Norway

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Working Environment Act is the key federal legislation that governs employment and workplace relations in Norway. The Working Environment Act 2005 (last amended 2021) applies to all employees, with the exception of seafaring and fisheries, which are regulated by separate regulations. The Act contains provisions about employers and employees’ obligations with respect to working hours, overtime, holiday & leaves. 

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Normal working hours must not exceed 9 hours in 24 hours and 40 hours in 7 days.

 

Normal working hours must not exceed 9  hours in 24 hours and 38 hours in 7 days for:

      • 24 hours shift work and comparable shift work,
      • work in two shifts that are regularly run on Sundays and weekends, and comparable shift work that is regularly run on Sundays and weekends,
      • work which requires that the individual employee must work at least every third Sunday,
      • work carried out mainly at night.

The normal working hours must not exceed 9 hours in 24 hours and 36 hours in 7 days for:

        • fully continuous shift work and comparable shift work,
        • underground work in mines, tunnel operation, and blasting of underground rock caverns.

For employees working 3 shift rotation: The normal working hours shall be reduced by regarding each hour worked on Sundays and public holidays, as equal to 1 hour and 10 minutes, and each hour worked during the night, as equal to 1 hour and 15 minutes, down to 36 hours per seven days. This is also applicable for employees who are required to work at least every third Sunday. Normal working hours must not exceed nine hours per 24 hours and 38 hours per seven days.

 

Averaging of Working Hours

The employer and employee may agree in writing that the normal working hours may be arranged so that during a period not exceeding 52 weeks, the working hours do not exceed an average of 10 hours in 24 hours and 48 hours in seven days. The limit of 48 hours in the course of 7 days can be calculated on a fixed average over a period of  8 weeks, however, the normal working hours shall not exceed 50 hours in any single week. 

 

Employers and employees’ elected representatives in activities may, in writing, agree that the normal working hours shall be arranged so that during a period not exceeding 52 weeks, on average, they do not exceed 12.5 hours in 24 hours and 48 hours in 7 days. The 48-hour limit within seven days can be calculated on a fixed average over a period of 8 weeks, yet the normal working time does not exceed 54 hours in any single week. By entering into an agreement that implies that the normal working time exceeds 10 hours within 24 hours, particular attention shall be paid to the consideration of the health and welfare of employees.

 

The Labor Authority may agree that the normal working hours during a period not exceeding 26 weeks will on average not exceed 13 hours during 24 hours and 48 hours in seven days. The limit of 48 hours can be calculated on a fixed average over a period of 8 weeks. 

 

In the case of work that is wholly or mainly of a passive nature, working hours may be extended but not more than 2 hours per 24-hour day and 10 hours per seven days. 

 

The Labor Authority may, when the work is particularly passive, give consent to the working hours being extended beyond what is stipulated above, but so that the working hours do not exceed 13 hours in the course of 24 hours. Normal working hours must not exceed 48 hours in seven days.

 

Work Schedule

If the employees work at different times of the day, a work schedule shall be prepared showing which weeks, days, and times each employee is to work. The work schedule shall be prepared in cooperation with the employees’ elected representatives. Unless otherwise provided by a collective pay agreement, the work schedule shall be discussed with the employees’ elected representatives as early as possible and, at the latest, two weeks prior to its implementation. The work schedule shall be easily accessible to the employees.

 

Stand By Duty

In the case of standby duty outside the workplace, at least 1/7th of such standby duty shall be included in the ordinary working hours depending on how burdensome the duty scheme is.  The employer and the employees’ elected representatives in undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement may by written agreement provide for a different arrangement. Section 10-1 to 10-5 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

 

Recording Requirement

An account shall be kept of the hours worked by each employee. This account shall be accessible to the Labour Inspection Authority and the employees’ elected representatives. Section 10-7 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Overtime

When the normal working hour of an employee exceeds the statutory limit, the excess is considered overtime work. Overtime work must not exceed 10 hours during a period of 7 days, 25 hours for 4 consecutive weeks, and 200 hours within a period of 52 weeks.

 

The employer and the employees’ representative bound by a collective agreement may agree in writing on overtime work for up to 20 hours during 7 days, but so that the total overtime work does not exceed 50 hours for 4 consecutive weeks. Overtime work must not exceed 300 hours within a period of 52 weeks.

 

The Labor Authority may, upon application in special cases, allow total overtime work for up to 25 hours during a period of 7 days and 200 hours during a period of 26 weeks. 

 

Total working time must not exceed 13 hours in 24 hours or 48 hours in seven days. The limit of 48 hours in the course of seven days can be calculated on average over a period of eight weeks, so that the total working time according to averaging of working hours, including the overtime, does not exceed 69 hours in any single week.

 

The employer and the employees’ representative in activities that are bound by a collective agreement may agree in writing to derogate from the limit of 13 hours, but so that the total working hours do not exceed 16 hours within 24 hours. In that case, the employee must be guaranteed corresponding compensatory rest periods.

 

Pay – For overtime work, a premium shall be paid along with the regular rate of pay. The premium must be at least 40 %. On the basis of an agreement in writing between the employer and the employee the hours worked in overtime shall be taken in full or in part in the form of compensatory rest at an agreed time. Section 10-6 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Night Work

Work between 9 pm and 6 am is considered night work. The employer and the employee’s representative via collective agreement may stipulate in writing another period of at least 8 hours, which includes the time between 12 am and 6 am. Night work is not permitted unless the nature of the work makes it necessary.

 

The employer and the employee may enter into a written agreement that the employees, on their own initiative, may perform work between 9.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m. The normal working hours must not exceed 9 hours in 24 hours and 38 hours in 7 days for work that is mainly conducted at night.

 

The normal working hours of an employee who regularly works more than 3 hours at night shall not, on average, exceed 8 hours in the course of 24 hours. The average should be calculated over four weeks. The minimum period of weekly rest shall not be included in the calculation of the average.

 

The working hours of an employee who works more than 3 hours at night shall not exceed 8 hours in the course of 24 hours if the work involves a particular risk or significant physical or mental strain.

 

The employer and the employee’s representative via a collective agreement may agree in writing to deviate from the average hours of night work or the maximum hours of night work.  In that case, the employees must be guaranteed corresponding compensatory rest periods, or, where this is not possible, other appropriate protection.  Section 10-11 and 10 – 4 (4) Working Environment Act. 2005 (last amended 2021).

Breaks

An employee whose working hours exceed 5.5 hours is entitled to at least one break. When the daily working hours are at least 8 hours, employees shall be entitled to a break of at least 30 minutes. If the employee is not free to leave the workplace during the break or where there is no satisfactory break room, the break shall be counted as part of the working hours. When conditions make it necessary, the break can be postponed.

 

When an employee works more than 2 hours after the normal working hours have been terminated, the employee shall be given another break of at least 30 minutes. The break is considered part of the working hours.  When the break is taken post-normal working hours it is reimbursed as overtime, but the break time is not considered as hours worked towards the overtime thresholds. When conditions make it necessary, the break can be shortened or shifted. Section 10-9 Working Environment Act.

 

Daily Rest

An employee shall have at least 11 consecutive hours off work within 24 hours. The non-working period shall be placed between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next shift. Section 10-8 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

 

Weekly Rest

An employee shall have a continuous off from work for a period of 35 hours every 7 days.

 

The employer and the employees’ representative in activities that are bound by a collective agreement may agree in writing to derogate from the period defined above. Such an agreement can only be entered into if the employee is guaranteed corresponding compensatory rest periods or, where this is not possible, other appropriate protection. 

 

A shorter period of absence than 8 hours cannot be agreed upon per 24 hours. The limit of 8 hours does not apply when work beyond the agreed working hours or work on-call during stand-by duty outside the workplace is necessary to avoid serious operational disruptions. 

 

Weekly rest shall as far as possible include Sunday. An employee who has performed Sunday and weekend work shall be off work on the following Sunday and weekly rest days. The employer and employee may agree in writing on a working time arrangement which, on average, gives the employee time off every other Sunday and weekend over a period of 26 weeks, on the condition, however, that the weekly 24 hours off from work falls on a Sunday or weekend at least every fourth week. Section 10-8 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Work On Rest Days

Employees are entitled to continuous off-duty time of at least 11 hours between shifts and 35 hours per week unless agreed otherwise in a collective agreement.

 

If bound by a collective bargaining agreement, the employer and the employees’ representatives can agree upon exceptions to the 11-hour daily rest rule, but generally, the period can be no shorter than 8 hours. Such an agreement can only be entered into if the employer ensures compensatory rest periods. Less than 8 hours’ rest is possible when work in excess of agreed working hours is necessary to avoid serious disturbances to operations.

Sunday Work

Employees shall not work from 6 pm on the day before a Sunday or weekend until 10 pm on the day before the next working day. On Christmas Eve, Easter and Pentecost, employees shall not work from 3 pm to 10 pm the day before the next working day. Work within these periods is considered Sunday and weekend work.

 

The normal working hours must not exceed 9 hours in 24 hours and 38 hours in 7 days for work in two shifts that are regularly run on Sundays or public holidays, and comparable shift work that is regularly run on Sundays or public holidays.

 

As an exception to this rule, an employer and an employee may agree that the employee will be off-duty on average every other Sunday over a period of 26 weeks, provided that the weekly 24-hour off-duty period falls on a Sunday at least every third week.

 

Compensatory Rest for Sunday Work – The employer and the employee may enter into a written agreement on work on Sundays and weekends, in exchange for corresponding compensatory rest on other days which are equal to a Sunday or public holiday as per the employee’s religion. Section 10-10 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Public Holidays

The following are the 10 public holidays in Norway – 

  • New Year’s Day
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday 
  • First day of Easter
  • The second day of Easter
  • Ascension Day
  • First day of Pentecost
  • The second day of Pentecost
  • First day of Christmas
  • The second day of Christmas

The rules of public holidays also apply to May 1st and May 17th. When May 1 and/or May 17 does not fall on a Sunday or other public holiday, the employer must pay full pay to the employee, even if the employee does not work that day. If the employee has to work these days, the same wage supplement is given as the person in question may be entitled to by agreement or regulation for Sundays.

 

Employees shall not work from 6 pm on the day before a public holiday until 10 pm on the day before the next working day. On Christmas Eve, and on the Saturdays preceding Easter Sunday and Whit Sunday no work shall be performed from 3.00 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. on the day preceding the next working day. Work performed during these periods shall be regarded as work on Sundays and public holidays.

 

On public holidays from 00 hrs to 24 hrs as well as Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas Eve after 4 pm, there shall be public holidays that no one anywhere must disturb with undue noise.

 

In enterprises that are bound by a collective agreement, the employer and the employees’ representative may enter into a written agreement on work on Sundays and public holidays if there is a special and time-limited need for this.

 

The employer and the employee may agree in writing to a working-hour arrangement that ensures that the employees will be off duty on average every other Sunday and public holiday over a period of 26 weeks, on the condition, however, that the weekly 24-hour off-duty period falls on a Sunday or public holiday at least every fourth week.

 

Religious holidays

For employees who, in accordance with their religion, have days other than Norwegian Sundays and public holidays as their public holidays, the employer may enter into an agreement on work on Sundays and public holidays, in exchange for corresponding time off on other days.

 

Compensatory Rest for Work on Holiday

The employer and the employee may enter into a written agreement for work on Public Holiday, in exchange for corresponding compensatory rest on other days which according to the employee’s religion is a public holiday. Any premium pay that employees might earn above their normal wage rate for working on a public holiday is negotiated in collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts. Section 2 & 3 of Law on Holidays and Holiday Peace, Section 10-8 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Annual Leave

All employees are entitled to at least 25 working days of holiday each year. Employees who start employment before 30th September are entitled to 25 working days’ holiday by the end of the calendar year. Employees who start employment after 30 September are entitled to 6 working days’ holiday for that year.

 

An employee may demand to take his main holiday, comprising 18 working days, during the main holiday period, 1 June – 30 September. This does not apply, however, to an employee who takes up his post after 15 August in the holiday year. If a holiday is fixed for the 1 June-30 September period and postponed due to illness, leave of absence, industrial disputes, etc, no claim may be made to take the holiday at a later date in that period. 

 

An employee may take the remaining holiday (7 working days) together within the holiday year. Written agreements may be entered into concerning the taking of holidays in advance of up to 12 working days and the transfer of holidays of up to 12 working days to the following holiday year. Holidays in advance and transfers of holidays beyond that limit may not be agreed upon.

 

For the purpose of calculating annual leave, weekdays including Saturdays are working days. Sundays and public holidays are not counted as working days. Normally, 6 working days will correspond to one week.

 

Annual Leave Pay

During annual leave, employees are entitled to a special pay rate equal to 10.2 percent of the employee’s wages in the qualifying year. Annual leave pay must be paid out immediately before the holiday. The holiday year is the calendar year. The qualifying year for holiday pay is the preceding calendar year. Holiday pay earned in the employment is paid on the last normal payday before the holiday. An employee may demand payment of holiday pay at the latest 1 week before the beginning of the holiday.

 

If holidays are divided, holiday pay shall be divided correspondingly. The amount by which holiday pay exceeds wages for normal working hours in the holiday may nevertheless be paid in connection with the taking of the main holiday or together with wages for June. If holiday time has been transferred to the following holiday year, holiday pay in respect of the transferred holiday is only paid when the holiday is taken.

 

As new employees will not have earned the right to holiday pay, the holiday will be unpaid the first year, or with holiday pay from the previous employer. If an employee does not have any holiday pay accrued at a previous employer, the employee can refuse to take holiday to the extent that the holiday pay does not cover up the loss of salary.

 

Payment on Termination of Employment

If the employee is terminated, all annual leave pay entitlements are to be paid on the last payday before the post is vacated. A deduction may be made from the payment amounting to 1.4 percent of the basis for calculating holiday pay earned in the employment if the qualifying year is shortened.

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Annual Leave during absence through illness etc.

An employee who is completely incapacitated for work before his holiday may demand to have the holiday postponed until later in the holiday year. The demand must be supported by a medical certificate and be submitted at the latest on the last working day the employee would have worked before the holiday.

 

An employee who has been completely incapacitated for work during the holiday may demand to have a corresponding number of working days’ holiday postponed and given to him as a new holiday later in the holiday year. The demand must be supported by a medical certificate and be submitted without undue delay after the employee’s return to work.

 

Annual Leave during parental leave

An employer may not without the consent of the employee fix holidays to periods of leave during which parental benefit is being paid by the National Insurance Act. If the period of leave as mentioned coincides with an already fixed holiday, the employee may demand postponement of the number of working days of the holiday included in the period of leave.

 

Annual Leave during military service and other compulsory services

An employer may not without the employee’s consent fix a holiday for a period when the employee is engaged in compulsory service in the Home Guard or Civil Defense or in military reserve training exercises. If compulsory service coincides with a previously fixed holiday, an employee may demand postponement of the number of working days’ holiday spent in such service.

 

Annual Leave during industrial disputes

During a lawful industrial dispute (strike or lockout) holidays may be fixed and required to be taken in accordance with the rules. An employer may not because of a lawful industrial dispute change the dates fixed for a holiday.

 

Annual leave for employees over the age of 60

Employees who reach the age of 60 during a holiday year shall be given 6 working days’ extra holiday. If the extra holiday is divided up, the employee may only demand as many working days off as he normally works in a week. For employees aged 60 or over, annual leave pay is increased by 2.3 percent. Annual leave pay must be paid out immediately before the holiday. Holidays Act, 1988 (as amended), §§ 4-9.

Minimum Wage

Norway does not have a statutory minimum wage, but minimum wages are often addressed in collective agreements.

Special Leave

Maternity Leave

A pregnant employee is entitled to a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks during pregnancy. After giving birth, the mother shall take leave for the first 6 weeks unless she produces a medical certificate stating that it is better for her to resume work. 

 

Pay – The payment benefits for such leaves are paid by National Insurance.

 

Pregnancy check-up – An employee who is pregnant is entitled to paid leave in connection with a pregnancy check if such medical investigations cannot reasonably take place outside of working hours.

 

Breastfeeding Break

A nursing mother is entitled to request the amount of time off necessary for breastfeeding. At least 30 minutes of time off may for example be taken twice daily or as a reduction in working hours by up to 1 hour per day.

 

Employees with a child of up to 1 year who are entitled to a break for breastfeeding are entitled to be paid for a maximum of 1 hour per workday if they agree to work hours of 7 or more hours. Section 12-8 Working Environment Act. Amended by Law 7 June 2013 No. 27 (January 1, 2014, according to June 7, 2013, No. 590.Section 12-1 Working Environment Act.,Section 12- 2 & 4 Working Environment Act.

Parental Leave

Parents are entitled to leave in relation to parental and maternity leave for a total period of 12 months. These 12 months include the mother’s right to leave for up to 12 weeks during the pregnancy and including the  6 weeks of leave reserved for the mother after the birth.

 

In addition to the above 12 months of leave of absence, each of the parents is entitled to leave of absence for up to 12 months for each birth. This leave must be taken immediately after the first leave of absence. An employee who has a partial leave of absence is nevertheless not entitled to a leave of absence.

 

Unless the child is in the care of both parents, the right to leave of absence under parental leave may be exercised by another person taking care of the child. An employee who has sole responsibility for the care of a child shall be entitled to a leave of absence for a period of up to  2 years. 

 

Adoptive parents and foster parents shall be entitled to leave of absence when taking over responsibility for the care of the child. The same shall apply to an employee who has or is assigned parental responsibility for the death of the other parent and has had less than the usual access to the child. The right to leave of absence shall not apply when adopting stepchildren or when the child is over 15 years of age.

 

Pay – The leave is paid for in full by the National Insurance Scheme. Section 12-5 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Partial Leave

Leave of absence under maternity leave & parental leave. Leave may be taken as a partial leave of absence. A partial leave of absence is based upon an agreement between the employer and the employee. A partial leave of absence must be taken within a time frame of three years. Section 12-6 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Leave of Absence to Care for a Child

In connection with childbirth, the father is entitled to 2 weeks paid leave of absence in order to assist the mother. If the parents do not live together, the right to leave of absence may be exercised by another person who assists the mother. Adoptive parents and foster parents shall be entitled to 2 weeks’ leave of absence when taking over responsibility for the care of the child. This shall not apply when adopting stepchildren or when the child is over 15 years of age. Section 12-3 Working Environment Act. 2005 (last amended 2021).

Child’s or Child Guardian’s Sickness Leave

Employees who have children in their care are entitled to leave of absence:

      • when necessary to attend to a sick child,
      • if a child shall be accompanied to a medical examination or another follow-up in connection with sickness, or
      • if the person responsible for the daily childcare is sick or has a leave of absence owing to another child.

The right to leave of absence applies up to and including the calendar year of the child’s 12th birthday. An employee shall be entitled to a maximum of 10 days’ leave of absence per calendar year or a maximum of 15 days if the employee has 3 or more children in their care.

 

If the child has a chronic or long-term illness or disability and there is, therefore, a markedly greater risk of the employee being absent from work, the employee is entitled to a maximum of 20 days’ leave of absence per calendar year. The right to leave of absence applies up to and including the calendar year of the child’s 18th birthday. An employee is similarly entitled to a leave of absence in order to attend training at an approved health institution or public resource center in order to be able to take care of and treat the child.

 

An employee who has responsibility for the care of children shall be entitled to leave of absence if:

        • the child is hospitalized, and the employee resides at the health institution,
        • the child has been discharged from a health institution and the employee must stay at home because the child needs continuous care and attention, or
        • the child is suffering from a life-threatening or other extremely serious sickness or injury.

In the case of leave for hospitalization or stay-at-home care, the age limits are 12 years and 18 years respectively. The right to leave for a child who is suffering from a life-threatening or another extremely serious sickness applies up to and including the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 18, but without regard to age if the child is mentally retarded.

 

An employee who has sole responsibility for the care of a child shall be entitled to twice the number of days of leave (20 days in case of illness or injury of child & 40 days for long-term disability or illness). The same shall apply if there are two persons responsible for such childcare and one of them is prevented for a long period from supervising the child owing to a personal disability, admission to a health institution as a long-term patient, or similar circumstances.

 

Up to half of the days of such leave, each calendar year may be transferred to a mother or father with right of access or to a person with whom the employee lives who does not have responsibility for the care of his or her own children.

 

Pay – An employee is paid by the National Insurance. Section 12-9 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Child Care Leave for Illness

An employee who cares for children is entitled to leave for necessary supervision of the child when it is ill, or if the child is to be followed for medical examination or other follow up in connection with illness, or if the person with the day-to-day child welfare is ill or has to take leave because of another child.

 

The right to leave applies even to the calendar year the child is 12 years old. Employees are entitled to leave until 10 days each calendar year or up to 15 days if the employee cares for more than two children. 

 

If the child has a chronic illness, prolonged illness, or disability and therefore there is a marked increase in the risk of an employee’s absence from work, the employee is entitled to leave for up to 20 days each calendar year. The right to leave applies until the calendar year the child reaches the age of 18. Employees also have the right to leave a permit to participate in training at an approved health institution or public competence center to take care of and treat the child. 

 

An employee who cares for children is entitled to leave if the child is admitted to the health institution and the employee is staying at the health institution, or the child has been hospitalized and the employee must be at home because the child needs continuous supervision and care, or the child has life-threatening or other very serious illness or injury. Employees are entitled to leave when they receive social security benefits, social security benefits, or tuition fees from the National Insurance Scheme. Working Environment Act, 2005 (as amended), §§ 12-9.

Sick Leave

Employees who have been employed for at least 4 weeks before sick leave begins are entitled to 52 weeks of paid sick leave. The employer is responsible for the sick pay for the first 16 days, and after this, the National Insurance scheme takes over. National Insurance pays 100 percent of the employee’s earnings to a maximum of six times the National Insurance base amount. Employers can establish in collective agreements or employment contracts that they will cover the difference between sick pay from the National Insurance and the employee’s full salary for the same or a shorter period. 

 

Employees are entitled to sick pay from the first day of absence, but the cause of the sick leave must be documented by a medical certificate. Section 8 National Insurance Act 1997.

Educational Leave

An employee who has worked for at least 3 years and who has worked for the same employer for the last 2 years shall be entitled to full or partial unpaid leave for up to 3 years in order to attend organized courses of education. 

 

Employees who have had educational leave are not entitled to a new education leave before it has passed twice as long as the duration of the previous leave and at least one year from the previous leave, except for education leave for courses for one month’s duration. Section 12-11 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021). 

Care for Close Relative Leave

Employees who are close to home at the end of life are entitled to leave for 60 days for the care of the individual close relatives. Employees are entitled to leave for up to 10 days each calendar year to provide the necessary care to parents, spouses, cohabitants, or registered partners. The same applies to the necessary care for disabled or chronically ill children from the calendar year after the child has reached the age of 18 when the employee has taken care of the child. 

 

Pay –  An employee is paid by the National Insurance. Section 12-10 Working Environment Act.2005 (last amended 2021).

Leave for Official Duties

An employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence to the extent necessary to comply with statutory requirements regarding attendance in public bodies. Section 12-13 Working Environment Act. 2005 (last amended 2021).

Religious Leave

Employees who are not members of the Church of Norway are entitled to a maximum of 2 days of unpaid leave per year to celebrate religious holidays. Employers may require employees to work extra hours without overtime pay to compensate for the religious leave taken.  Section 27 a of the Act of 13 June 1969 No. 25 relating to religious communities, etc; Section 12-15 Working Environment Act. 2005 (last amended 2021).

Leave for Military Service

Employees are entitled to unpaid leave on duty or voluntary military service or similar public service. The same applies to voluntary service for a total of 24 months in forces organized by Norwegian authorities for participation in international peace operations, if the employee, as soon as possible after entering into a binding agreement on service in such forces, notifies the employer. Section 12-12 Working Environment Act. 2005 (last amended 2021). 

Last updated on: August 19th, 2021