Working hours and overtime in Norway

The Norwegian Working Environment Act regulates overtime and the calculation of general working hours. It is important that the employer calculates working hours in accordance with the law and pay correct overtime fees.

What is general and agreed working hours?

The general rule in Norway is that any work exceeding general working hours as stated in the Working Environment Act is counted as overtime. In accordance with the Working Environment act general working hours are:

  • 40 hours per seven days
  • Nine hours per 24 hours

Some employments have lower limits for working hours than the above mentioned, either in accordance with a collective agreement, or in accordance with the law.

Many employers have also agreed upon lower limits for working hours than the general rule with their employees. This is typically 37,5 working hours per week, instead of 40 hours. Employers are not allowed to agree upon higher limits for working hours than the general rule.

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What is overtime?

Overtime is either working hours that exceeds the general working hours as stated in the Working Environment Act of 40 hours per week, or overtime as agreed in an employment contract,

Daily or weekly working hours that are lower than those listed in the Working Environment Act will not count as overtime. This could occur if the employee is not in a full-time position, or in cases where it is agreed that the general working hours are 37,5 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week.

What is “extra work”?

Work exceeding agreed working hours but still lower than the general rule stated in the Working Environment Act is called “extra work”. This is typically the hours between 37,5 hours and the general rule of 40 hours per week. Extra work is not overtime. The employee can only receive overtime pay after 37,5 hours if it is agreed that extra work shall be paid correspondingly as overtime.

If extra work is incorrectly calculated as overtime your business risks of paying unnecessary overtime to your employees.

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Overtime pay

The Working Environment Act states that overtime must be paid with an additional minimum of 40 precent.

The employee is not allowed to waive the right to overtime pay. The employee can agree to take time off in lieu of unpaid overtime if this is agreed in writing. Overtime pay must however be paid to the employee.

When is overtime legal?

Both overtime and extra work is legal when there is a particular need for it, and it is time limited.

This is typically when the business, due to unforeseen events, has an increased work pressure. For example, in the events of high absence among employees or with seasonal employment.

It is not allowed to have overtime as a fixed part of the company`s working hours.


Discussion duty

The necessity of overtime and extra work must be discussed with the employee’s representative before it can be initiated.

Collective agreement

Be aware that other regulations for overtime can apply if your business is part of a collective agreement.

Feel free to contact us at any time.

Find out more about our services on our webpage: Labour law in Norway