All employees in Norway are entitled to take holiday. This is stipulated in the Norwegian Holiday Act.
The Act defines an employee as ”anyone who works in the employment of others”. If you started to work late in the year, however, it is not certain that you are entitled to all the holiday that same year. In order to be entitled to all the holiday, you must have started in the job by 30 September at the latest. If you started after 30 September, you are entitled to one week’s holiday that same year.
Right to holiday and holiday pay
The Act differentiates between the right to holiday and the right to holiday pay. Holiday pay is calculated on the previous year’s income (the qualifying year). Thus, the first year when you start in the job you are not entitled to holiday pay when you take holiday. However, as stated above, you are entitled to holiday, but without pay. The Holiday Act’s system is that the holiday pay is intended to compensate you for your loss of salary during the period when you take holiday.
Holiday pay is calculated in accordance with the Act as being 10.2% of last year’s income from employment. If you are entitled to a fifth holiday week pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, you will receive holiday pay of 12%.
Do you have to take holiday?
The Holiday Act’s foremost objective is to ensure that employees are given holiday each year. The employer is obliged to ensure this. Employees also have a duty to contribute to the holiday being taken, but an exception must be made here for those employees who have not accrued a right to holiday pay. In connection with amendments to the Act which came into force on 1 January 2009, it has now been expressly established by law that an employee also has a duty to ensure that holiday is taken each year. If you have not accrued any holiday pay at all, or not enough to compensate you for the loss of salary if you take the entire holiday, you can refuse to take the part of the holiday for which the loss of salary is not compensated by holiday pay. If the employer closes down for a general staff holiday, however, you must agree to take holiday even though you do not receive holiday pay.
How long a holiday are you entitled to?
The legislation, collective bargaining agreement and your own employment contract may all state the length of holiday you are entitled to. However, a collective bargaining agreement or individual employment contract cannot lead to you being given less holiday than the legislation entitles you to.
Established by statute
According to the Norwegian Holiday Act, you are entitled to holiday of 25 workdays. The Holiday Act counts Saturday as a workday, so that six workdays equal one week of holiday. In total, the Holiday Act entitles you to four weeks and one day of holiday.
Established by a collective bargaining agreement
In connection with the wage settlement in 2000, many groups became entitled to a fifth holiday week which was to be implemented gradually – two days in 2001 and two days in 2002. In total, these groups are entitled to five weeks’ holiday. Holiday pay for them is thus calculated at the rate of 12%.
Contractually agreed right to a longer holiday
Some employees are entitled, through separate contracts, to a longer holiday than that stipulated by legislation. This may be financed in the same way as the holiday pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement - by holiday pay being calculated according to a higher holiday pay rate. It may also be financed by the contract stipulating that the employee is entitled to one week’s extra holiday without an amount being deducted from the employee’s salary.
Employees over the age of 60
All employees who are 60 years old by the end of the holiday year are entitled to one extra holiday week according to the Holiday Act. Previously, this scheme only applied to those who were 60 by 1 September of the holiday year, but this has now been changed. The extra holiday week is financed by the percentage rate used to calculate holiday pay being increased by 2.3%. However, if you earn more than 6G (the Norwegian national insurance scheme’s basic amount), holiday pay is not calculated according to this higher rate in relation to that part of your salary which exceeds 6G.
Holiday pay – how much will you receive and when can you demand to be paid it?
Holiday pay is calculated at the rate of 10.2% - or if relevant 12% - of the holiday pay basis. The holiday pay basis is what you received in employee pay the year before – the qualifying year. The employee pay is in the first place your permanent salary, but also includes variable supplements, such as shift allowances, overtime pay and supplements for inconvenient working hours, salary during trips and payment for travel time. Bonuses are usually to be included in the holiday pay basis. What is crucial here is whether the bonus can be said to be payment for work, in other words whether the bonus accrual depends on the work effort put in.
Compensation for costs, such as the costs of a car, board, lodging, etc, is not counted as employee pay and is thus not included in the holiday pay basis. The holiday pay you received last year is also not part of your employee pay and is not included in the holiday pay basis.
The Holiday Act stipulates a system according to which you receive holiday pay when you take holiday. The Act may be deviated from on this point, and most employers pay holiday pay as either the May or June salary. In return, salary equivalent to the amount of holiday you are entitled to is withheld. If you are only entitled to the statutory holiday, this means that the employer will withhold the salary for four weeks and one day. This system means that you can take holiday when you want to during the year without having to have any amount deducted from your salary when you actually take holiday.
Employees in part-time jobs
The Holiday Act is intended to ensure the right to holiday for four weeks and one day. If you work 50% of full-time and take four weeks’ summer holiday, you have taken all the four weeks you are entitled to as holiday even if some of the days would have been days off for you anyway. The days that you are normally off work are in this context counted as vacation days. However, in connection with this, it is important to watch out that the employer does not deduct an amount equal to pay for four weeks and one day if your holiday pay is settled in the May or June salaries. If you have a 50% job, you must only be deducted pay for a corresponding number of days. If you have a 50% job, this means that you are only to be deducted pay for two weeks and a half day. For the month in which your holiday pay is paid as salary, you are to receive proportionately much more than those who work full time. For those who work full time, salary equal to four weeks and one day is to be deducted, while only salary for two weeks and a half day is to be deducted for you.
When can you demand to take holiday, and can you demand to take all your holiday together?
The Act allows the parties to agree on this. You may demand to take 18 workdays – i.e. three weeks – in the summer months, from 1 June to 30 September (the main holiday period). You may demand to take the remainder of the holiday – one week and one day – together. If you started in the job after 15 August, you may only demand to take one week holiday during the period up to 30 September. If you do not agree with your employer about when the holiday is to be taken, your employer is entitled to determine the holiday period. However, your employer is obliged to discuss this with you plenty of time in advance and you are usually entitled to be given two months’ notice. Employees over the age of 60 years decide themselves when to take the extra holiday week.
What happens if the holiday is postponed?
Employers may change the date of holidays if this is necessary due to unforeseen events. Such a change may only be made if taking the fixed holiday will, due to the unforeseen event, lead to significant operating problems and no replacement can be found for the employee. If your employer wants to change the dates of your holiday, this must be discussed and you are entitled to bring an employee representative with you to these discussions. During these discussions, you must provide information on the additional expenses you will incur as a result of this. You may demand that your employer reimburses these expenses. Compensation can nonetheless be claimed for additional expenses that you have not documented during the discussions if they appear to be natural consequences of the change.
Illness during the holiday
If you become ill for one week or more during your holiday and this can be documented by a medical certificate, you may demand to take a new holiday. The demand for this must be submitted as quickly as possible (without unreasonable delay) after you have returned to work.
Such a demand requires you to have been fully incapacitated for work. If you become ill before starting the holiday, you may demand to have the holiday postponed until later in the year. This demand must be documented by a medical certificate and be submitted at the latest on the last working day before the holiday was supposed to start.
Transfer of holiday
If you have not managed to take all of your holiday by the year-end, you may transfer up to two weeks to the next year. However, this must be agreed on in writing. You may also agree to take up to two weeks’ holiday in advance. If a collective bargaining agreement stipulates that you are to have holiday in excess of that granted by the Act, these days may be transferred to the next year if you do not manage to take them.
Since 2009, there is no longer any opportunity to agree to have money paid for holiday which the employee did not manage to take during the holiday year. As a consequence, all holiday that is not taken must be transferred to the subsequent holiday year even if this in practice exceeds the number of days that may be transferred pursuant to agreement..
The prohibition against paying for holiday that has not been taken only applies to holiday pursuant to the Holiday Act. Thus, payment instead of a transfer may still be agreed on for holiday resulting from an agreement.
The opportunity to take advance holiday is limited to 12 workdays. In other words, there is only an opportunity to take up to two weeks’ holiday in advance.
Taking holiday and parental leave
Your employer may not, without your consent, place your holiday in the period when you are on paid parental leave. You may also demand that already fixed holiday is postponed until the leave of absence is over. However, you can reach agreement on this because many people find it practical to extend their parental leave by taking holiday. In such case, the parental leave is interrupted while you take holiday and starts again once the holiday is over.
Taking holiday during a period of notice
If you are dismissed with notice, your employer may not demand that you take holiday during the period of notice unless you have a period of notice of three months or more. If you have a three-month period of notice, your employer may allocate your holiday to the period of notice but it is important to remember that you are entitled to take at least three weeks of your holiday between 1 June and 30 September, and that you must as a rule have two months’ notice when fixing your holiday. In other words, an employer is not free to allocate holiday to the period of notice even if you have a three-month period of notice. If you resign, you may demand that holiday is to be taken during the period of notice if there will otherwise not be time to take the holiday during the main holiday period or the holiday year. If you resign after 15 August, however, you cannot demand to take your holidays before 30 September.
What happens to your holiday pay when you leave a job
If you leave, you are entitled to receive your accrued holiday pay on the last normal payday before you leave. That part of the entitlement that cannot be calculated by this date may be paid on the first normal payday after you leave. If you have holiday money paid to you in the qualifying year, tax will be calculated on this. However, you can ask for the payment to be postponed until January of the next year if you do not want to pay advance tax on the payment.