Basic Labour Law

The Norwegian Working Environment Act (Arbeidsmiljøloven) regulates the relationship between employers and employees.

Published 26.09.13

Contract of employment
The Working Environment Act requires a written contract of employment to be provided in all employment relationships. This applies both to permanent and temporary work and irrespective of the duration of employment.

Working time
Normal working time according to the Working Environment Act is 40 hours per week. However, the working time established in all collective agreements is 37, 5 hours per week. For shift work the normal working time is shorter. Employees may have the right to reduced working hours due to health, social or welfare reasons. The Act also establishes the right to flexible working hours if this can be arranged without major inconvenience to the employer.

The employer is obliged to keep an account on hours actually worked by each employee. Overtime work has to be compensated: All employees, except leaders and staff in particularly independent posts, have the right to a supplement of at least 40% for overtime work.

Holidays
The Holiday Act (Ferieloven) supplemented by the collective agreements provide the general framework for annual holidays in Norway. All employees are entitled to paid holiday of five weeks during one calendar year. Employees beyond 60 are entitled to one additional week. Saturdays are regarded as working days. Pay is based on the income in the previous calendar year.

The employer is obliged to consult with the employee(s) concerned or his/her trade union representative on the fixing of holiday dates. If no agreement can be obtained, the employer has the right to decide within certain limits established in the Act. An employee may demand to take his main holiday, comprising three weeks, during the main holiday period, 1 June–30 September. The last two weeks can be taken as a single period or broken up in weeks or days.

Sick leave
Employees who are ill can stay home until three consecutive calendar days without a medical certificate. To be entitled to daily cash benefits from the National Insurance Scheme, a medical certificate must be presented. Daily cash benefits for employees on sick leave equal 100 per cent of pensionable income, and are paid from the first day of sickness for a period of 260 days (52 weeks). Daily cash benefits in the case of sickness are paid by the employer for the first 16 calendar days, and thereafter by the National Insurance Scheme.

An employee who is absent from work due to necessary care for a sick child, is entitled to daily cash benefits up to ten days, or fifteen days if there are more than two children, during a calendar year. Single parents are entitled to such benefits up to 20 days, or 30 days if there are more than two children, during a calendar year. Parents may receive such benefits up to and including the year of the child's 12th birthday.

Leave due to pregnancy, childbirth and adoption

An employee who has been employed for at least six of the last months prior to the birth of a child is entitled to leave with pay for 43 weeks (full daily rate or 53 weeks (reduced daily rates) The leave can be shared between the mother and the father, but the first six weeks after giving birth is reserved for the mother. 14 weeks of the benefits period are reserved for the father (father’s quota). In case of adoptions, similar rules will apply.

Dismissal
Notice of dismissal must be objectively justified, and given in writing unless otherwise agreed in the working contract or regulated by law. A period of one month’s notice shall be applicable to either party. In the notice of dismissal, the employer shall inform the employee of the right to demand negotiations and to institute legal proceedings.

NHO members are advised to contact their sectoral federation or regional office before any dismissal process is started. Mistakes may be expensive!

Occupational health and safety
Section 3-1of the Working Environment Act formulates the general OHS obligations of employers:

“In order to safeguard the employees’ health, environment and safety, the employer shall ensure that systematic health, environment and safety work is performed at all levels of the undertaking. This shall be carried out in cooperation with the employees and their elected representatives”.

The employer has an obligation to provide systematic training on health and safety issues.

The Act is detailed and supplemented by a number of regulations which cannot be dealt with here. Companies are advised to seek assistance from their sectoral federation or local NHO office.