BERGEN (Dagbladet): – I started as a weekend assistant nurse, then after 14 years of involuntary part-time work I slowly reached a level of 73.49 percent. I got my first full-time position when Sandsley Nursing Home opened in 2020, says Charlotte Licre.
Lykre is now head of department at a three-year-old nursing home in Bergen, which is historic: Sandsley is Norway’s first nursing home where everyone works full-time.
Getting more full-time positions in nursing and care is a key goal for the Government and Labor in municipalities.
– Waiting 14 years for a full-time job is not worth it for Charlotte. Society cannot accept skilled workers in part-time jobs. “I’m delighted to finally be able to visit Sandsley, it shows that there is full-time employment for everyone,” says Prime Minister Jonas Gerstor.
Strong growth after change of law
One of the measures the government has taken to secure more full-time positions is to amend the Working Environment Act. A key provision in the law is that from January 1, employees must be employed on a full-time basis. Also, the employer must document the need for part-time work in writing.
Dagbladet can now present new figures from the union, which show a sharp increase in the number of healthcare worker positions advertised as full-time positions after the law came into force.
- In the first half of 2021, 14 percent of job advertisements were for full-time healthcare workers.
- In the first half of 2023, it has increased to 24 percent.
There are encouraging numbers for the union that organizes many healthcare workers who want to work full-time.
– We can now celebrate with some cake. There has been a significant increase since the law was changed. The number of full-time vacancies has been consistently low for years, and now that trend has reversed. This shows that our professional and political cooperation with the current government is working, says Mette Nord, head of the union federation involved in Sandsli nursing home.
Store: – Waste of people
City council member Rune Bakervik (Ap) is proud to run Norway’s first nursing home full-time.
– Getting enough people is the biggest challenge. Then we need to make working in the field attractive, and full-time is an important part of this. When we took over in Bergen we set a clear goal of getting full-time work, and we see that it is possible when everyone works together, says Bakervik.
When Storr was health minister from 2012 to 2013, there were fewer people over 80. Now the country is facing a demographic wave of elderly people who need nursing and care.
– Employing more health workers and nurses full-time is about the dignity of the staff, but also about the safety of our elderly. Now those elected on September 11 will be responsible for the next big step in senior care. Then hiring professionals on a part-time basis and in part-time positions wastes people and time, Storr says.
12.5 hour shift
Challenged with more full-time positions, the union movement has criticized the rotations needed to get enough people to work weekends and evenings.
At Sandsley, this is resolved by having staff work 12.5-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays and late shifts on Fridays.
– We have an annual cycle, which means that employees have a better opportunity to plan when they work, which fits with their life and health. Says Charlotte Licré, who sits with the big cycle puzzle.
Mette Nord says the union is positive about cycles that make full-time work possible for everyone, but stresses that there must be a safety valve.
– Local government parties should find a good solution within the framework we have. Limits can then be extended to 12.5 hour shifts, but it is important to continue to monitor how that affects sickness absence, ensuring that procedures are sound and that employees are getting breaks.
– We have been accused of stopping growth, but this is to ensure that growth is positive, while we focus on protecting the health of those working in the cycle, Nord says.
Seven out of ten are part-time
Lambertseter Nursing Home opened in Oslo this week, the second nursing home where all staff work full-time. But Sandsley and Lambertsetter are rare birds in a field dominated by part-timers.
Seven out of ten people work part-time in the nursing and care sector. Many of them say that they do it because of heavy workload or to take care of their health.
About half of union members who work part-time — about 40,000 — want a bigger or full-time position, but they don’t get it. Almost all are women.
At the same time, municipalities are crying out for qualified workers.
– This may be the most important fight for equality. Full-time gives women control over their own time and finances, and you are independent from others, which is very important. At the very least, it affects pensions in a big way. If full-time is the norm, I think the gender balance in the care sector will improve, says Med Nord.
Storr believes one of the big differences against the Conservatives in local election campaigns is the full-time culture they work to establish.
– Conservatives say they should work full-time, but about doing it. We are seeing the opening up of the health and care sector in big cities to privatization and saving crores in the budget. Storr says they have no control over the private sector, and concludes:
– You have to have political will from the top of the municipality, like city councilor Rune Bäckvik here in Bergen.
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