Last updated on: August 19th, 2021
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
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.
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.
Norway does not have a statutory minimum wage, but minimum wages are often addressed in collective agreements.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).