Social dumping

Increased labour immigration has led to problems with social dumping in some industries. Social dumping is deemed to be present both if foreign employees are subject to breaches of health, safety and working environment regulations and if they are paid wages that are unacceptably low.

The term social dumping refers to the practice of giving workers, and particularly migrant workers, significantly poorer pay and employment conditions than Norwegian workers. This can involve breaches of health, working environment and safety regulations, including rules on working hours and requirements for housing standards, and/or when  wages and other benefits are unacceptably low in comparison with the normal earnings of Norwegian employees or do not comply with regulations for general application of collective agreements where these are in force.

Rules about health, safety and the working environment apply to everyone who works in Norway. Important provisions with a bearing on employment relationships also apply to foreign employees through the provisions of the Working Environment Act concerning posted employees. The Tariff Board has issued regulations on the general application of collective wage agreements that entitle foreign workers within the area of application of the regulations to the wages and working conditions that follow from the regulations.

The Labour Inspection Authority and the Norwegian Ocean Industry Authority are important players in the efforts to combat social dumping. In addition to supervising that the HSE requirements are complied with, the authorities supervise that the conditions for work permits pursuant to the Immigration Act are complied with and that employees receive the wages and have the working conditions they are entitled to pursuant to regulations concerning the general application of collective agreements.

The Labour Inspection Authority has more in-depth information about the regulation of working conditions in Norway.

Work-related crime

Financial gain is a key motivation behind social dumping and work-related crime. There is a close linkage between social dumping, work-related crime and other forms of economic crime, such as money laundering, fraud, bankruptcy-related crime, tax evasion, fraudulent accounting and securities crime.

The term work-related crime refers to various forms of profit-motivated crime in working life. This type of crime takes place at the cost of employees’ conditions of employment and rights, but it also undermines the tax base and the welfare system. Unscrupulous and criminal actors who exploit tax rules and benefits schemes for their own enrichment contribute to the undermining of trust in Norwegian authorities and the welfare system.

There is no legal definition of work-related crime; it is a generic term for acts that violate Norwegian laws on pay and employment conditions, benefits and taxes, often in an organised form, that exploit workers or distort competition and undermine the social structure.

A coordinated effort from a number of public authorities is required to prevent and combat workplace crime and social dumping. An inter-agency collaboration has been organised, involving the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, the Norwegian Tax Administration and the police.

The government has presented an action plan to combat social dumping and work-related crime.

Tripartite industry cooperation in vulnerable sectors

Preventing social dumping and combatting work-related crime requires cooperation between the authorities, trade unions and employer organisations. This tripartite cooperation takes place in a number of arenas and with different policy instruments. Tripartite industry programmes have been introduced in cooperation between the authorities and the parties as a means of contributing to decent and proper working conditions in vulnerable sectors. There are tripartite industry programmes in cleaning services, transport, the hospitality service industry and the automobile sector.  The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority facilitates the activity on the part of the authorities.

In addition, there are also seven industry programs aimed at improving the working environment and preventing sickness absence and dropouts based on the IA agreement.