As of 1 January 2020, new legislation in the Norwegian Working Environment Act (WEA) on notification of censurable conditions at the workplace (i.e. whistleblowing by employees for breach of law or other ethical standards such as corruption, danger to life and health and poor working conditions) will take effect.
By Ane Sæter, Kluge Advokatfirma AS
Below is a summary overview of the key changes.
Under the WEA employees have the right to make a disclosure of censurable conditions relating to their employer in accordance with internal procedures and policies. The updated legislation provides a number of clarifications in respect of this.
The new legislation aims to make the rules around whistleblowing more accessible and more understandable for both the employee and employer.
One change of significant importance is the definition of “censurable conditions” in the WEA. Unlike before, it will now be stipulated that disclosures exclusively related to an employee’s own employment will not be covered by the definition.
Furthermore, the scope of persons who have the right to make a disclosure has been expanded to not only include employees as before, but also students, military personnel, prisoners, patients, persons in education and apprentices if they conduct work at the employer’s undertaking.
The most significant change is the clarification on the prohibition against retaliation by the employer against the whistleblower. The scope of “retaliation” will be defined in the WEA. This change is meant to clarify that retaliation is to be interpreted broadly, so that all kinds of unfavourable treatment as a result of the employee making a disclosure is illegal. The act will provide examples of circumstances which are typically regarded as retaliation which provides the employee with greater protection from the employer treating them unfavourably as a result of the disclosure.
From the view of the employer, these changes help to clarify how to handle notifications and who has the right to make a disclosure. To prepare for the changes, employers are encouraged to prepare clear internal whistleblowing procedures and policies which comply with the new legislation, to make the conditions clear for both the employer and employee and to avoid possible disputes further down the line.
© 2019 Kluge Advokatfirma AS
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