Information provided by the Norwegian Pensioners’ Association (Pensjonistforbundet) and desk research
Norway has a much higher employment rate than the European average, which is also reflected in the 50-64 age group, where the employment rate is 77.1% compared to the EU average of 68.8%. There is also a large gap between the unemployment rate of 50-64 years old in Norway, which is 1.9%, and the EU average of 5.4%.
In Norway, the law prohibits the dismissal of anyone under the age of 72 because of their age. Employees of the State and private companies affiliated to the Norwegian Civil Service Pension Fund are covered by the Law on Age Limits. This law sets a general age limit of 70. This age limit basically implies an obligation for the employee to resign when he or she reaches it. An extension of up to five years may be granted if the employee meets the requirements of the position. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) also provides work-oriented measures to support people up to the age of 67. These measures are tailored to the individual’s qualifications and vocational training needs.
After the legal retirement age, workers are encouraged to continue working. For example, older workers can continue to work while receiving a pension without it being reduced. In addition, the longer the worker remains in employment, the higher the pension can be. The NAV also offers benefits to encourage workers to remain in employment. For example, up to the age of 67, these older workers can be registered as jobseekers and receive unemployment benefits if they lose their job, even if they are already receiving a pension. Sickness benefit is also guaranteed between the ages of 62 and 70, even if the worker has taken out a pension and compensation is possible.
Each of these measures, even the ones protecting against redundancy or supporting old age in the workplace, sets age limits and raises questions about discrimination against people older than the limits set.
Finally, in order to support people in their transition from work to retirement, many pension providers (public and private) offer introduction courses on the pension system. The NAV also provides a lot of information on its website and answers questions about its public pension. When in retirement, a large proportion of older people in Norway participate in voluntary activities, which creates great value for society while keeping older people active.
Age discrimination in employment
In Norway, the Working Environment Act has a chapter on age discrimination. It prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of age and provides for exceptions from the prohibition against discrimination as suggested by article 6 of the European directive. It applies both to permanent and temporary work, and to all aspects of employment, including publications, trainings, working conditions and termination of employment. Since 2018, age discrimination is also prohibited by an Equality and Discrimination Act which apply for all sectors of society.
The case concerned the company Helikopter Service agreeing with the Pilots’ Union and the Employer’s Federation on pension and retirement age set at 60. However, the age limit for helicopter pilots in Norway is 65.
Ten pilots where denied the right to work based on this agreement and claimed that the age limit of 60 was illegal and a discrimination based on age.
The Norwegian justice system is hierarchical and has three main levels: the District Court (tingrettene), the Court of Appeal (lagmannsrettene) and Supreme Court (Høyesterett)
Both the District Court and the Court of Appeal found the 60 age limit to be fully factual and legal. However, the pilots won the case in the Supreme Court who recognised a discrimination on the basis of age in violation of the EU directive 78/2000 and the Prigge-case, where the Court found that health and safety considerations did not justify a retirement age agreed in a collective agreement that was lower than the age limit provided for in international aviation law. However, the pilots concerned were not entitled to compensatory damages.
Workplaces for all ages
The Working Environment Act ensure safe working conditions for all employees. It provides that every company should have a working environment committee and safety delegates. Regarding older workers, the Act provides that “an employee who has reached the age of 62 or who for health, social or other weighty welfare reasons so needs, shall have the right to reduction of his or her normal working hours if the reduction of working hours can be arranged without major inconvenience to the undertaking”.
Policy Officer on Employment and European Parliament Liaison
Sarah is in charge of AGE’s policy activities in the fields of employment, participation and active citizenship in old age. She also monitors EU initiatives on volunteering for older people and lifelong learning. She is responsible for the Task Force dedicated to on Employment, participation and active citizenship. Sarah also coordinates AGE’s relations with the European Parliament (EP).