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Article | Global News Briefs

Norway: Gender equality disclosure mandate introduced

February 17, 2020

Amendments to the Equality and Discrimination Act include more detailed requirements for employers to ensure gender equality in the workplace.
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Employer Action Code: Act

The Equality and Discrimination Act (Norway’s primary framework governing equality and anti-discrimination) has been amended to include more detailed requirements for employers to ensure gender equality in the workplace. The most notable change is the introduction of mandatory gender equality disclosure. While the act previously contained a general mandate for larger employers to examine and prevent — through internal risk analysis — inequality and discrimination for protected characteristics such as gender, religion and disability, the requirements were fairly broad and aspirational in nature.

Key details

  • Companies with 50 or more employees are required, every two years, to conduct an internal analysis of gender-based reward differences and instances of “involuntary part-time work” (where staff would like to work full time but cannot due to work/life balance concerns). The mandate can apply to operations with 20 to 49 employees if requested by union representatives.
  • The analysis must include all forms of compensation, occupational benefits and benefits-in-kind provided to staff as well as broader employment practices and entitlements (such as working hours and paid leave). The results must provide an overview of job holders by gender as well as average reward and provision levels on a functional or other internal job category basis. Employee representatives should be involved in preparing the analysis. Findings must include a detailed risk assessment of specific factors influencing equality, company policies relating to those factors and the steps companies have taken to address issues identified.
  • There are no remedial or punitive measures related to the results of the analysis, but those results must be disclosed publicly as part of companies’ annual reports or as separate reports and submitted to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman. Firms with 20 to 49 employees are not required to disclose the results publicly.
  • Internally, employees and union representatives must be given access to the data as needed in order to explore potential gender equality issues, subject to individual confidentiality requirements if the data concerned involve protected characteristics. The data subjects must also be informed of the data disclosed and the basis for which the data were requested.    

Employer implications

While the act does not provide a deadline by when the first analysis and disclosure must take place, more specific guidelines on the process and forms are expected from the ombudsman. The amended act is far more prescriptive in terms of the burden on employers to conduct the analysis and potentially wide-ranging in effect, depending on the findings and employee and union responses. Employers should review the amended act and begin planning for the development of policies and practices for conducting the analyses and handling the disclosure requirements.

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