Working time regulations according to the Norwegian Labour Act

The rules on working hours can be found in the Labour Act Chapter 10

In the Act you will find rules concerning:

  • different types of working arrangement
  • regulations defining the extent of normal working days
  • rules on overtime work
  • daily and weekly rules for off-work time
  • working time on Sundays and public holidays
  • night work time
  • exemptions

You can also find rules on working time in collective agreements – either in a collective agreement in force between Tekna and your employer - or in another collective agreement made valid for all employees by your Employer.

Further rules on the organization of working time may also be described in the staff`s handbook, staff regulations or other written documents. It is recommended, for the sake of completeness, that you check the content in these documents as well.

Why are rules on working hours regulated in the Labour Act?

The purpose of the working time provisions in the Act is to ensure that the working hour time do not effect you or your family in an unnecessary unhealthy way or leads to social strains. According to the Working Acts legislative intent provision in section 1-1 the aim is to ensure a working environment providing a healthy and meaningful work.

What is working time?

Working time hours is basically the time on which you actually are at the disposal of the Employer in order to perform duties stated in the employment contract, instructions or by orders. Travel time is not counted as working time. Pauses are not considered to be working hours as long as you are free to leave the workplace. Whether you are entitled to compensation for your travel time depends on agreements with the Employer. In Statens Personalhåndbok, e.g. regulations about compensation are included.

Basically, the provisions of chapter 10 are mandatory. The provisions can not be altered to other arrangements, unless the individual provision expressly allows it.  A practical example is that a union, under certain conditions, may accept an agreement on different working time rules than stipulated by the Labour Act.

Scope and exemptions

Basically, all workers are covered by the provisions regarding working hours time in the Act, chapter 10.  According to the wording in section 1-6 the term “employee” is defined more closely.

Pursuant to section 10-12, two groups of employees are exempted from parts of chapter 10. This applies for employees in managerial or leading positions and employees with a particular independent position. The provisions of section 10-2, numbers 1, 2 and 4 apply anyway. The effect of this is that working arrangements should hinder adverse physical or psychological stress. In addition, the group is entitled to exemption from night work and to request for reduced working time hours. The purpose of the Act is that the provisions are to be interpreted in a strict way. The consequence of the Act`s intention is that exemptions only should apply for a small group of workers.

Based upon our experiences, the exemption clause is used to a greater extent than justified by the wording of the Act. If you are in doubt whether you rightfully are defined within the exemption clause, we recommend that you contact our legal office for a review of your contract and working conditions. For the record, in our opinion graduate candidates as a rule can never be defined as workers with a particular independent position.

We also emphasize that it is not necessarily correct and lawful that you are exempted from provisions in the Act, just because of your Employers definition of your position not being enabled for overtime pay. The definition of your position should always be subject of a thorough assessment.

The rules in the Act, regarding working time.

What is a normal working day:

The normal working time hours according to the Act section 10-4 should  not exceed 9 hours per day (as per 24 hours) or 40 hours per week (as per seven days).

For employees tied to shift work or shifts, working time hours as per seven days should not exceed either 38 or 36 hours a week.

Many employees in Norway have - either through a collective agreement, or by the Employers decision brought forward in staff regulations – working time set for 37,5 hours per week. Lunch break is seldom included in the actual working time. Please be informed that there is a difference between normal working hours time by the Act and agreed working time hours. Normal working time hours in accordance with the Act is 40 hours per week, normal working time hours per agreement is normally 37.5 hours per week. The timed difference between the two regulations of 2.5 hours is not defined as overtime in the Act, but may be defined as overtime in the collective agreement or staffs handbook.

Provision of working can be found here; Working Environment Act section 10-4

Overtime work:

If your working time hours exceed 40 hours per week, this time is defined in accordance with the Act as overtime work. Overtime work can be conducted only if the need is exceptional and limited. Such needs may be particularly and unforeseen workload, unpredicted events and acute illness by your colleagues.

The Act defines certain limits for the extent of overtime work. These limitations may be exempted by a collective agreement amongst the company and union representatives, or by permission from the Arbeidstilsyn.  Overtime work together with the normal working time hours, should not exceed ten hours for a period of seven days, 25 hours in four consecutive weeks or 200 hours over a period of 52 weeks.

You are entitled to exemption from overtime duty, if you have just reasons, e.g. your health or very important social reasons. If you are the alone carer for young children and they get ill for a longer period, this might be such social reason. Whether your reason for the exemption is justified or not, depends on an individual analysis where documentation from a medical doctor often will be needed.

Overtime work must, according to the Act, be compensated with an addition to your salary with at least 40%. By agreement, higher remuneration may occur.

The provision on overtime work can be found here: Working Environment Act section 10-6

Night time work:

 Working hours placed  between 9 pm and 6 am is defined as night work time, and is prohibited unless the nature of the work makes it necessary to conduct work between these hours.The necessity of night work time is to be discussed prior to implementation.

The provisions on night work time can be found in the Working Environment Act section 10-11.

Sunday time work and working time on public holidays:

The provision regulating working time on Sundays and other public holidays is defined in section 10-10 number 1. This kind of work is only allowed if it is necessary due to the nature of the work required to be fulfilled. Sunday time work and holiday time work should be discussed with union representatives prior to the implantation.

The provisions can be found here: Working Environment Act section 10-10

Working hours - Flexible working time and reduced working hours:

You are entitled to a working time arrangement ensuring you freedom from physical and mental stress. You may be entitled to and granted flexible working time if this can be implemented without significant inconvenience to the ongoing business.

 If you are at the age of 62 you can apply for this. The same possibility applies for employees who because of health, social welfare or other weighty reasons are in the need for reduced working time hours. The right to the reduction of working time is only valid if the reduction can be completed without significant inconvenience to the business. If you are working reduced hours, you may have a preferential right to increased working time upon a vacant position in the company. The assumption for this is that the vacancy entirely or for the major part is assigned the same tasks as your current position.

If you want you look at this section you can find it here: Working Environment Act section10-2 number 4.

Modified date: Monday, March 16, 2015