LO's Ethical Guidelines

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LO's Ethical Guidelines

LO is an ethically responsible organisation. LO will live up to its own principles and be a trustworthy social player. LO is an organisation with power and influence, which has at its disposal and manages substantial financial assets. This requires LO as an organisation, all employees, elected officers and anyone who represents LO to respect, recognise and live up to the ethical principles and values inherent in LO's objects clause, Articles of Association and programme of action.

The work is based on unionising employees and strengthening workers' rights, as well as on the trade union movement's basic values: solidarity, strength in numbers, respect and justice.
The ethical guidelines apply to employees, elected officers, contract labour and all those who represent or in other ways act on behalf of LO on assignments, projects or while travelling.

Regardless of where employees, officers and others who represent LO perform their duties, they are required to comply with LO's ethical guidelines. They must also comply with prevailing legislation and regulations, contractual obligations, and internationally respected human rights, as well as with the requirements ensuing from good business practice and recognised standards of conduct.

LO attaches importance to an open culture of freedom of expression. Such a culture is crucial for the working environment and for individuals' well-being. Moreover, an open culture of freedom of expression is essential if the organisation is to work, develop and prevent bad practices from gaining a foothold.

During each congress period, LO is to review its ethical guidelines and anti-corruption routines.


An organisation's reputation is created by the individual employee's conduct. Leaders bear a special responsibility for ensuring that duties are carried out and general behaviour is appropriate.

Employees, elected officers and others who represent LO shall comport themselves in a manner that inspires confidence and show respect for business associates, colleagues and others with whom they come into contact in conjunction with their work. The organisation does not accept harassment or conduct that can be perceived as threatening or debasing.

LO has zero tolerance for harassment and bullying, and it has routines for conflict management.

No one shall be subject to illegal or unreasonable discrimination based on gender, religion, political views, ethnicity, skin colour, national origin, functional abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, living arrangements or age.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against based on any of these factors, or you feel that elected officers, employees or LO as an organisation have discriminated against someone else, discuss this with your immediate superior or with the Human Resources Department.

Alcohol and intoxicants
Elected officers, employees and others who represent LO shall refrain from using alcohol and other intoxicants in a manner that could put the organisation or the organisation's business associates in an unfavourable light.

Employees shall not drink alcohol during ordinary working hours. In connection with ordinary meetings, representation or business trips, expenses for alcohol will not ordinarily be refunded.

Expenses for alcohol will normally be refunded only in conjunction with meals and on the proviso that the amounts are limited and prices are reasonable, in compliance with LO's hospitality guidelines. Special guidelines apply to international projects.

There is zero tolerance for the use of intoxicants that are not legal in Norway. This refers both during official programmes and during "leisure time" on business trips.

Driving or operating other vehicles or machinery while under the influence is strictly prohibited. This also applies in countries and areas in which the local norms and rules are not as strict as in Norway.

If you experience that employees do not comply with LO's guidelines on this point, discuss it with your immediate superior or with the head of Human Resources. LO also has a contact for the Workplace Advisory Centre for issues related to alcohol, drugs and addictive gambling in the workplace (AKAN) to talk to if you yourself have problems, or if you find the use of intoxicants by others to be problem. LO has routines for following up such cases.

Sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual assaults and sexual services
It is illegal to purchase sexual services. This prohibition applies both in Norway and abroad. Elected officers, employees or others who represent LO shall not purchase sexual services or accept sexual services in exchange for material benefits or for other privileges or in other ways behave in a sexually offensive manner towards others. This also applies in leisure time when not performing duties for LO.

No one who represents LO shall behave in a sexually offensive manner towards other people. LO takes a serious view of all types of sexual assaults, sexual exploitation and harassment. The term 'sexual assault' refers to procuring sexual services or other sexual relations involving violent or threatening behaviour or attempts at same. The term 'sexual exploitation' refers to procuring for oneself or others sexual relations by abusing one's position, a dependent relationship or a relationship of trust or by exploiting someone's vulnerability, or attempts at same. The term 'sexual harassment' involves words or actions of a sexually explicit nature that cause the person exposed to them to feel violated. Sexual harassment is characterised by the fact that it is unwanted. The person exposed to words or actions is the one who decides whether they can be accepted or are offensive and thereby unwanted.

Sexual acts with minors (individuals under the age of 18) shall not occur, regardless of the local age of majority and/or the local age of consent. Ignorance or misperception of the child's age offers no excuse from liability.
LO shall ensure that the party who maintains s/he has been exposed to sexual offences will be heard, and, if need be, followed up and cared for after that the matter has been brought to light.

The party accused of subjecting someone to such violations shall also be allowed to put forward his/her account of what happened.
If you experience that colleagues or others behave in a manner that is sexually offensive, report this to your immediate superior, or to the Human Resources Department. The procurement of sexual services and sexual assaults shall always be reported to the Human Resources Department.

Searching, using and downloading data on LO's ICT equipment

When downloading files, it is assumed that Norwegian law and LO's guidelines will be followed. You are not to search/download material that you know, or should know, contains illegal material. This also applies to breaches of copyright (texts, images and software), attempts at hacking or other unauthorised attempts to access to other information systems.

Everyone must exercise caution and use only the software programs that have been approved and installed by the ICT Section. This is embodied in LO's ICT Instructions.

Use of social media
LO employees have an important role to play in conveying information about the organisation's values, goals and activities. We want employees who are active, clear and have a mindful attitude to social media. LO has a social media strategy.

LO's rules, legislation and principles regarding confidentiality, the protection of privacy, freedom of expression and the duty to act in good faith also apply when you act on social media in your capacity as a private person.

About conflicts of interest, disqualification and confidentiality


The organisation's employees and elected officers are to avoid conflicts between their own interests and the interests of the organisation. Consequently, no one is to participate in or seek to exert influence on matters where special conditions exist that lend themselves to undermining confidence in the independence or impartiality of the person in question. Such conditions arise when the employee him/herself or related parties have a direct or indirect interest in a matter.

If you believe or are in doubt as to whether you are biased, inform your immediate superior of this without delay, so that an assessment can be made of whether you should recuse yourself from dealing with the matter in question. There is nothing wrong with disqualifying yourself as long as you are open about it and an assessment is made in each individual case.

Employment outside the organisation

While employed by LO, employees must not have another position or perform other paid employment of any significance, if LO, after reasonable consideration, concludes that the additional work will affect their work or by other means be detrimental for LO. Speak with your immediate superior if you are considering accepting an office that could affect your performance.

Duty of confidentiality

Employees and elected officers have a duty of confidentiality and must not pass on information in any form about matters with which they are working or become privy to, in a manner that could harm LO.

Throughout your term of employment or office, a duty of full confidentiality shall apply to all trade secrets and other information about technical, administrative and business-related matters to which you become privy through your work at LO. Examples of such matters may be knowledge about internal affairs, personal information, information about political processes, information that could affect share prices or other information about other undertakings and enterprises. Employees and elected officers shall also exercise caution in discussing other conditions to which they might become privy or experience during their work and that cannot be considered public knowledge, and they shall exercise care in dealing with such information.

You are also prohibited, directly or indirectly, from sharing information about such matters with a third party. The term "third party" also includes other employees of LO who do not need or are not entitled to receive the information to which this refers. Certain employees and groups in LO are subject to a statutory duty of confidentiality.

The duty of confidentiality also applies after the employee or elected officer no longer works for LO.

The duty of confidentiality is not limited to purely professional experiences from working at or on assignments for LO.

Contract labour and individuals who represent LO on business trips are also subject to the duty of confidentiality regarding circumstances they become aware of while on assignment for LO.

LO has drawn up special instructions for the protection of privacy.

Good faith

  • We expect employees to be loyal to LO as an organisation.
    Breach of the duty to act in good faith may, for example, occur if:
    An employee expresses an opinion to the outside world that is strongly critical of or based on unsound information about his or her employer's activities in a manner that could grossly undermine LO's reputation.
  • An employee fails to mention to his or her employer circumstances or a situation outside the work relationship that can create difficulties in the working relationship.
  • An employee fails to help clear up any irregularities in the working relationship.
  • An employee promotes his/her own business interests at the expense of those of the employer.


International affairs

Employees and elected officers at LO and others who represent LO shall respect a host country's laws, culture and religion.

In many cases, the requirements in LO's ethical standards are the same as those found in national legislation and regulations. Where the provisions in national legislation and the requirements in our ethical standards differ, the highest standard shall apply. LO sets high standards for our partners and we expect them to behave in an ethically responsible manner.

Gifts and other financial advantages, and corruption

LO sets high standards for integrity and business ethics both in-house and externally in Norway and abroad. An employee is not entitled to ask for or receive any kind of financial advantages - directly or indirectly - on the occasion of or in connection with LO's business. LO is opposed to bribery and corruption. Norway's general civil penal code defines corruption as follows: Norway's general civil penal code defines corruption as giving/offering (active corruption), or requesting/receiving/accepting (passive corruption) an improper advantage in connection with a position, office or assignment. Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

LO has special ethical Guidelines for the Procurement of Goods and Services and for Financial Management.

LO's financial affairs and internal control are organised to counter corruption and other financial irregularities, including theft, embezzlement, fraud and the misappropriation of funds. We also require that our partners can document that they have adequate systems for exposing corruption and breaches.

Corruption, LO's anti-corruption routines

All employees and elected officers undertake to familiarise themselves with LO's anti-corruption routines that are attached to LO's ethical guidelines. LO's anti-corruption routines can be found here.

Gifts and other financial advantages

  • Elected officers, employees or others who represent LO shall neither directly nor indirectly accept discounts on personal purchases, payments, gifts, travel, stays or other advantages from the organisation's business associates when this:
    is not in keeping with recognised business-related hospitality or consideration,
  • is not of a modest scope in terms of value and frequency (typically, a bouquet of flowers)
  • cannot be considered suitable in terms of time and place
  • for other reasons can be envisaged to have an adverse influence on how the person in question behaves on behalf of the organisation

You shall not accept gifts (this may in some cases also be invitations to e.g. sports and cultural events) that have a value greater than NOK 500. If special circumstances dictate that you must, out of courtesy, for example, accept such gifts on behalf of LO, take them to the Financial Affairs Department at LO and have them registered in accordance with the tax authorities' rules.

If elected officers, employees or others who represent LO or closely related parties are offered a personal advantage in excess of these parameters, or if you are in doubt about this, discuss it with your immediate superior.
Elected officers, employees or others who represent LO shall neither directly nor indirectly have personal business-related connections with suppliers or other partners from which the organisation buys goods or services, or provides financial support to, without the consent of a superior.

No elected officers or employees or others who represent LO shall offer or provide unlawful or unjustified financial or other advantages to or for public employees.

Also, you are not to offer or provide unlawful or unjustified financial or other advantages to employees of customers, in order to obtain or retain business-related advantages.

The above-mentioned entails inter alia that it is not legal to take advantage of special procedures when dealing with subcontractors, purchase orders, consultancy agreements, etc. in order to transfer unlawful or unwarranted financial or other advantages.

In situations where doubt arises about this, always contact your immediate superior or the head of the Financial Affairs Department for clarification.

Raising concerns (whistleblowing)

LO has a system for raising concerns, and has drawn up guidelines that are familiar internally at LO. The procedure for raising concerns will be the same whether you are contract labour or represent LO.

If you believe there are circumstances worthy of criticism in the organisation, you are urged to raise a concern, so that the organisation's leadership is alerted to this, and gets a chance to implement necessary corrective measures.

What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing involves reporting concerns to someone who can do something about the situation. Circumstances worthy of criticism include breaches of statutory provisions, breaches of internal rules or breaches of the ethical guidelines. You can always discuss issues with or report concerns to your immediate superior or other functionaries such as the safety delegate, the head of Human Resources or the chief financial officer before dealing with an issue as a whistleblowing matter.

Whistleblowing is a positive act

Whistleblowing is good for LO and for the community, since circumstances worthy of criticism can be corrected.

Employees who are willing to raise concerns in a responsible manner are an important resource for LO.

The right and the obligation to raise concerns

The individual employee is urged to exercise his/her right to raise concerns, since that can help LO to develop in a positive manner.

Employees and elected officers have a duty to report criminal offences and circumstances in which life and/or health are at risk.

Follow up of whistleblowing

The in-house whistleblowing bodies involved shall work with the leadership (where expedient) to decide how to clear up concerns that have been reported. Circumstances worthy of criticism are to be cleared up.

The whistle blower shall always receive feedback within a week.
If it turns out that the criticism is without foundation or based on a misunderstanding, the whistle blower shall receive a proper explanation.
Leadership is also responsible for protecting individuals subjected to groundless criticism.

All information generated when a concern is raised shall be treated with regard for the protection of privacy pursuant to current legislation and regulations.

The whistle blower shall not be punished

The Working Environment Act affords protection against reprisals to all those who report concerns. An employee always has the right to report concerns pursuant to the notification requirement or LO's reporting routines. The same applies to reporting concerns to supervisory bodies or other government authorities.

Whistle blowers who experience reprisals for raising concerns must notify their trade union representatives, safety delegates, department managers or the elected leadership, who shall deal with the matter immediately.

Who should you notify?

The case and the situation will determine how notification should best be handled. Here is the point of departure for what we believe is most appropriate for LO.

  • You can report circumstances worthy of criticism to:
    A responsible leader or body: Basically, everyone must be able to notify his or her immediate superior or the body responsible for the subject of the concern.
  • Safety delegate/chief safety delegate: All concerns can be reported to the safety delegate/chief safety delegat.
  • The head of HR, shop stewards or company doctors (A-MED): All employee issues can be reported to them.
  • The chair of the Working Environment Committee, safety delegate or chief safety delegate: All concerns relating to the working environment can be reported to any of them.
  • Chief financial officer: Breaches of tax rules or rules regarding bribery/corruption can be reported to the chief financial officer.
  • Executive leadership of LO: If the whistle blower does not get a reaction or feedback, the whistle blower is urged to inform the elected leadership of LO.
  • External whistleblowing

Our organisation has made it possible to report alerts in-house in a satisfactory manner. At the same time, individuals always have the right to take relevant matters to oversight bodies.

Ref: §2.4 – 2.5 of the Working Environment Act


Employees and elected officers who are in breach of the ethical guidelines must expect reactions on the part of the organisation. If LO employees breach the ethical guidelines, this will be handled as an employee issue, and it can end with a warning, dismissal or discharge, depending on the severity of the breach. Elected officers can be suspended by the secretariat, pursuant to LO's Articles of Association.

For those who represent LO on assignment or on a business trip, breach of the ethical guidelines could entail other types of reactions such as claims for financial compensation and it could have consequences for further cooperation.

Violations of the law shall be reported.

Cases of doubt and matters of principle importance shall be decided by the organisation's president.