The government in Norway has just scheduled a public hearing for new regulations for the bill that covers the legislation on violence against employees. The Norwegian Union of Social Educators and Social Workers (FO) has worked for these new regulations for years, and the new regulations seems promising.
During the last two years, two social workers were killed by their clients while they were at work. Research shows that violence and threats of violence are serious problems for social workers in Norway, and they are the groups that are most exposed to this. Almost 60 % of social workers and social educators working in children institutions, in municipal child welfare services and in homes for individuals with developmental disabilities reports that they have been victims of violence and threats of violence.
These numbers are excessively high, and FO has worked with other unions like the police union and nurses union to make the government take responsibility. Being a victim of violence leads to a high percentage of sick leave, and FO has argued that employers must make security a priority so it remains possible to recruit and to continue working in these vulnerable jobs.
The new regulations will be an important step towards a safer working environment for social workers, and other employees that are exposed to threats and violence. FO considers this as a victory, but of course, a lot of work has to be done before we can say that all workplaces in Norway are as safe as they can be. Now we have to make sure that that employers will take steps to take the new legislation into action.
According to the legislator, the new regulations will take effect during 2016.