Written by

Thea Bytofte
Senior Associate

Bill on preventing and tackling sexual harassment

The Ministry of Employment recently introduced a bill aiming to implement parts of the tripartite agreement on combatting sexual harassment in the workplace, but the 1 November general election means legislative progress is currently on hold.

In March 2022, the social partners and the government entered into a tripartite agreement on initiatives to combat sexual harassment in workplaces. You can find more information here.

The purpose of the tripartite agreement was, among other things, to provide the necessary tools for employers to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and, by doing so, support a cultural change in certain workplaces. The draft bill regarding the initiatives in the tripartite agreement that require legislative changes was sent for consultation just before the summer holiday.

Shortly before the general election was called, the bill was tabled without significant changes. It involves concrete implementation of the initiatives in the tripartite agreement, which – as mentioned – require legislative changes, including the possibility of compensation under the Equal Treatment Act, an increase in the level of compensation by one-third in cases of serious sexual harassment, as well as the implementation of a number of measures aimed at strengthening the legal position of trainees and apprentices covered by the Vocational Education Act in cases of sexual harassment.

In addition, the bill contains, among other things, a clarification of the employer’s responsibilities and duties in relation to preventing and dealing with cases of sexual harassment, as well as a clarification of the criteria that should be taken into consideration when calculating compensation under the Equal Treatment Act. Finally, the bill clarifies that a victim’s credible explanation can be sufficient to demonstrate factual circumstances that create a presumption of sexual harassment.

According to the bill, the changes were set to enter into force on 1 January 2023.

However, as a result of the general election, the bill has in principle lapsed, and the question of whether the bill will be reintroduced awaits the formation of the new government. It is our expectation that the bill will be reintroduced without significant changes, as it was based on a broad political agreement.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.