Norwegian Seafood Companies calls for unemployment benefit period for layoffs to take effect now

At the end of June, the Norwegian government announced the extension from 26 to 52 weeks would come into effect as soon as possible but did not give an exact date.
Robert H. Eriksson, CEO of the association of Norwegian Seafood Companies (Sjømatbedriftene).

"Sjømatbedriftene expects the change to take effect after the first council of ministers meeting," said Robert H. Eriksson, CEO of the association of Norwegian Seafood Companies, Sjømatbedriftene.

Photo: Sjømatbedriftene.

The association of Norwegian Seafood Companies (Sjømatbedriftene) has taken a few days to speak out but has finally given its opinion on the measure announced by the government that will extend the unemployment benefits period for layoffs in the fishing industry. They are satisfied with what they call a "victory", but Sjømatbedriftene calls for the change to take effect now.

"The government says this will take effect as soon as possible. This is too vague. We are disappointed that it does not take effect from the time the change is communicated," said Robert H. Eriksson, CEO of Sjømatbedriftene. According to him, the association has already received several inquiries from members about when the change will be implemented.

"Everything indicates that the government has communicated the issue before it has been presented to the council of ministers. Sjømatbedriftene expects the change to take effect after the first council of ministers meeting," he emphasized.

The industry has been listened to

As reported by WeAreAquaculture, ten days ago the Norwegian government announced it will temporarily extend the period of unemployment benefits for layoffs in the fishing industry from 26 to 52 weeks within a period of 18 months. The changes that will be applied to individuals are aimed at securing income for those workers in the sector who have been laid off for a long time.

As acknowledged by the Minister of Labor and Inclusion, Tonje Brenna, the move came after Sjømatbedriftene requested this change from the government in March. "We have listened to the industry and therefore propose to strengthen the rights of the employees," she said.

"People should be ensured an income when they suddenly find themselves without a job for an extended period. The current rules have negatively impacted employees in the fishing industry, which the government wants to correct," Minister Brenna explained then.

The association now assessed her words in this way: "It is a major victory that we finally got the government to extend the furlough period. The changes will help secure income for people who have been furloughed for a long time and, not least, create increased predictability for employers."

Awaiting the government's next move

Sjømatbedriftene's CEO was also very pleased that the government has listened to industry organizations and LO (Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions) and has finally taken "the long-awaited move" of increasing the unemployment benefit period from 26 to 52 weeks.

"This has been a repeated topic of discussion for us over a long period. The fact that the government now appears to have come to the same conclusion as Sjømatbedriftene and that they support our proposal is something we are very happy about, but it doesn't come a day too soon," commented the CEO of the association of Norwegian Seafood Companies.

Currently, there are special rules for suspensions in the fishing industry in Norway. Employers have no wage obligations at the beginning or end of the suspension period. On the other hand, unless they rejoin the company, workers are not entitled to receive salary or unemployment benefits, except if they are dismissed and can therefore claim ordinary unemployment benefits.

Now, the government is expected to issue a consultation paper in which it will propose to introduce the obligation to pay wages after 26 weeks for companies in the fishing industry, similar to the unemployment scheme for other companies.

"The situation is challenging, and we initially believe that there is no reason to increase the wage obligation after 26 weeks for companies in the fishing industry," Eriksson commented on the matter. "We will naturally return to this question when we know the specific proposal from the government," Sjømatbedriftene's CEO concluded.

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