WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR YOUR COMPANY
Permittering/Furlough process takes time.
The decision should be taken on the right level - Board, CEO, etc. who can justify such measures. After that it should be presented to Union Representatives (if any) and WEC - Working Environment Council (or "AMU" Arbeidsmiljøutvalget in Norwegian) which should exist in every company with more than 50 employees. It can also exist in companies with fewer than 50 employees even though it is not a must.
If you don't know who AMU/WEC are: in a nutshell it is a committee in your company which consists of Employee Representatives (some of your colleagues, representing your interests) and Employer Representatives (representing the company's interests), tending to issues related to Working Environment. As you can imagine, furloughs or even layoffs have a huge impact on the working environment, so such issues are to be discussed with AMU.
For the company doing mass furloughs it is CRUCIAL TO GET AMU/WEC TO AGREE that:
1. there is a strong reason for implementing such measures and the company has done everything possible to avoid furloughs,
2. the reason lies within something outside of company's influence.
The agreement on the above must be documented in a protocol. If there is NO agreement with AMU, it might have a serious impact on the whole process and on NAV procedures (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) when you apply for your unemployment benefits.
WHO COULD BE AFFECTED BY FURLOUGHS
If your company is bound by the Collective Agreement (Hovedavtalen/Master Agreement LO-NHO) the following needs to be considered:
- how long the person is with the company (seniority or "ansiennitet" in Norwegian) is the starting point. This can be changed by other heavier factual reasons.
- key competence and qualifications
- overall assessment ("helhetsvurdering" in Norwegian)
If the company is not bound by the Collective Agreement, they can still choose to go with the above as it is the most structured way. Always remember that your company needs to maintain the resources for operating in crisis/downtime, therefore they will need to keep key personnel and personnel with key competences.
Please, note that being on sick-leave or parental leave would not exclude you from the furlough process as the same rules would apply.
CHECKLIST: WHAT YOUR FURLOUGH NOTICE MUST STATE
Your company should send you a furlough notice ("permitteringsvarsel" in Norwegian) 14 days in advance. Please, note that the countdown starts from the day after you received the notice.
In case of unforeseen events - 2 days notice is allowed, but one should be careful with the term. COVID-19 is no longer an unforeseen event. But for example, on March 12th in Norway when the country entered the state of lockdown, it was.
Your furlough notice is the basis for NAV to pay you unemployment benefits and therefore, it must contain the following information:
- Your name
- Notice date
- Your position and position's percentage
- Starting date of your employment in the company
- Reason of furlough and whether AMU and the company have agreed that this is justified (!)
- Whether the furlough is full or partial (Example: you are on furlough 100% = you do not work at all. You are on furlough 50% = you work only 2.5 days per week). Please, note that your furlough should be minimum 40% in order for you to qualify for receiving unemployment benefits ("dagpenger" in Norwegian) from NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration)
- Number of days with pay duty ("Employer Period")
- When your furlough starts
- Furlough length
If any of the above is missing, please contact your Employer for the revision.
As always, if you want to ask me a question or suggest your topic, please contact me here.
Next time we will look into what you should do after you have received your furlough notice. Please, see the article here.