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Synne Lüthcke Lied
Synne Lüthcke Lied, lawyer in Tekna,

Working in Norway

Work-Life balance in Norway: Three things you should know

Published: Dec. 20 2022

In Norway, having a sustainable working life is encouraged. From laws and regulations to cultural codes and expectations, this is what you need to know about the Norwegian work culture.

There are a few distinct features to working in Norway. First of all, a flat hierarchical structure is common, and freedom of speech is expected. In addition, there is a strong trade union culture present, and workers’ rights are frequently discussed both inside and outside the workplace.

“In my experience, Norwegian employers endeavour to create a workplace where employees are included and heard. There are of course exceptions, but overall, workers’ contentment is a key concern for many Norwegian companies”, says lawyer in Tekna, Synne Lüthcke Lied.

In addition, workers in Norway are protected by the Norwegian Working Environment Act. This is a law created to safeguard employees' health, environment and safety at work.

“Working hours are strictly regulated in Norwegian laws. The Working Environment Act is an important vantage point in Norwegian working life”, Synne Lüthcke Lied explains.

We have gathered the three most important aspects of Norwegian work/life balance below. Here is what you should know:

1. The Norwegian work week

A normal full-time work week in Norway is 37,5 hours divided into 7,5 hours a day excluding lunch. If you are asked to work more than your contracted hours, you should be compensated with a minimum of 40 percent extra pay.

“You can agree with your employer to take these extra hours as time off instead, which is quite common. As a general rule, however, you have the right to be paid the extra 40 percent”, says Synne Lüthcke Lied.

If you work during nights, weekends and/or bank holidays, higher fees apply. What type of extra payment you are entitled to, depends on which industry you are working in and whether you work for a private company or the council, county or state. It might be wise to check which type of tariff agreement you are under and look up its recommendations.

These rules do not apply if you work as a sole trader.

2. Flexi time and working from home

Many workplaces operate with flexi time and so called “core hours” or “kjernetid”, meaning hours you are expected to be at work. “Kjernetid” is usually between 9 and 3 in Norwegian workplaces, and the flexi time system is usually based on trust.

“According to Norwegian law, you have the right to flexible working hours as long as it can be executed without significant disruptions at the workplace”, says Synne Lüthcke Lied.

After the pandemic, it is increasingly common to work from home. According to Synne Lüthcke Lied, many companies allow employees to work remotely, as long as there is an agreement in place between employer and employee.

“There is a home inspection regulation in Norwegian law, which states that the same regulations for working hours apply whether you work from home or in the office”, she says, adding that there are also requirements for the psychosocial working environment conditions when working from home.

3. Vacation and time off

A healthy work/life balance includes having time off. In Norway, you are not allowed to work more than 13 hours per 24 hours including overtime, meaning that you should be off at a minimum of 11 hours each day. You are also entitled to a minimum of 35 consecutive hours rest during a work week.

“For instance, you can’t work 14 hours a day, 7 days in a row. That is actually illegal.”

“There are some exceptions, however. For those with highly autonomous roles, which is often the case for members of Tekna, the rules can differ. This does not mean that these employees do not have the right to work in a healthy environment. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure their employees work under proper conditions”, Synne Lüthcke Lied explains.

Most workplaces operate with 5 weeks (25 days) vacation each year, even though only 4 weeks and 1 day (21 days) of these are statutory in Norwegian law. In order to be paid during these weeks, you need to have worked for your company for 12 months prior.

If you have any further questions about either working hours, flexi time, vacation or time off, Synne Lüthcke Lied suggests asking your trade union or safety and health representative at work.

“In Norway, you are encouraged to ask questions and be curious about why we do what we do. Getting involved is important in order to secure a healthy working situation for all”, she says.

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