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Vacation rights in Norway

Feb. 24 2021

Who has the right to take vacation days in Norway? How do you earn vacation pay? How much vacation can you transfer? What happens to my vacation pay when I quit? What does the Holiday Act say? 

These are your vacation rights stipulated by the Norwegian Holiday Act.

Right to vacation days and vacation pay  

According to the Holiday Act, all employees have the right to vacation days.   

The Act defines an employee as "anyone who performs work for another." However, if you started working late in the year, it is not certain that you have the right to take a full vacation that same year. In order to have the right to a full vacation, you must have started work on 30 September at the latest. If you started after this date, you have the right to one week of vacation that same year.

The Act distinguishes between the right to a vacation and the right to vacation pay. When you use vacation days, you are not entitled to any salary for those days. The Holiday Act’s system is that vacation pay is to compensate for the salary lapse during the period you take vacation.  

Vacation pay is calculated using the previous year’s income (the earning year).

So during the first year you work, you have no right to vacation pay if you take a vacation. While you do have the right to take off work (vacation), you do not have the right to receive any wages during this time. 

While vacation pay is calculatedaccording to the Actat 10.2% of the previous year’s salary, most people receive vacation pay at 12% because they have a contractual right to take five weeks of vacation.  

Do you have to use vacation days? 

The main purpose of the Holiday Act is to ensure that employees get an annual vacation.  

Employers are obligated to ensure this happens. 

An employee is also obligated to participate in ensuring that they take their vacation, although an exception must be made here for employees who have not earned the right to receive vacation pay. If you have not earned any vacation pay, or not enough to compensate for a salary lapse when taking all of your vacation, you can refuse to take the portion of vacation where the salary lapse is not compensated for by vacation pay.  

If your employer determines that you must take vacation during “high season”(fellesferie), you have to accept using these vacation days, even if you do not receive vacation pay. 

How long of a vacation are you entitled to take? 

The Holiday Act, collective bargaining agreement and your own employment contract all can indicate the number of vacation days you are entitled to use. However, collective bargaining agreements or individual agreements do not mean that you will get a shorter vacation than the law stipulates.   

Statutes 

According to the Holiday Act, you are entitled to a vacation lasting 25 workdays. The Act considers Saturday as a working day, and 6 working days thereby add up to one week of vacation. Altogether the Act gives the right to 4 weeks and 1 day of vacation. 

Collective Bargaining Agreement 

In connection with the 2000 collective bargaining agreement, several groups were given the right to a fifth week of vacation, which was to be gradually implemented with two days in 2001 and two days in 2002. Altogether these groups have the right to five weeks of vacation, and their vacation pay is therefore calculated at12%. 

Contractual right to a longer vacation  

Some employees have the right to take a longer vacation than normally granted by law through their own agreement. This can be financed in the same way as the collective agreement, in that their vacation pay is calculated according to a higher vacation pay rate. It can also be financed in the sense that the agreement gives you the right to an extra week of vacation without having your salary deducted.   

Employees over 60 years old 

According to the Holiday Act, all employees who turn 60 during a vacation year have the right to one extra week of vacation. Previously, although this rule applied only to employees who turned 60 by September 1st of the vacation year, it has now been revised. The extra vacation week is financed through raising the vacation pay calculation by 2.3%. If you earn more than 6G (National Insurance basic amount), your vacation pay is however not calculated according to this increased rate for the portion of your salary that exceeds 6G. 

Vacation pay 

How much will you receive? 

Vacation pay is calculated by taking 10.2% - or 12% - of yourvacation pay basis. 

The vacation pay basisis what you received in remuneration the previous year.  

Remuneration is comprised of not only yourregular salary but also additional income from shift work, overtime, inconvenient working hours, and all travel outside of working hours. Anybonuspayments are usually included in vacation pay. The deciding factor here is to what extent a bonus can be called remuneration for work, or in other words, if the bonus earnings are dependent on the work provided. Expense compensation, including expenses for car, meals, lodging and the like are not counted as remuneration and are therefore not included in the vacation pay basis. Neither is the amount of vacation pay you got last year remuneration; as a result, it does not count toward determining the current year’s vacation pay.  

When are you entitled to receive your vacation pay? 

According to the Holiday Act, vacation pay should be paid when you take your vacation. The law can be deviated from on this point, and most employers make this payment as part of the May or June payroll, whether or not you take vacation at this time; in return, the employer keeps an amount equivalent to the vacation to which you are entitled. If you are only entitled to statutory vacation time, your employer will keep your salary for four weeks and one day. If you are entitled to five weeks of vacation, your employer will keep your salary for five weeks. This system requires that you can take your vacation whenever you want during the year without needing to get any salary cut when you actually take vacation.  

Part-time employees  

The Holiday Act ensures that employees har the right to take a vacation of four weeks and one day. If you have a half-time position and take four weeks of summer vacation, you have used up all of the four weeks to which you are entitled, even if some of these days are actually national holidays. These days, which you would normally have off anyway, are counted in this situation as vacation days. However, it is important to make sure if this happens that your employer does not deduct your wages for four weeks and one day if they settle your vacation pay from the May or June payroll. If you have a half-time position, you are only to be deducted for the same number of days. A half-time position means that two weeks and a half-day will be deducted. The month during which vacation is settled in salary, you will earn a comparatively much larger amount than full-time employees, who have salary deductions equivalent to four weeks and a day while you will only have deductions for two weeks and half a day.  

When are you entitled to take vacation, and are you entitled to take your entire vacation at one time?   

The law allows for contractual flexibility on this point. You are entitled to take 15 weekdays – in other words three weeks – during the summer months, from 1 June to 30 September (high season). You are entitled to take the rest of your vacation – one week and one day – at one time. If you started employment after 15 August, you are only entitled to take one week up to 30 September. If you cannot agree with your employer on when to take your vacation, the employer has the right to determine when you will do so. However, your employer is still obligated to discuss this with beforehand; in general, you are entitled to receive two months’ notice. Employees over 60 years of age may decide for themselves when to take their extra week of vacation.  

What happens if your vacation dates are changed? 

An employer can change the vacation time if necessary due to unforeseen circumstances. This change may only be made when taking the predetermined vacation will due to these unforeseen circumstances cause significant operational problems, and no substitute can be found. If your employer wants to move your vacation dates, this must be discussed, and you are entitled to bring along a union representative to this discussion. During this discussion, you must provide information about any additional expenses you will incur as a consequence of delaying your vacation. You are entitled to have your employer reimburse you for these expenses. If you have any undocumented extra expenses, you may still request their reimbursement if they are closely connected with changing your vacation dates.  

Illness during vacation 

If you become ill during your facation, and this can be confirmed by a doctor’s note, you are entitled to a new vacation. The request for this must be presented as soon as possible (with no unreasonable delay) after you have returned to work. Previously, you could only request that a sick leave lasting six days or more could be postponed, but after a new law came into effect on 1 July 2014, employees can request a postponement of their vacation due to illness of only one day.  

This type of request requires that you have been 100% incapacitated.  

If you become ill before your vacation starts, you can request that the vacation be postponed until later that year. This request must be confirmed by a doctor’s note and presented at the latest on your last workday before your vacation was to have begun. 

Transferring vacation days 

If you have not used up all of your vacation days before year’s end, you can transfer up to two weeks to the following year. However, this must be agreed upon in writing. You can also agree to take up to two weeks of vacation in advance. If you have a contractual right to a vacation beyond what the law allows, you can transfer these days to the following year if you have not used them up.   

After a new law came into effect in 2008, it is no longer possible to request that any unused vacation days be paid. The consequence of this is that all vacation days that have not been used, must be transferred to the following year, even if this in practice exceeds the number of days you are allowed to transfer.  

After a new law came into effect on 1 July 2014, this applies no matter the reason why vacation days have not been used. Previously, exceptions were made for employees who could not take their vacation because of illness or parental leave during the vacation year, but this exception has now been eliminated.  

It is presumed that the ban on paying out unused vacation days only pertains to vacation in accordance with the Holiday Act. On the other hand, you can get paid for contractually arranged vacation days instead of transferring them. 

Using vacation days in advance is now limited to 12 weekdays. In other words there is now only permitted to use up to two weeks of vacation in advance. 

Vacation and parental leave  

Your employer may not schedule your vacation during your parental leave without your permission. You can also request that predetermined vacation be postponed until your leave is over. However, you and your employer can agree on this point, because many employees find it practical to extend their parental leave with vacation. The leave period in this case will be interrupted while you take your vacation, starting up again when your vacation is over.  

Vacation during a notice period  

If you are given notice, your employer cannot require that you take your vacation during the notice period unless this period is three months or more. If you have a three-month notice period, your employer can schedule your vacation during this time, but it is important to remember that you are entitled to at least three weeks of vacation that falls between 1 June and 20 September, and that you in principle are to have two months’ notice when any vacation is schedule. In other words your employer is not free to schedule your vacation during the notice period even if you have a three-month notice period. If you yourself give notice, you can request that your vacation be taken during the notice period if there will not be time to take any vacation during high season or the vacation year itself. If you give notice after 15 August, you can still not request to take vacation before 30 September.   

What happens to your vacation money when you quit your job?   

If you quite you are entitled to having your vacation pay paid out on your last regular payroll before you leave. The portion of the payment that cannot be calculated within this date may be paid out on the first regular payroll after your departure. If you have vacation pay paid out during the earning year, this amount will be taxed. However, you can request that the payout be postponed until January of the following year if you do not want to pay advance taxes on the payout. This requires that you agree with your employer on postponement; it is not something to which you are entitled.  

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