The Working Environment Act guarantees all employees the right to be heard through shop stewards and safety representatives. Further down you can read about the Working Environment Act’s minimum requirements for co-determination. In addition to the provisions in the legislation, many collective agreements contain corresponding and extended rights to co-determination. This type of collective agreement is most often called Basic Agreements ('Hovedavtaler').


Basic Agreements

Basic agreements are collective agreements entered between employer’s organizations and employee organizations. The basic agreements lay down the rules of the game for working life, regulate cooperative relations between employers and the union representatives and give the union representatives the right to co-determination. The general principle in the agreement between the parties is that union representatives must be informed and that discussions must take place “as early as possible” before decisions are made.

The Basic Agreement for the Civil Service entered between the Ministry of Digitalisation and Public Governance and the union confederations for state employees, gives a significant degree of co-determination rights through negotiations, discussions and demands to be kept informed. Government employees do not have the right to participate in decisions that are political, or concern the enterprise's role in society. This is because the co-determination should not limit political democracy.

Which regulations apply at your place of work depends on which collective bargaining area it belongs to.

The Working Environment Act

Chapter 8 of the Working Environment Act contains rules on information and discussions with the employees' representatives. The provisions apply to businesses that employ 50 or more employees. The rules must ensure that the employees receive relevant information about important decisions concerning the employees. This applies to matters concerning the company's financial situation, staffing and other decisions that may significantly change the employees' work organization or employment conditions.

In addition to the general provisions on information and discussion in Chapter 8, the Working Environment Act also has a number of other provisions that require co-determination from the employees:

  • § 4-2 – The union representatives must have information regarding the company's systems. Requirements for facilitation, participation and development.
  • § 4-6 – Employees with reduced working capacity must have the opportunity to influence their own working day with regard to facilitation
  • Section 6-2 – Every company has a duty to choose a safety representative from among its employees.
  • Chapter 6 deals with the safety ombudsman's work, and the safety ombudsman's duties.
  • Chapter 7 provides rules on working environment cooperation. In businesses with 50 employees or more, you are obliged to set up a working environment committee - a collaborative committee between the employees and the management.
  • § 9-2 – The employer is obliged to discuss the planning, implementation and change of control measures with the employees' union representatives.
  • Section 15-2 – If the employer plans to dismiss ten or more employees, the downsizing/mass dismissal must be informed about and discussed with the union representatives.
  • § 16-5 – In the case of business transfers, the employer has a duty to provide information and discuss the planning and implementation of the transfer with the union representatives.

Remember that the Working Environment Act only sets the minimum requirement for all employees in Norway. The basic agreements often give more rights to co-determination than the Working Environment Act. Which regulations apply at your place of work depends on which collective bargaining area it belongs to.



The Barometer of Co-determination

From 2016 to 2023, Forskerforbundet was part of the partnership behind the Co-determination barometer, which every two years takes the temperature on co-determination and participation in Norwegian working life.