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Ordering due to the coronavirus

Questions and answers regarding ordering of health personnel.

The rules for ordering of health personnel follow the Health Preparedness Act. On March 6, 2020 it was decided in the Cabinet of Ministers that the provisions will apply to deal with the corona eruption, cf. § 1-5 of the Act. The Norwegian Directorate of Health has been delegated authority for the ordering of health personnel in accordance with section 1-4 of the Act.

Employees serving in the public health and care service are covered by the rules. This applies to both the municipal, regional and state health and care services. In addition, the law covers the social services, as well as the public health work for which the municipalities are responsible under the Public Health Act.

Who can be ordered?

Those who have a working relationship in the health and care service can be ordered. This applies to

  • those traditionally regarded as health professionals,
  • social services employees,
  • professionally trained or trained personnel
  • personnel without special training.

Can employees who are on leave be ordered?

Although health professionals have leave from a position in the health and care service, they are employees. They will therefore be covered by the regulations on ordering.

An employee who is on parental leave can be ordered. Breastfeeding workers should never be employed for work that may cause a risk to the child. This means that if breastfeeding workers are ordered, they must be relocated to other work that does not pose a risk to the child.

Can persons not employed in the health and care service be ordered?

The Ministry may decide that persons who are not employed in the health and care service should be ordered.

This applies to persons who have served in an enterprise covered by the law, and specially qualified persons.

These may be people who have moved on to other fields of work or who have left work / retired. Students / pupils (not younger than 18 years) who are trained to work within the health and care service can also be ordered.

Persons who are over 65 years cannot be ordered. This also applies to sole providers for children under the age of 16 or for the disabled. This means that health professionals who are not the sole providers for children under 16 or for disabled children can be ordered.

Pensioners get no reduction in pension from the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund

Pensioners who are ordered to work in public, private and municipal health and care services in connection with the corona epidemic will keep their occupational pensions in full alongside such paid work. This also applies to pensioners who volunteer to work in the public health service, when it is necessary to meet an extraordinary staff need.

Can the employer assign other work to health personnel?

The employer may reassign its employees within the employer's managerial prerogative. In crisis situations like the corona pandemic, the managerial prerogative goes further than usual. Due to the corona pandemic, there may be a need for redeployment of employees to tasks other than those they normally perform.

Tasks requiring authorization, must be handled by employees who have the necessary authorization.

An employee must be competent to perform the duties assigned to him/her. This means that e.g. a clinical nutritional physiologist competent to it may be redeployed to e.g. care and care. The employer must provide adequate training where needed.

The employer should inform employees as soon as possible of a possible relocation, in order to meet the individual's need for predictability in the work situation. Employees should be flexible in such crisis situations.

We refer to the website of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority:

Coronavirus: Information for workers and employers

Working hours

In principle, the employees have regular working hours under the measures implemented during the corona eruption. The extraordinary situation surrounding the corona virus can nevertheless give the employer grounds for imposing overtime and extra work according to the rules of the Working Environment Act, for example in case of a large drop-out of employees due to illness or quarantine. In principle, the general limits for overtime in Chapter 10 of the Working Environment Act must be followed.

However, the Act provides a basis for exemptions from the provisions of Chapter 10 in situations such as the corona pandemic.

The employer can:

  • make exceptions to the provisions of Chapter 10 of the Working Environment Act in emergency situations to avoid the risk of or damage to life or property
  • enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the right of recommendation to derogate from working time regulations
  • apply to the Labour Inspection Authority for extended use of overtime

Work to avert the risk of harm to life or health

If the enterprise must carry out work to avert the risk of injury to life or property, the provisions of Chapter 10 may be waived in its entirety. It is a prerequisite for the exception that the work is necessary to avert the risk of life or injury, and that the enterprise cannot secure staffing in any other way. When assessing which employees are to perform the work under extended schemes, the employer must consider the health and social consequences for the employees.

The threshold for using this exemption clause is high, and workers who are required to work longer days and work periods must be ensured compensatory rest immediately following the emergency situation. As a general rule, the employee should be compensated hour by hour.

Collective agreement

Forskerforbundet may enter into a collective agreement with an employer or an employers' association on working hours for its members beyond the rules in Chapter 10 of the Working Environment Act. This means that agreements can be made on working time arrangements beyond most of the limits set by law. In any case, the working time scheme must be sound.

Enterprises can apply to the Labour Inspection Authority for extended use of overtime.

The Labour Inspection Authority can authorize up to 25 overtime hours per week and up to 400 overtime hours per year. However, the total working hours (ordinary working hours and overtime) cannot exceed 384 hours over a period of eight weeks.

Rota work

You may have to change your rotation with shorter deadlines than normal.

Corona – risk assessment

All employers must consider whether they have employees or hired staff who may be in an infectious situation. The employer must identify and assess all risks and problems. The survey and risk assessment shall be done in collaboration with the employees and their union representatives.

Examples of risk factors associated with the coronavirus:

  • Workers in risk groups (see overview at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health)
  • Close contact with colleagues or customers / audience (less than 2 meters)
  • Lack of access to hand washing with soap or alcohol-based disinfectants
  • Lack of access to necessary infection control equipment, e.g. gloves, P3 masks, visor / tight goggles
  • Lack of training for employees
  • Traveling

The employer shall take measures to prevent the spread of infection in the enterprise.

Article published March 27, 2020.

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