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Norway – Fall in temporary staffing was expected

29 August 2013

Temporary recruitment fell in Norway during the second quarter by -5.3%, according to the latest figures from Members of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO). This fall had been predicted following the implementation of the Temporary Agency Directive from the European Union.

According to Even Hagelien, CEO of NHO, there has been a lot of speculation about the impact on the staffing industry by the new directive. Some trade unions had predicted an increase in temporary recruitment. While the staffing industry had prepared itself for a more challenging environment. Hagelien added that the Norwegian government not only chose to take advantage of an available exemption clause for collective agreements, but also adopted a package of measures over-and-above the directive requirements. 

Industry statistics show a -5.3% fall in the number of hours worked by temporary employees during the second quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year. Temporary workers account for 1.3% of the total workforce in Norway.  

Hagelien commented: “In light of the new regulatory framework and the involvement from parts of the trade unions to limit temporary recruitment, [the decline] is hardly surprising. In fact, it must be regarded as positive that the decline is only about 5%.”

Staffing industry activity is still significantly higher than in 2011, considered within the industry as a high water mark. The construction industry reported the biggest drop with -11%, year-on-year, with slowdowns in manufacturing, IT, and logistics & transport. The fall in the construction industry, according to Hagelien, is not solely attributable to the new legislation due to slowing customer demand in the sector.  

Minor changes have been noted in other areas; such as office administration, customer services, finance, and healthcare. The latter reported growth of +1.6% during the second quarter. “For these areas, the market is fairly stable, and the new regulatory framework has had little impact on market development,” said Hagelien.

Despite difficulties in the market,there have been areas of significant growth. The provision of highly qualified technical professionals increased +37%, and the provision of staff to schools and nurseries increased +32%. The hospitality sector also reported growth during Q2 2013.

Hagelien added: “The staffing industry has supported the principle of equal treatment to ensure employees’ rights. And we have been aware that the new rules would lead to some inflation and create some uncertainty in the market. Businesses have been willing to accept the additional strain while maintaining a long-term view of strengthening the industry over time.”

Looking forward, Hagelien commented: “We assume that 2013 will be challenging for the industry but that it will also help to build the foundation for more robust staffing firms in future.”

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