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Norway. Act on Gender Equality, 1978
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Act no 45 of June 9th 1978 on Gender Equality

Article 1 Objectives of the Act

This Act shall promote equal status between the sexes and aims in particular at improving the position of women.

Public authorities shall promote gender equality in all sectors of society.

Women and men shall be given equal opportunities in education, employment and cultural and professional advancement.

Article 2 Subject of the Act

This Act applies to discrimination between men and women in all areas, except for internal conditions within religious communities.

With regard to family life and purely personal matters, this Act is not to be enforced by the authorities mentioned in Art. 10.

In special cases the King may determine that the Act shall not apply, in whole or in part, to certain specific sectors. The opinion of the Board (cf. Art. 10) shall be obtained in such cases.

Article 3 General clause

Differential treatment of women and men is not permitted.

The term "differential treatment" means treatment differentiating between men and women because they are of different sexes. The term also covers treatment which de facto results in an unreasonable disadvantage for one sex compared to the other.

Differential treatment which promotes gender equality in conformity with the objective of this Act, is not in contravention with the first paragraph. This also applies to special rights given to women based on the bioligical differences between the sexes.

The King may issue regulations regarding the kinds of differential treatment which can be accepted pursuant to this Act, including provisions on positive special treatment of men in relation to care for and education of children.

Article 4 Recruitment etc.

A job vacancy must not be advertised as being restricted to one sex unless there is an obvious reason for doing so. Nor must the announcement give the impression that the employer expects or prefers one of the sexes for the position.

In recruitment, promotion, notice to leave or temporary lay-offs of employees, no difference must be made between men and women in contravention with Art. 3.

A job applicant who has not obtained an announced position may require that the employer state in writing the education, experience and other clearly demonstrable qualifications for the position which are possessed by the person of the opposite sex appointed to the job.

If differential treatment of women and men in recruitment, promotion, notice to leave or temporary lay-offs can be established, the employer must substantiate that this is not due to the gender of the applicants or the employees.

Article 5 Equal pay

Women and men employed by the same employer shall have equal pay for work of equal value.

The term "pay" includes ordinary remuneration for work as well as other supplements or cash bonuses, and other benefits given by the employer.

The term "equal pay" means that the pay is to be determined in the same manner for men and women regardless of gender.

If differential treatment regarding wages can be established between men and women performing work of equal value, the employer must substantiate that this is not due to the gender of the employees.

The King may prescribe by regulation what is to be considered the same employer in central and local government service.

Article 6 Education

Women and men shall have equal right to education.

The employer shall consider women and men on equal terms regarding training, further education and in granting leave of absence in connection with education etc.

Regarding admission to courses, schools and studies, and other efforts designed to promote recruitment to a particular trade or profession and when conditions are approximately equal, it will be possible to give priority to one sex if this will help to regulate in the long term any imbalance between the sexes in the trade or profession in question.

If differential treatment relating to circumstances mentioned in the second paragraph of this article can be established, the employer must substantiate that this is not due to the gender of the employees.

Article 7 Teaching aids

In schools and other educational institutions the teaching aids used shall be based on gender equality.

Article 8 Associations

Any association shall be open to women and men on equal terms if

  1. the membership of the association is of importance for the individual memberˇs possibility for work or professional advancement, or
  2. the object of the association is essentially to contribute to a solution to general problems of a social nature.

The injunctions of the first pragraph does not apply to associations where the main object is to promote the interests of one of the sexes.

Article 9 Gender Equality Council

The King shall appoint a Gender Equality Council where the authority and the number of members are to be decided by the Storting at any time.

Article 10 Enforcement of the Act

The King shall appoint a Gender Equality Ombud and a Board - the Gender Equality Board of Appeals - to collaborate in the implementation of this Act. The competence of the Ombud and the Board shall comprise, with the limitations given in the second paragraph of Art. 2, all private enterprise as well as all administrative and commercial activities in the public sector. The Ombud is appointed by the King for six years at a time.

The board shall consist of seven members with personal deputies. Two of the members with deputies shall be appointed at the recommendation of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions and the Norwegian Employerˇs Confederation respectively. The King shall appoint the chairperson and the deputy chairperson, one of whom must possess the qualifications specified for a judge.

The King may issue regulations regarding the functions and organization of the Ombud and the Board. The opinion of the Board shall be obtained in advance.

Article 11 Functions of the Ombud and the Board

With regard to gender equality, the Ombud shall ensure that no offences under this Act is committed. The Ombud shall on his/her own initiative or on the basis of a request from others, seek to ensure that the provisions of this Act are observed. If a voluntary arrangement cannot be reached, the Ombud may bring the case before the Board for a decision, pursuant to Art. 13.

If the Ombud decides not to submit a case before the Board, it may be submitted by anyone who is a party to the case or has brought action without being a party. These cases shall be decided by the Board unless the aggrieved party opposes this.

The Board may require the Ombud to submit certain specific cases to the Board.

Article 12 Decisions by the Ombud

In cases where the Ombud cannot reach a voluntary arrangement and it must be assumed that waiting for a decision from the Board will result in inconvenience or harmful effects, the Ombud may grant a decision as provided for in Art. 13.

The Ombud shall state the grounds for the decision at the time it is made. The Board shall be informed of the decision. An appeal about the decision may be brought before the Board.

Article 13 Decisions by the Board

The Board may prohibit any act which is in contravention with Art. 3 - 8 of this Act if the Board finds that intervention is required with regard to gender equality. The Board may impose measures necessary to ensure that the said act ceases or is not repeated. If the Board is unable to make a decision pursuant to the second paragraph it shall state its opinion as to whether the situation brought before the Board is in contravention with this Act.

The Board may not repeal or alter administrative decisions made by others. Nor may the Board issue injunctions as to how the authority to adopt administrative decisions must be exercised in order to avoid violation of this Act. The term "administrative decisions" means any decision which is covered by Art. 2 first paragraph, litra (a) of the Public Administration Act. The Board cannot make decisions binding for the King or any Ministry.

The Board shall give the grounds for a decision at the same time it is made.

The decision cannot be appealed to the King or to the Ministry but may be brought before the courts for the full trial of the case within the framework of this Act.

Article 14 The Boardˇs relation to the Labour Disputes Court

Under this Act if a case, which indirectly raises a question about the validity, interpretation or continued existence of a collective agreement, is brought before the Board, with postponing effect, each of the parties to the collective agreement may have this question determined by the Labour Disputes Court. The King shall issue regulations for such lawsuits.

In no circumstances can the Board make decisions which come under the competence of the Labour Disputes Court according to the Act of May 5th 1927 regarding Labour Disputes and the Act of July 18th 1958 No 2 regarding Public Service Disputes.

Article 15 Duty to provide information

Regardless of their pledge of secrecy, public authorities are required to provide the Ombud and the Board with such information necessary for the implementation of this Act. Such information may also be required of others who have an obligation to give evidence in accordance with the Civil Disputes Act. Article 211 of the Civil Disputes Act applies correspondingly. Decisions referred to in Art. 207 first subsection, second sentence, Art. 208 second paragraph and Art. 209 second subsection cf. Art. 209 third paragraph, third sentence of the Civil Disputes Act shall be rendered by the District or City Court.

The Board and the Ombud may undertake such investigations and inspections as they find necessary to execute their duties pursuant to this Act. If necessary, they may demand assistance from the police.

The Board or the Ombud may require that information shall be given to, or investigations may be carried out by, other official bodies which are enjoined to be conducive to the implementation of this Act.

Article 16 Pledge of secrecy

Anyone who serves or undertakes assignment for the Board or the Ombud must not without just or sufficient cause allow others to aquire knowledge of information emerging in the course of such service or assignment concerning:

  1. Any individualˇs personal affairs
  2. Technical devices, production methods, plans and prognoses etc., which other enterprises could exploit in their own operations to the detriment of the undertaking to which the information refers.

In addition such information may not be exploited by the person in question in his own activities.

Article 17 Liability for damages

By wilfully or negligently violating the provisions of this Act the tort-feasor shall be liable for damages according to the ordinary rules.

The Court may modify liability under the first paragraph if the effect would be unreasonably onerous or if other considerations indicate so.

Article 18 Criminal liability

Anyone who wilfully or negligently, violates decisions made in pursuance with Art. 12 or 13, or who aids and abets therein, shall be fined.

Violations committed by persons in subordinate positions shall not be punished if the violation is due mainly to the offenderˇs subordinate relation to the person for whom the act is carried out.

Enterprises, associations or foundations on whose behalf such violation has been committed or whose interests the said violation was intended to promote, or which have derived considerable benefit from the violation, may be fined.

The wilful or negligent violation of injunctions pursuant to Art. 15 shall be punished by fines or by imprisonment up to three months, or both. Violations of Art. 16 first paragraph, shall be punished pursuant to Art. 121 of the Penal Code even if the guilty party is not a public servant. Violation of Art. 16 second paragraph shall be punished by fines or imprisonment up to one year, or both.

Article 19 Prosecution

Violations of Art. 18 first to third subsection shall not be subject to public prosecution, except at the request of the Board, unless it is required in the public interest.

The prosecuting authority, in connection with the criminal case, may request judgement in respect of measures to ensure the unlawful act to cease and to prevent its repetition.

Article 20 Geographical scope

This Act applies in the Realm, in Svalbard and on board Norwegian vessels and aircraft in areas not subjected to any Stateˇs sovereignty. This Act also applies to activities on installations and devices on the Norwegian part of the continental shelf.

The King may make exceptions to the provisions of the first paragraph and of the Act. The opinion of the Board shall be obtained before such a decision is made.

Article 21 Representation of both sexes on all official committees etc.

Each sex shall be represented with at least 40% of the members when a public body appoints or elects committees, governing boards, councils, etc. with 4 members or more. Both sexes shall be represented in committees etc. with 2 or 3 members. These provisions also apply to deputy members.

Exceptions from the first paragraph may be granted if special circumstances make it evidently unreasonable to demand that the requirements are fulfilled.

Committees etc. which pursuant to statutory law consist only of members from directly elected bodies need not fulfill the requirements of this article.

For committees etc. elected by local, municipal or county democraticly elected authorities, the provisions of the Act on local and county authorities will apply.

The King adopts rules regarding the enforcement and reporting and may issue supplementary provisions in accordance with this article.

The provisions in this article do not restrict any provisions otherwise applicable concerning representation on official committees etc. pursuant to the provisions of this Act concerning discriminatory treatment.

Article 22 Entry into force etc.

  1. This Act enters into force at the time decided by the King.
  2. From the same time, the second paragraph (new) of Art. 1 in Act No 47 of 16th June 1972 regarding Marketing Control reads:

"An advertiser and anyone who creates advertising matter shall ensure that the advertisement does not conflict with the inherent parity between the sexes and that it does not imply any derogatory judgement of either sex or portray a woman or a man in an offensive manner".

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