UPDATED: Facility Services company ISS have broken Norwegian anti-discrimination law while looking for temporary employees.
The job advertisement, posted on the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service’s (NAV) web pages, states ISS Renhold is looking to employ short or long-term staff “to fill a responsible cleaning position” at short notice.
“The client requires [the employee has] a security clearance and the position is therefore possible only for ethnic Norwegian persons,” states the company. Place of work is in the Fåberg/Lillehammer area, Oppland County.
“The right person must be able to see the needs of the client and convey/communicate this directly to ISS management. Salary according to collective wage agreement, application deadline soonest,” the advertisement ends.
“First of all, I want to say we have people from approximately 130 nations working for us,” ISS communications advisor Jan Bjørneboe tells The Foreigner. “We have 3,000 foreign workers, something that is very important for our expansion.”
He underlines that it is their customer who requires the security clearance, “but maybe we should have used another word than ‘ethnic’.”
“The choice of word is unfortunate, and we’ll be talking to the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman tomorrow to ask for their opinion,” says Mr Bjørneboe.
The Ombudsman defines the term ‘ethnicity’ as meaning “the particular cultural characteristics that distinguishes a group of people”, with everyone having an ethnicity “regardless of how the concept is defined.”
“[…] When we use the expression ethnic minorities, we exclude the Norwegian ethnic majority, but include all others who are minorities in a Norwegian context. It is illegal to treat a person of an ethnic minority less favourably than a Norwegian ethnic person,” states their website.
According to Ombudsman Sunniva Ørstavik, ISS Renhold’s advertisement contravenes current legislation in this area.
“The law prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity, and there are no jobs for which emphasising ethnicity is relevant,” it’s relevant to emphasise ethnicity,” she says, adding that one does not have to be an ethnic Norwegian to obtain a security clearance.
In a previous article on The Foreigner about Kongsberg Defence Systems’ F-35 Joint Strike Missile (JSM), National Security Agency (NSM) advisor Mona Strøm Arnøy explained there are four levels of national security classifications.
“A security clearance is required to access the three highest ones – Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret,” she said.
Norway does not currently allow dual citizenship, but there is no bar on foreign nationals obtaining them. This has been in place since 2006.
NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) officials have apologized for including the term in question in the published job advertisement, and will be removing it.
ISS was established in Denmark capital Copenhagen in 1901.
Norway has introduced new and modified anti-discrimination legislation, effective 01 January this year. Amongst other things, job adverts must adhere to the UN's International Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which became effective on 04 January 1969. CERD is incorporated into the new Norwegian laws.
How should job adverts adhere to CERD?
"The Convention says that any preference based on race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin that leads to impairing the enjoyment on an equal footing, will be considered racial discrimination. Job adverts must therefor specify and request relevant qualifications, such as experience, knowledge, security assessments, personal skills, etc, and not exclude anyone on the ground of national or ethnic origin, for example. Where you are born, what nationality you have, is of no relevance for the question of your qualifications for a specific job," Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman Sunniva Ørstavik tells The Foreigner, Thursday.
What enforcement possibilities do you have to make sure potential employers adhere to the legislation?
"In cases like the ISS/NAV case, where there is no time to await any administrative decision from the Euqality ans Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, the Ombud may instruct the employer to stop the recruitment process immediately. The company is legally obliged to comply with this."
What will be discussed at today's meeting?
"We have been informed that ISS have withdrawn the advert. We would anyway like to discuss the case with ISS in order to explain the legal frames, give advice on how to avoid such adverts in the future, and help ISS develop good practices for recruitment," the Ombudsman says.