Norway

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Working Environment Act is the key federal legislation that governs employment and workplace relations in Norway and applies to Norwegian employers. The Working Environment Act 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 ensuring an acceptable working environment.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

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

 

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

      • semi-continuous shift work and comparable rotational work,
      • work on two shifts which are regularly carried out on Sundays and public holidays and comparable rotational work regularly carried out on Sundays and public holidays,
      • work which necessitates that individual employees work at least every third Sunday,
      • work principally performed at night.

Normal working hours must not exceed nine hours per 24 hours and 36 hours per seven days in the case of:

        • continuous shift work and comparable rotational work,
        • work below ground in mines, tunneling, and blasting of rock chambers below ground.

In the case of three-shift rotation not covered by the above and which entail that individual employees are required to work at least every third Sunday, 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. Normal working hours must regardless not exceed nine hours per 24 hours and 38 hours per 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.

 

Account of working hours

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.

 

Passive / Casual Workers

In the case of work that is wholly or mainly of a passive nature, working hours may be extended by up to one-half of the passive periods, but not by more than 2 hours per 24-hour day and 10 hours per seven days. When the work is particularly passive, the Labor Inspection Authority may consent to the extension of working hours, provided that working hours do not exceed 13 hours during a period of 24 hours.  Normal working hours must not exceed 48 hours per 7 days.

 

Stand By Duty

In the case of standby duty outside the workplace, at least 1/17th of such standby duty shall as a general rule 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 10-13 Working Environment Act.

 

Calculating the Average Normal Working Hours

The employer and the employee may in writing agree that normal working hours may be arranged in such a way that, on average, during a period not exceeding 52 weeks, they are no longer than the normal working hour, but that the total working hours do not exceed 10 hours per 24 hours and 48 hours per 7 days. The limit of 48 hours per seven days may be calculated on the basis of a fixed average over a period of eight weeks provided that normal working hours do not exceed 50 hours in any one week. 

 

The employer and the employees’ elected representatives in undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement may in writing agree that normal working hours shall be arranged in such a way that on average, during a period not exceeding 52 weeks, they are no longer than 9 hours in a 24 hour period and 38 hours in 7 days. But individually the normal working hours do not exceed 12 ½ hours per 24 hours and 48 hours per seven days. The limit of 48 hours per 7 days may be calculated according to a fixed average over a period of eight weeks provided, however, that normal working hours do not exceed 54 hours in any one week. When entering into an agreement involving normal working hours exceeding 10 hours per 24 hours, particular regard shall be paid to the employees’ health and welfare.

 

The Labor Inspection Authority may ( with agreement from employees elected representatives) consent to normal working hours that on average, during a period not exceeding 26 weeks, are no longer than 9 hours per 24 hours and 38 hours per 7 days,  but that the total working hours individually, do not exceed 13 hours per 24 hours and 48 hours per 7 days. The limit of 48 hrs per 7 days may be calculated according to a fixed average over a period of 8 weeks. Section 10-5 Working Environment Act.

Overtime

Work beyond the agreed working hours must not be carried out without a specific and time-limited need for it. Overtime work must not exceed 10 hours in seven days, 25 hours for four consecutive weeks, and 200 hours within a period of 52 weeks.

 

Employers and employees’ elected representatives in activities that are bound by a collective agreement may, in writing, make overtime work up to 20 hours within seven days, but so that total overtime work does not exceed 50 hours in four consecutive weeks. Overtime work must not exceed 300 hours within a period of 52 weeks.

 

Total working hours must not exceed 13 hours per 24 hours or 48 hours per seven days. The limit of 48 hours per seven days may be calculated according to a fixed average over a period of eight weeks.

 

The Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority may, in special cases based on agreement, permit total overtime work up to 25 hours for seven days and 200 hours during a period of 26 weeks.

 

Overtime Pay

For overtime work, an allowance shall be paid for the salary the employee has for similar work in the normal working hours. The supplement should be at least 40 percent. Employer and employee may in writing agree that overtime hours in full or in part shall be taken in the form of work time off at an agreed time. Section 10-6 Working Environment Act.

Night Work

Work between the hours of 9.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. is night work. In undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement, the employer and the employee’s elected representatives may in writing decide another period of at least eight hours including the hours between 12.00 midnight and 6.00 a.m. Work in two shifts that fall between the hours of 6.00 a.m. and 12.00 midnight is not regarded as night work.

 

Night work is not permitted unless necessitated by the nature of the work. The employer and the employee may enter into a written agreement that the employee, on his own initiative, may perform work between 9.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m.

 

The employer and the employee’s elected representatives may enter into a written agreement concerning night work when there is an exceptional and time-limited need for it.

 

Normal working hours for an employee who regularly works more than three hours at night, shall on average not exceed eight hours per 24 hours. The average shall be calculated over four weeks. The minimum period for a weekly off-duty time as given under Sunday Work, shall not be included in the calculation of the average. The employer and the employee’s elected representatives at undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement may agree in writing if the duration of night work is to increase. In such a case, the employees shall be ensured corresponding compensatory rest periods or, where this is not possible, other appropriate protection.

 

Working hours for an employee who works more than three hours at night shall not exceed eight hours per 24 hours if the work involves an exceptional risk or considerable physical or mental strain. Section 10-11 Working Environment Act.

Breaks

An employee shall have at least one break if the daily working hours exceed 5 hours and 30 minutes. The breaks shall collectively amount to at least 30 minutes if the daily working hours total at least eight hours. 

 

When the employee is not free to leave the workplace during the break or where there is no satisfactory break room, the break shall be regarded as part of the working hours. When conditions so necessitate, the break may be postponed.

 

When an employee works more than two hours after normal working hours, the employee shall be allowed a break of at least 30 minutes. The break is regarded as part of the working hours. Breaks that come after the end of ordinary working hours shall be subject to remuneration as overtime but shall not be included in the number of hours it is permitted to work overtime. When conditions so necessitate, the break may be reduced or postponed. Section 10-9 Working Environment Act.

 

Breastfeeding Breaks

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

 

Women with time off for breastfeeding pursuant to the first paragraph are entitled during the child’s first year to pay for a maximum of 1 hour on workdays with agreed working hours of 7 hours or more. Section 12.8 Working Environment Act. Amended by Law 7 June 2013 No. 27 (January 1, 2014, according to June 7, 2013 No. 590.

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

No work shall be performed from 6.00 p.m. on the day preceding a Sunday or public holiday until 10.00 p.m. on the day preceding the next working day. On Christmas Eve, and on 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.

 

Work on Sundays and public holidays are not permitted unless necessitated by the nature of the work.

 

Before imposing work on Sundays and public holidays, the employer shall discuss the need for such work with the employees’ elected representatives.

 

In undertakings bound by a collective pay agreement, the employer and the employee’s elected representatives may enter into a written agreement concerning work on Sundays and public holidays when there is an exceptional and time-limited need for it. An employee who works on Sundays may claim time off either on Sunday immediately preceding or on Sunday immediately following his holiday. This only applies, however, when a period of the holiday is taken comprising at least 6 working days.

 

Employees who are needed to work a Sunday generally are allowed the following Sunday off. 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 3rd week. Section 10-8, 10-10 Working Environment Act.

Public Holidays

Norwegian law establishes 12 public holidays for which employees are excused from work:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • Maundy Thursday (Thursday before Easter)
  • Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
  • Easter Monday (the day after Easter)
  • Labour Day (May 1);
  • May 17: Constitution Day
  • Ascension Day (sixth Thursday after Easter)
  • Monday after Pentecost
  • Dec. 25: Christmas Day
  • Dec. 26: Boxing Day

No work shall be performed from 6.00 p.m. on the day preceding a Sunday or public holiday until 10.00 p.m. on the day preceding the next working day. Work on public holidays is not permitted unless necessitated by the nature of the work. On Christmas Eve, and on 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.

 

An employee who has worked on a public holiday shall be off duty on the following public holiday. 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, provided, however, that the weekly 24-hour off-duty period falls on a Sunday or public holiday at least every fourth week.

 

Before imposing work on public holidays, the employer shall discuss the need for such work with the employees’ elected representatives.

 

Work on public holidays is not permitted unless necessitated by the nature of the employment. Public holidays that fall on a weekend are not moved to a weekday. 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.

 

On public holidays between 06:00 and 13:00, it is not permitted to arrange or hold public events or performances, sports competitions, and sports conventions. Section 2 & 3 of Law on Holidays and Holiday Peace, Section 10-8 Working Environment Act.

Annual Leave

Employers are obliged to ensure that employees have 25 working days’ leave in connection with holidays each holiday year. All day’s count as working days except Sundays and public holidays. 

 

Employees are entitled to take 3 weeks of their annual leave during the period between June 1 and Sept. 30, however, and may take the remainder in one period. As a general rule, all annual leave must be taken in one calendar year, although the parties may agree in writing that up to 12 days of annual leave ( 2 weeks) may be carried over to the following year.

 

The holiday year is the calendar year. The qualifying year for holiday pay is the preceding calendar year.

 

A new employee hired no later than Sept. 30 of a holiday year is entitled to the full amount of annual leave for that year, an employee who starts work at a later date is entitled to 6 days. A new employee may only demand this holiday insofar as it is shown that he has not already had full holidays from another employer earlier in the holiday year.

 

An employee may demand that the time from the end of work before a holiday to the return to work after the holiday shall amount to at least 16 hours altogether in addition to the length of holiday pursuant to the provisions above. This only applies, however, when a period of the holiday is taken comprising at least 18 working days.

 

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 previous year. The holiday year is the calendar year. The qualifying year for holiday pay is the preceding calendar year.

 

Pay earned in the employment of an employer during the preceding qualifying year is paid on the last normal payday before the holiday. An employee may nevertheless demand payment of holiday pay at the latest 1 week before the beginning of the holiday.

 

The right to the holiday is not linked to the right to holiday pay. 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 a holiday to the extent that the holiday pay does not cover up for the loss of salary.

 

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.

 

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 of 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 another compulsory service

An employer may not without the employee’s consent to 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 age 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

An employee who is pregnant is entitled to leave in connection with a pregnancy check if such medical investigations cannot reasonably take place outside of working hours. A pregnant employee is entitled to leave of absence for up to 12 weeks during pregnancy.

After giving birth, the mother shall have a leave of absence for the first 6 weeks unless she produces a medical certificate stating that it is better for her to resume work. The payment benefits for such leaves are paid by National Insurance.  Section 12-1 Working Environment Act.,Section 12- 2 & 4 Working Environment Act.

Parental Leave

Parents shall be entitled to leave of absence pursuant to pregnancy and maternity for a total of 12 months. These 12 months include the mother’s right to leave for up to 12 weeks during the pregnancy and six weeks of leave reserved for the mother after the birth.

In addition, to 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 parents’ leave of absence. An employee who has partial leave of absence is nevertheless not entitled to 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 leave of absence pursuant to the second paragraph for a period of up to two 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. Section 12-5 Working Environment Act.

Partial Leave

Leave of absence under maternity leave & parental Leave), may be taken as 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.

Leave of Absence to Care for a Child

In connection with childbirth, the father is entitled to 2 weeks’ 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.

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 a sick child,
      • if a child shall be accompanied to a medical examination or other follow-ups in connection with sickness, or
      • if the person responsible for the daily childcare is sick or has left 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 his or her 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 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.

An employee is regardless entitled to leave of absence when care allowance, attendance allowance, or training allowance is paid by the National Insurance. An employee who has sole responsibility for the care of a child shall be entitled to twice the number of days of leave. 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 the 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. Section 12-9 Working Environment Act.

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 four 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.

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. Education in addition to primary or secondary education must be vocationally related to entitlement to leave. 

Occupational education includes all types of labor market-relevant continuing 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. Employees who wish to use the right to education leave must notify the employer in writing of this. Section 12-11 Working Environment Act.

Leave to Care for Dying Relative

An employee taking care of a close relative in the home who is terminally ill is entitled to 20 days’ leave for that purpose.

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, inhabitants, 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.  Section 12-10 Working Environment Act.

Leave for Official Duties

An employee is entitled to a leave of absence to the extent necessary to comply with statutory requirements regarding attendance in public bodies. Section 12-13 Working Environment Act.

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. Employees who wish to take religious leave must provide 14 days’ notice to the employer. Section 27 a of the Act of 13 June 1969 No. 25 relating to religious communities, etc; Section 12-15 Working Environment Act.

Leave for Military Service

Employees are entitled to 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 so soon as possible after entering into a binding agreement on service in such forces, notifies the employer.

Employees wishing to continue in posting shall notify the employer before the service commences. The employer is not obliged to return the employee to work until one month after receipt of notice of the date from which the employee can resume work. Section 12-12 Working Environment Act.

Last updated on: July 29th, 2020