Collective agreements and legal regulations
Wages and working conditions may be regulated by statutory law and collective agreements and employment contracts. Collective agreements are agreements between a trade union and an employer organisation or an individual employer. In a Norwegian context, such agreements usually consist of two parts: A basic agreement that governs the relationship between organisations and predominant rules, and a national agreement regulating wages and working conditions for a certain industry or a sector.
A collective agreement is applicable within a limited part of the labour market, such as within an industry, a profession or a sector. Agreements are valid only within companies where they have been applied. However, many companies who are not bound by a collective agreement practice parts of collective agreements on a voluntary basis. The collective agreements can also be made generally applicable, and thus be given effect for companies other than those who are bound by them.
The Work Environment Act and the collective agreements play together in different ways. Firstly, legislation may have regulations that can be waived by a collective agreement. Secondly, collective agreements may provide superior rights for employees than the law stipulates. Finally, collective agreements regulate topics that are not regulated by the Work Environment Act, such as payment for unsociable working hours.
The relationship between the Working Environment Act and collective agreements, the scope and development of collective agreements, and industrial disputes and conflict resolution, constitute key research areas at Fafo.