Laws and regulations

Norway has a progressive statutory framework that seeks to prevent differential treatment and promote gender equality. Extracts from relevant legislation are compiled below.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act entered into force on 1 January 2018, replacing four previous acts.

Act relating to equality and a prohibition against discrimination (Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act)

Section 1. Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to promote equality and prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, care responsibilities, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age or other significant characteristics of a person.

“Equality” means equal status, equal opportunities and equal rights.

This Act has the particular objective of improving the position of women and minorities. 

Section 6. Prohibition against discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, care responsibilities, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age or combinations of these factors is prohibited. “Ethnicity” includes national origin, descent, skin colour and language.

“Discrimination” means direct or indirect differential treatment.

Section 11. Permitted positive differential treatment

Positive differential treatment on the basis of factors specified in section 6, first paragraph, is permitted if:

a) the differential treatment is suited to promote the purpose of this Act,

b) the negative impact of the differential treatment on the person or persons whose position will worsen is reasonably proportionate in the view of the intended purpose, and

c) the differential treatment will cease when its purpose has been achieved.

Section 13. Prohibition against harassment

Harassment and sexual harassment are prohibited.

“Harassment” means acts, omissions or statements that have the purpose or effect of being offensive, frightening, hostile, degrading or humiliating.

“Sexual harassment” means any form of unwanted sexual attention that has the purpose or effect of being offensive, frightening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or troublesome.

Employers and managers of organisations and educational institutions shall prevent and stop harassment and sexual harassment in their area of responsibility.

Section 26. Duty of employers to promote equality

All employers shall, in their operations, make active, targeted and systematic efforts to promote equality and prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, care responsibilities, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Such efforts shall encompass recruitment, pay and working conditions, promotion, development opportunities, accommodation, the opportunity to combine work with family life and preventing harassment.

All public undertakings, regardless of size, and private undertakings that ordinarily employ more than 50 persons shall, in the context of their operations:
a) investigate whether there is a risk of discrimination or other barriers to equality,
b) analyse the causes of identified risks,
c) implement measures suited to counteract discrimination and promote greater equality and diversity in the undertaking, and
d) evaluate the results of efforts made pursuant to a) and c).

Section 26a. Duty of employers to issue a statement

All employers have a duty to report on:

a) the current state of affairs with regard to gender equality in the undertaking, and

b) equality measures implemented or planned to promote the Act’s purpose of equality irrespective of gender.

Public undertakings, and private undertakings that ordinarily employ more than 50 persons, shall issue a statement on equality measures implemented or planned to promote the Act’s purpose of equality irrespective of ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Section 34. Equal pay for work of equal value

Women and men in the same undertaking shall receive equal pay for the same work or work of equal value. Pay shall be set in the same way, without regard to gender.

Read more: Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act

Act relating to working environment, working hours and employment protection, etc. (Working Environment Act)

Section 13-1. Prohibition against discrimination

Direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of political views, membership of a trade union, or age is prohibited.

Harassment and instruction to discriminate against persons are regarded as discrimination.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply correspondingly in the case of discrimination of an employee who works part-time or on a temporary basis.

In the case of discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, care responsibilities, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act shall apply.

Read more: Working Environment Act

Act relating to universities and university colleges (University and University College Act)

Section 6-2. Gender equality

Universities and university colleges shall make active, targeted and systematic efforts to ensure gender equality in all categories of employment at the institution.

Section 6-3. Advertisement of and appointment to academic posts

If one sex is clearly underrepresented in the category of post in the subject area in question, applications from members of that sex shall be specifically invited.

When an expert assessment is conducted, both sexes shall be represented among the experts. When the appointment is made, importance shall be attached to gender equality considerations.

Read more: University and University College Act

Basic Agreement for the Civil Service

Chapter 8.31, Section 31. Gender equality

The following of some of the main provisions in the Basic Agreement for the Civil Service regarding gender equality in working life:

The employer is responsible for initiating, implementing and reporting on gender equality measures in the agency. The adjustment agreement shall contain provisions concerning gender equality:

  • competence-building measures, such as measures to ensure that women are assigned tasks of a competence-building character on an equal footing with men, particularly with a view to managerial responsibilities,
  • measures to ensure gender-neutral criteria for fixing of salaries and such practice of these criteria as promotes gender equality,
  • provisions concerning positive differential treatment.

Advertising of posts:
The advertisement text for posts shall be drafted with a view to recruiting applicants of both genders. In categories of post where one of the genders is underrepresented, the advertisement text should include an invitation to members of the underrepresented gender to apply for the post.

In managerial posts where women are underrepresented, the advertisement text shall include an invitation to women to apply for the post. The elected union representatives shall be given the opportunity to comment on the advertisement text before the vacancy is announced.

Gender quotas:
If two or more applicants to a vacant post have approximately equivalent qualifications for the post, applicants from the gender that is underrepresented in the category of post concerned shall be given preference. The gender that comprises less than 40 percent of the employees in the category of post concerned is regarded as underrepresented.

Read more: Basic Agreement for the Civil Service

More regulations

There are also a multitude of local decisions, regulations and documents that regulate gender equality work. This includes strategic plans at institutional level, personnel policies and regulations, local amendments to the collective agreements, adjustment plans, employee and organisational policies and local wage politics.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud

The equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman is for those who are discriminated against. The main task is to promote equality and fight against discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and age.

The ombudsman is an alternative to court proceedings in cases of discrimination, and is a low threshold option that is easily accessible.