Country Profile Norway - Working Practices

     
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Working hours

Norwegians typically work Monday to Friday and are supposed to do no more than 38 hours a week. However, many employees work longer hours, with some offices opening at 6am and often not closing for the day until 6pm. Employment laws surrounding parenthood are generous in comparison to some countries, particularly in terms of paternity leave. By law, a new mother must take nine weeks of paid leave after having a baby, while the father must take 14 weeks paid leave before the child’s third birthday. Norway has a family-oriented culture so bosses are usually understanding about the need for parents to take paid leave days.

Holidays

Depending on the profession, most workers are entitled to at least 25 days paid holiday per year in Norway. By law, employees must receive paid days off for national holidays with those receiving higher pay (usually double time) if they are required to work on the day in question. Norwegian employers are generally sympathetic to providing time off to workers for religious holidays, even if they are not nationally recognised events. The Sami tribe for example, have their own celebrations which do not fall into the official national holiday calendar. However, it is not uncommon for Norwegian bosses to allow paid time off for any workers who acknowledge such events.

Public holidays

There are ten public holidays in Norway regulated by law as well as several – including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – which are recognised by some regions. Seven of the national holidays are religious and the date can vary each year depending on the lunar cycle. There are also some ‘Flag Flying Days,’ such as Liberation Day, which is not an official holiday but flags are flown from public buildings and homes.

Public holiday dates 2017

New Year’s Day: 1st January

Mother’s Day: 12th February

Maundy Thursday: 13th April

Good Friday: 14th April

Easter Monday: 17th April

Labour Day: 1st May

Constitution Day: 17th May

Ascension Day: 25th May

Whitmonday: 5th June

Father’s Day: 12th November

Christmas Day: 25th December

St Stephen’s Day: 26th December

 

Visas and eligibility

From January 1st 2010, Norway introduced a new Immigration Act which streamlined the process of applying for work and residency permits into one permit. The law also introduced the Early Work Start which means you can now start working in Norway before your application for a residence permit is granted.

As a rule of the new Act, parents must also prove they are able to support their families financially in Norway. Because Norway falls within the European Economic Area (EEA), jobseekers, students and professionals from other EU/EEA countries can stay in the country without a permit or visa for up to three months. After this time a residence permit is required and expats of any nationality must sign the National Register (Folkeregisteret). For more information, consult the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Tax

Norway has a reputation for being one of the most taxed countries in the world, with the tax burden being almost four times that of Hong Kong. VAT is also very high, sitting at around 25%. Tax (or Skatt), comprises VAT, income tax and social security contributions and is collected by central government. The tax year runs from January 1st to December 31st and is managed by the Tax Administration or Skatteetaten. In general, the combined rate of tax is around 27% on all taxable income while higher salaries can be taxed an additional 12% above certain thresholds. The good news is that there are some tax reliefs on offer for expats, often including a reduction in national insurance contributions. For example, expats staying in Norway for less than two years can receive a 10% deduction on some taxes.

Benefits

The welfare state is a generous safety net in Norway, if certain criteria are met. Sickness pay is especially generous, with employees receiving 100% of salary for up to a year. Unemployment benefits are available for those who register with the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) but the recipient must prove they are actively applying for jobs. Expats can also request that rights in other EU/EEA countries are transferred to Norway. EU/EEA citizens who come to Norway can claim sickness benefits if they are working in the country. For expats who have contributed to the national insurance scheme, family benefits such as child benefit are available.

Pensions

The pension age in Norway starts at 62, which is lower than most Western countries. However, many Norwegians work in some capacity until they reach 67. To be entitled to a full pension, you must have lived and worked in Norway for 40 years. The amount of pension reduces depending on the number of years not working and living in the country. Due to the high cost of living in Norway, many pensioners choose to retire abroad, where even the Norwegian minimal state pension (Minstepensjon) can stretch further than in their native country. The amount a person receives as a state pension is determined by their earnings in their working lives. To find out how much you are entitled to, check with your local NAV office.

Disability

The Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) acts as the voice for people with disabilities. Norway is committed to equality for all workers, regardless of their disabilities. Therefore, workplaces and schools are encouraged to provide wheelchair access and employees are treated with respect and dignity. The influence of the NAD is significant, with the group having over 15,000 members, 250 branches and a youth organisation. The rights of disabled people are also enshrined in the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act.

 

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