Employee rights in Norway

Did you know that foreign employees posted to Norway are subject to certain and important parts of the Norwegian working environment Act? Find out how your company can fulfil the mandatory requirements.

Employees working in Norway are covered by the Norwegian working environment Act (“arbeidsmiljøloven”), and due to the implementation of the EU directive concerning posted employees, foreign employees posted to Norway are also covered by parts of the legislation. 

The Norwegian Working Environment Act is intended to ensure secure conditions of employment, a safe working environment and a meaningful work situation for all employees. The employer is responsible for complying with the requirements of the Act.

To make sure that the employers comply with the requirements of the Working Environment Act, the Norwegian Authority supervises enterprises. The fines for not complying with the regulations are high. 

Download free guide: Doing business in Norway - a practical guide for foreign enterprises  

Written work agreement

All employees are entitled to a written contract of employment. This is applicable both for permanent and temporary employment. 

It is the employer’s responsibility that a written contract is prepared and signed by both parties. 

The employment contract should contain information on matters of major importance for the employment, and the Act has stated a list of minimum information. 

Also read: All you need to know about the Norwegian tax report system – a-melding  

Working hours

There are limits for how much an employee can work per 24-hours and per week. These limits must be followed, even though the employee agrees to longer working hours. 

The limits for normal working hours are:

  • 9 hours per 24 hours
  • 40 hours per 7 days

If the employee works shifts, nights or Sundays, regular working hours are 38 or 36 hours a week.

The regular working hours may be calculated based on a fixed average as long as the average number of hours worked are within the limit for normal working hours. In certain periods you may work more than the threshold for normal working hours in exchange for working correspondingly fewer hours during other periods. 

The working hours must be stated in the written contract between the employer, and the employee and the employer is obligated to keep accounts of the employee’s working hours. 

Minimum wage

There is no general minimum wage in Norway, but within specific industries, employees are entitled to a minimum wage. 

The minimum wage is stated in generalised applicable collective agreements. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent that foreign workers are subject to poorer pay and working conditions than others. 

The following sectors have generalised applicable collective agreements:

  • Construction
  • The maritime construction industry
  • Agriculture and horticulture
  • Cleaning workers
  • Fish processing enterprises
  • Electricians
  • Freight transport by road
  • Passenger transport by tour bus
  • Hotel, Restaurant and Catering 

Holidays and holiday pay

All employees who start a job before 30 October are entitled to 25 working days’ vacation before the end of the holiday year, irrespective of whether they are entitled to holiday pay or not. 

Those who start a job after 30 October are entitled to six working days’ holiday.

Holiday pay is earned the year before the year the holiday is taken. The payment is calculated based on the employee's salary during the year of accrual.

Minimum holiday pay is set to be 10,2 per cent of the salary paid during one calendar year (4 weeks + 1day). For employees over the age of 60, the rate is 12,5 per cent.

Many employees have an agreement with their employer or are a part of a collective agreement that gives them holiday pay at a rate of 12 per cent of the salary paid during one calendar year (5 weeks). For employees over the age of 60, the corresponding rate is 14,3 per cent. 

More about holiday pay: Calculation and payment of holiday pay in Norway 

Paid and unpaid leave

Employees are in certain cases entitled to paid or unpaid leave of absence. 

The leave could either be paid by the employer or by NAV. In some cases, the payment is made directly to the employee and in other cases as a refund to the employer. 

Examples of paid leave:

  • Pregnancy leave – paid by the employer
  • Maternity and paternity leave – paid by NAV
  • Illness of children and childminders – first 10 days covered by the employer. The employer can then claim a refund from NAV.
  • Hospital stay for a child – paid by NAV
  • Religious festivals for employees not belonging to the Church of Norway – paid by the employer (the employer can set terms to the leave).
  • End-of-life care for a close relative – paid by NAV 

Examples of unpaid leave:

  • Leave for education
  • Military service
  • Essential care for parents, spouse and cohabiting partner or registered partner 

Pension

The employer is required to set up an occupational pension scheme for their employees under specific conditions. 

This requirement covers the following: 

  • Enterprises with at least two employees who both have working hours and salary amounting to 75% or more of a full-time position.
  • Enterprises with at least one employee who has no ownership interests in the enterprise and whose working hours and salary amount to 75% or more of a full-time position.
  • Enterprises with employees who have working hours and salary amounting to 20% or more of a full-time position, provided that they collectively carry out work corresponding to at least two full-time equivalents. 

Employers that have employees who can document A1 sheet (confirmation of National Insurance payment in home country) are exempted from the above-stated pension requirement. 

Insurance

The employer is obligated to sign insurance agreements on behalf of the employees, to make sure that they are covered in case of accident and death related to work.

  • accident insurance (“yrkesskadeforsikring”)
  • life insurance (“livsforsikring”) 

Termination of employment

An employment relationship is usually terminated by a dismissal/resignation by one of the parties. 

In cases of dismissal with notice by the employer, the employer is obligated to comply with strict rules stated in the Act. 

  • The employer must hold a discussion meeting with the employee before dismissing the employee
  • Special requirements apply to the notice of dismissal, for example, the dismissal must be in writing
  • The employer must have reasonable grounds for dismissing the employee
  • Preferential right - An employee who has been dismissed with notice due to downsizing has a preferential right to a new post in the same enterprise within the first year after leaving
  • Periods of notice –  a mutual period of notice of one month applies unless otherwise agreed on in the employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement. The period of notice increases with age and the continuous period of service.
  • The employee has a right to hold negotiations with the employer. The deadline for submitting a demand for negotiations is two weeks after receiving the notice of dismissal.
  • Deadlines for instituting legal proceedings: Legal proceedings must be instituted within 8 weeks of the negotiations with the employer being concluded or of the dismissal taking place. If the employee does not want the job back (only claiming damages), the deadline for instituting legal proceedings is 6 months from the date when the dismissal took place.

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