday period. Basically, the same substitute may be used several times, provided that someone is actually absent from work and the temporary employee covers the need for labour caused by the absence.

Notice that the so-called "basic staffing principle" may imply restrictions on the right to employ temporary staff and that instead the enterprise has to increase its basic permanent staff. Firstly, for this principle to be put to use, it is required that the enterprise has a constant and predictable need for labour. The number of employees and the absentee rate in the enterprise will be of importance here. The absence in larger enterprises, for instance, will normally be more predictable and may be covered by a higher number of permanent employees. Secondly, it is required that an increase of the basic staffing must not be of considerable disadvantage to the enterprise. Thirdly, there must be a sufficient connection between the temporary employee who demands permanent employment and the employment relationship in question. 

If the conditions are met, there is a requirement to increase the permanent staff instead of employing more substitutes or establishing long-term temporary positions.


Alternative C – Work as a trainee

Temporary employment is permitted to carry out work as a trainee. This alternative is aimed at appointments established for training and educational purposes. Normally, such work takes place in connection with training and qualifying within a specialist area and often provides the basis for further education. The objective of the work as a trainee must be to qualify the employee for education or training purposes.

It is not required that the educational element constitutes a predominant and necessary part of the responsibilities of the position, or that an organized supervisory function is associated with the position for it to be considered as trainee work. It may be considered as trainee work even if the employee will only be practicing his/her theoretical knowledge and carry out work that corresponds to what a permanent employee performs, and thus covers a need for labour.


Alternative D – Participant in labour market schemes in cooperation with the Labour and Welfare Service

The provision permits temporary employment of participants in labour market schemes under the auspices of or in cooperation with the Labour and Welfare Service (NAV). This includes both ordinary employees and employees with reduced working capacity. Such work may include allowances to a person while he/she is waiting for employment, qualifying activities and work training measures, as well as employment measures.


Alternative E - Athletes, trainers, referees and other leaders within organized sports

The alternative permits temporary employment of athletes, trainers, referees and other leaders within organized sports.


Alternative F – Temporary employment on a general basis

This alternative allows the enterprise to employ staff temporarily on a general basis for up to 12 months. This provision is different from the other alternatives in that no specific reasons are defined as a basis for the temporary employment. The tasks that are carried out may be time-limited or of a permanent nature.

The scheme is subject to certain limitations regarding time and scope, of which the following are the most important ones:

  • The maximum term of employment is limited to 12 months.
  • A quota limitation applies – such jobs cannot constitute more than 15 % of the number of employees/individuals in the enterprise. Independent of size, however, all enterprises are entitled to have at least one employee on this basis.
  • A quarantine arrangement applies. This implies that it is prohibited to employ a new person on a general basis to carry out work of the same nature for a period of 12 months. The quarantine takes effect when the temporary employee cannot continue his/her employment relationship either in the form of a permanent job or on a different temporary basis.

NHO has prepared a supplementary guide with questions and answers related to temporary employment on a general basis. A closer review is avaliable here (in norwegian)

Briefly on "extra help/call-in help/phone-in temporary help"

A characteristic feature of this type of temporary employment is that the enterprise calls in the employee as needed. The employment relationship of the call-in help/extra help starts every time the employee is called in and ends when the turn of work ends. The condition for this type of employment is that a need for help arises that the enterprise is not able to plan for in advance, or in connection with an extraordinary, temporary peak situation. One example of this may be the need for extra service staff in connection with large events. Another example is the need for extra labour if an employee suddenly becomes ill.

It is important not to confuse the concept of extra help with part-time employees. Part-time employees for whom there is a permanent need shall be permanently employed. An example of a part-time employee is a permanent help on Saturdays as a shop assistant.