Solo self-employed may now negotiate collectively

The Norwegian Competition Authority will follow the EU’s new approach to collective bargaining for the solo self-employed. This entails that collective negotiations for better pay and working conditions will be possible without being in breach of the competition rules.

At the end of September this year, the EU Commission published new guidelines on collective bargaining. These guidelines make it clear that the EU competition rules do not bar solo self-employed people from collectively negotiating for better pay and working conditions. This group of people may be in need of improving their pay and working conditions collectively without risking breaching EU competition law.

– The Norwegian Competition Authority will follow the approach of the new guidelines when enforcing the Norwegian Competition Act. It is a positive development that these workers now will have the opportunity to improve their pay and working conditions, says Director General Tina Søreide.

The Competition Act prohibits agreements between undertakings that restrict competition, e.g. by fixing prices or sharing markets. In the labour market the situation is different. Cooperation between workers is regarded as desirable to strengthen their ability to secure good pay and working conditions in negotiations with powerful employers or companies. Such cooperation between workers is therefore exempt from the Competition Act.

The new guidelines are aimed towards those who are formally self-employed, but who work alone in their own enterprises. It is clarified in the guidelines when this group may collectively negotiate with their employers in the same way as ordinary workers without being in breach of EU competition rules.

– The collective negotiations may only concern salary and working conditions with employers or employer representatives. Amongst other things, this means that such collective negotiations cannot concern the fixing of consumer prices. This may still be in breach of the competition rules, says Søreide.

Tina Søreide, Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority