Understanding Furlough/Permittering: it starts with a good reason

GENERAL FACTS

 

The word "permittering" in Norwegian means "furlough". What does it mean for you as an employee?

 

  • your company has a necessity to reduce or stop operations which results in the consequent lack of work for you,
  • you are TEMPORARILY released from working duties and it is assumed that you will RESUME working at a later point,
  • your company is TEMPORARILY released from the obligation of paying you,
  • furlough can be full or partial. When it is full, you should not perform any work. Partial furlough means that you work reduced hours since the percentage of your position is being temporarily reduced.

 

As you can see, furlough is a temporary arrangement - you still remain employed by the company. The furlough length cannot be longer than 26 weeks, as a rule, but Norwegian government will allow the extension of furlough period up to 52 week. However, furlough can definitely be shorter and your employer can call you in back to work even though your furlough period has not run out yet.

 

REASONS

 

The reason is always  BUSINESS-related and can never be EMPLOYEE-related. In addition the reason lies within something OUTSIDE of company's influence. The reason must always be stated in your furlough notice. Let's look at the following situations: 

 

  •  V You work in a travel agency. Global pandemic happens, government introduces new regulations, the borders are closed, all travel is suspended. As the result your company is forced to reduce or stop operating all together. This results in its turn in a lack of work tasks for you. The situation is temporary. The reason relates to the state of business itself and lies outside of company's influence. It has nothing to do with you as an employee, your performance, etc. This is a valid reason.

 

  • X You work in Sales. You are being told that your performance is not as good as before and you do not hit your budgets. This is not a valid reason for sending you on furlough since it does not refer to the state of business, but to you as an employee.

 

A relevant fun fact is also that the reason of furlough cannot be just COVID-19 in itself. The company needs to show how its business is affected by COVID-19 for the furlough to be justified. See the following examples:

 

1.  You work as an Engineer and you are being sent on furlough "due to the outbreak of COVID-19". 

X This reason is not good enough. It does not show how and why the company is affected by it. Why exactly does the company need to stop/reduce certain operations which will result in the lack of work for you as an Engineer?

 

 

2. You are being sent on furlough due to that the Company "experiences financial difficulties as the result of  COVID-19 outbreak".

X This is still not 100% good enough. How do we know that the financial difficulties are caused by COVID-19 specifically? Maybe the company experiences the same financial losses every year anyway? For this reason to be valid the company would need to explain how the pandemic affected the business which in its turn resulted in even higher financial losses than usual or projected.

 

 

3. You work as an Event Organiser. You are sent on furlough due to "the effects of COVID-19 and consequently introduced government regulations, which make it impossible to arrange public events. The company needs to comply with the regulations and as the result the existing projects are put on hold. This will consequently result in a lack of work for your position"

This is a valid reason. The employer does not simply refer to COVID-19 but provides a detailed explanation as to how the business is affected. It also lies outside of company's influence, there is nothing they can do since it all comes down to government measures.

 

If you have any questions on the topic  - please ask me here.

 

Next time we will talk about what your company should do BEFORE they send you the notice and I will post the checklist for what your furlough notice must state, so that you have no problem applying for compensation/unemployment benefits. Please, see the article here.

 

*THIS ARTICLE WAS LAST UPDATED ON 18.08.2020