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The rules for working hours and overtime in Norway
Eirik G Kristoffersen - Associate Lawyer24. May 2023 2 min read

The rules for working hours and overtime in Norway

In Norway, employees are protected by the Norwegian Working Environment Act. One of the many regulations is overtime and the calculation of general work hours. It is essential that you as  the employer, calculate work hours in accordance with the law and pay the correct overtime fees.

What are 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. Under 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 those mentioned above, either by 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. Typically, 37,5 working hours per week instead of 40 hours. Employers cannot agree upon higher limits for working hours than the general rule. 

Contact Magnus Legal for business legal expertise

What is overtime?

Overtime is either working hours that exceed 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 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 in the Working Environment Act is called “extra work.” This is typically 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 paying unnecessary overtime to your employees. 

Also read: The rules for temporary employment in Norway

When do you pay overtime?

The Working Environment Act states that overtime must be paid with an additional minimum of 40 percent. The employee is not allowed to waive the right to overtime pay. 

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 are legal when there is a particular need for it and it is time limited. 

This is typically when the business has increased work pressure due to unforeseen events, for example, in 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. 

Also read: Norwegian employment contracts - do's and don'ts

Discussion duty

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

Collective agreement

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

Contact Magnus Legal for business legal expertise

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Eirik G Kristoffersen - Associate Lawyer

Eirik mainly works with international employment and particularly with tax liability for foreign companies, as well as personal taxation. He assists Norwegian and foreign companies with their obligations in Norway, including the necessary reports, tax returns and complaints for private individuals. Eirik worked as a tax adviser in the Norwegian Tax Administration from 2015-2018, and legal adviser in Compendia from 2018-2022, and came to Magnus Legal in April 2022.

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