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Norwegian government to tackle involuntary part-time work

| Text: Berit Kvam

“Involuntary part-time work is a serious problem both for individuals and for society as a whole. It is the government’s goal to reduce involuntary part-time work and to make sure those who wish can get full-time employment,” says Minister of Labour Hanne Bjurstrøm.

On Friday 26 August Hanne Bjurstrøm highlighted the challenges surrounding involuntary part-time work when presenting the government’s white paper 29 (2010-1011): Joint responsibility for a good and decent working life.

It was an historic event. This was the first time a paper on working conditions, work environment and safety in Norwegian working life has been presented to parliament. The white paper represents an invitation to discuss the basic conditions in and challenges to Norway’s working life. One important aim with this has been to develop the factual and analytical basis for the country’s work environment policy.

One of the challenges identified in the white paper is that “some trades, e.g. the cleaning and restaurant trades, suffer from many less than serious companies and social dumping.” Another problem is that “parts of working life is blighted with high levels of long-term sick leave and alienation, for instance within the health and care sectors and the transport sector.” 

The paper warns against increased social dumping and a larger number of less than serious players, which would weaken the Norwegian working life model. Another challenge, the paper says, is that Norway’s labour market is becoming more and more integrated into a much larger European labour market, where there are large differences in salary levels and working conditions between countries.

Tackling the challenge

Involuntary part-time work means a worker is not allowed to work full-time if he or she wants to. In 2010 nearly 70,000 workers said they wanted to work more than they were doing, and three in four of them were women. But these are complex challenges.

“Many workers want to work part-time,” says Hanne Bjurstrøm, who underlines the importance of being allowed to take your own family situation and ability to work into consideration. 

The Minister of Labour says she will tackle the problem by evaluating part-time workers‘ right to be considered for full-time jobs before external applicants, in order to make sure this rule is being applied properly. The government will also examine the right to expand your working hours if you over time have been working more than your agreed hours.      

Reducing involuntary part-time work calls for a range of measures and efforts made both centrally and locally in the work places. This year the government has initiated a three year, 75 million Norwegian Kroner (€9.7m) programme to find practical solutions locally and to spread them.

The Minister of Labour says she will invite the social partners to present to them the government’s policy on full-time/part-time work and to underline the partners’ responsibility to pave the way for full-time employment. 


Read more at the Ministry of Labour’s webpage (in Norwegian):
Felles ansvar for eit godt og anstendig arbeidsliv. Arbeidsforhold, arbeidsmiljø og sikkerheit.





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