Permanent employment is the main rule for employment in the Norwegian working life. But there are alternative affiliations. Fafo has studied exceptions from this main rule in a number of projects. These projects concern fixed term jobs, temporary agency work and zero-hours contracts.
Fafo monitors the development related to forms of employment contracts and how these change over time. What is the extent of the use of fixed term contracts? What characterizes the growth in the temporary work agency sector and how does this growth relate to major changes in the Norwegian working life in recent years? Why do employers use alternatives to permanent employment and what are the consequences for the employees in question? We are also looking at how legislation and regulation though collective agreements may affect the various types of contracts and affiliations.
Temporary employment is a much debated issue. The controversy is whether or not this form of employment contract acts as an entrance to permanent employment, or if it results in more extensive periods of uncertainty. In continuation of this discussion, a question raised is whether temporary employees to a greater extent than others are recruited into jobs of low quality, i.e. jobs that only to a limited degree is developing and/or is characterized by poor working conditions.
Around eight percent (2013) of employees are employed on a fixed term contract. Fixed term contracts are more commonly found in public and private sector services compared to industries such as manufacturing and construction, and many temporary employees fill in for someone who is absent from work for a shorter or longer period. The proportion of employees on fixed term employment in Norway is low compared to a number of other countries. However, changes in the legislation, places fixed term contracts and temporary employees on the agenda as a central issue in the years to come. Will there be an increase in fixed term contracts? How will employers change their hiring practices? And will it be easier or more difficult for employees to transfer from temporary employment into a permanent job?
Employers may solve the need for flexibility by the use of temporary work agency contracts or by outsourcing the work to subcontractors. Thus, a substantial number of employees are not employed at the workplace where they actually perform their work. The temporary work agency industry has increased markedly during the decade since the EU enlargement in 2004, and now includes occupations and industries that previously did not use such contracts. Many temporary hired employees are migrant workers. Thus, the discussion about temporary agency work has also revolved around labor migrants working conditions. Norway, as a consequence of the EU Directive on Temporary Agency Work, has applied new rules for contract labour, and there is a large interest in monitoring how these rules will function.