Adecco to pay millions back to Oslo

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Recruitment and human resources firm Adecco has been asked to pay NOK 23.7 million (USD 4.4 million) back to the City of Oslo after a scandal regarding working conditions at state nursing homes run under contract by the company.

Adecco’s health division, Adecco Helse, had their contracts in Oslo and many other parts of Norway cancelled after media investigations revealed that Adecco had fallen foul of labour laws at a number of its nursing homes, as well as in other sectors in which it operates. The scandal has led to full scale investigations of the entire private care sector, and a number of resignations within Adecco itself.

The demand for repayment comes in the wake of an independent investigation for the city council, led by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), into the two former Adecco-run nursing homes in Oslo. The report found that Adecco had used less personnel, and personnel with a lower competence, than agreed in their contract with the council, and for that reason the council is demanding money back, including the costs of the report itself. Furthermore, many of the breaches of the contract and employment law were planned and documented by Adecco, the report found.

The city council’s leader in charge of services for the elderly, Cecilie Brein, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that a lack of personnel, particularly skilled personnel, “increases the risks for patients.” She believes that the PwC study reveals that the breaches of labour regulations and contracts with Oslo were worse than originally thought when the scandal first broke. Brein also said that the council will “sit down and look at why we didn’t manage to find this out earlier.”

The council is also holding back NOK 11.2 million (USD 2.1 million) until Adecco reimburses its former employees for unpaid holiday pay (amounting to NOK 2 million, or USD 369,000, altogether), underpayment of overtime or incorrect payment of pension contributions. Adecco Norway’s CEO, Anders Øwre-Johnsen, confirmed to NRK that the money would be paid back “if it is shown that the preliminary calculations are correct,” adding that the process of repaying former workers “has already started.” The company is also waiting for its own self-appointed external investigation into the scandal.

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