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Calculation of working hours based on a fixed average means that employees can work more for a period of time, provided that they receive the corresponding time off duty later as compensation. Such a scheme may reduce the number of overtime hours. Here are the rules you, as an employer, need to know.

General working hours regulations in Norway

The general rule in Norway is that the working hours must be fixed and agreed upon in the employment agreement. The Norwegian Working Environment Act defines working hours as the time when the employee is at the disposal of the employer. The time the employee is not at the disposal of the employer is referred to as off-duty time.

The Working Environment Act limits how much an employee may work per 24-hours and per week.

The limits for normal working hours are: 9 hours per 24 hours and 40 hours per 7 days

If an employee works shifts, nights or Sundays, normal working hours are 38 or 36 hours a week. The duration and disposition of the daily and weekly working hours must be stated in the employment contract and the employer is obligated to keep an account of hours worked.

Many foreign workers in Norway commute to their home country and want to work more in periods so they can compensate with time off in other periods. The Working Environment Act opens for an alternative arrangement of working hours on the basis of a fixed average.

Also read: Be aware of the strict rules for termination of employment in Norway

 

Calculation based on a fixed average

An arrangement based on a fixed average permits the employee to work more than the limit for normal working hours during certain periods in exchange for working correspondingly shorter hours during other periods. The average number of hours worked must however be within the limits for normal working hours.

It is of utmost importance that such arrangements are made in writing. In order to protect the employees from entering into unhealthy or unreasonable agreements, there are strict rules regarding when this arrangement is accepted by the authorities.

There are three different alternatives:

  1. Written agreement between the employer and the employee
  2. The arrangement is laid down in a collective agreement between the employer and a group of employees
  3. Practiced in accordance with a dispensation granted by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority.

It is only in these three situations that a calculation on the basis of a fixed average is allowed. For example, if there is no written agreement, all working hours exceeding 9 hours on a single day or 40 hours in a week, will be considered overtime - even if the working hours are compensated with time off later on.

Also read: Employee rights in Norway                  

 

There are different limits for the three different alternatives

1) Agreement between the employee and the employer

For a period of up to one year, working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 10 hours per 24 hours
  • 48 hours per 7 days

The limit of 48 hours per seven days may be calculated according to a fixed average over a period of eight weeks. Normal working hours cannot exceed 50 hours in a week.

Note that the average number of working hours in the whole period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours.

Such agreement may not be entered into with employees who are temporarily employed.

2) Agreement between the employer and employees’ representatives in an undertaking bound by a collective pay agreement

For a period of up to one year, working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 12,5 hours per 24 hours
  • 48 hours per 7 days

The limit of 48 hours per seven days may be calculated according to a fixed average over a period of eight weeks. Normal working hours cannot exceed 54 hours in a week, and the average number of hours in the period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours. Nor may extended working hours be worked continuously for more than eight weeks.

3) On the consent of the Labour Inspection Authority

If the employer does not have a collective agreement or has a need to exceed the limits with an individual agreement with the employee, it is possible for the employer to send an application to the Labour Inspection Authority. The Labour Inspection Authority may accept wider limits for the work hours for a period of up to 26 weeks. For these 26 weeks working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 13 hours per 24 hours
  • 48 hours per 7 days or 48 hours on average during a period of 8 weeks

The average number of hours in the period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours.

Failure to comply with the Working Environment Act are considered a crime in Norway and the CEO of the company may be subject to criminal charges, so it is important that the employer reply correctly to the authorities.

Download free guide to Norwegian compliance, formalities and  reporting responsibilities

 

If you have further questions or need assistance on these situations, Magnus Legal has lawyers specializing in labour law ready to assist you. If you are already subject to a control visit or possible sanctions from the Labour Inspection Authority do not hesitate to contact us.