Rights and responsibilities
You have the right to a written employment contract regardless of whether your work is temporary or permanent. Your work contract should include the following information:
- Duration of employment
- Wages, also how often you will be paid and how the payment is made
- Probationary period (usually 6 months)
- Terms for giving notice (both during and after a probationary period)
- Working hours
- Job description, including duties, job title and other information
- Holiday leave
Read your contract thoroughly to make sure you understand all the terms and conditions.
Membership in a trade union is not mandatory in Norway, but it can be very helpful and is quite common. Trade unions can assist you with information also before you sign an employment contract, in order to ensure your rights and that you sign a valid contract.
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is the largest organisation and can provide you with information about various trade unions relevant for your occupational sector.
Another large organisation is the Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) which consists of many unions covering different employment sectors. For professionals with higher education there are a number of organisations, of which many are members of the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (Akademikerne).
The working environment act
Norway has implemented a ”work environment act”, which is a law to protect workers from physical and mental injuries. It is meant to secure a healthy and safe working environment. If you have any concerns about your workplace, you should talk with your employer first. You can also contact your safety delegate (“verneombud”) or your union representative (“tillitsvalgt”). Should you need further advice or assistance, contact the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (see related information to the right).
There is no standard minimum wage level in Norway. In some sectors such as the building industry there is a collective wage agreement with set minimum wage levels for both skilled and unskilled labourers (see “Selected professions and Industries” for more information).
In many cases pay is something to be negotiated with your employer. In many sectors there are collective agreements on pay between trade unions and employer organisations, so through membership in a union your pay is determined by a pay-scale agreement.
In Norway employees are by law entitled to 21 days holiday each year; in addition many employees have 25 days as a result of collective bargaining. If you are over 60 years old you are entitled to one extra week.
Holiday pay (called “feriepenger”) is earned the calendar year in advance, and amounts to 10.2 % of normal pay. For those covered by collective agreements for extra holiday leave (25 days), the rate is 12 %. For employees over 60 years of age these rates are respectively 12.5 % and 14.3% as of 2007.
If you started work recently you may therefore not yet be entitled to holiday pay. You can still take holiday leave without pay. Also, if your employment is terminated, you will receive any owed holiday pay along with your final wages. If you need guidance on work and holiday regulations, contact your trade union or the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority for more information (see also related information to the right).
When you work for a Norwegian employer you have to pay taxes here. To avoid dual taxation, Norway has bilateral agreements with the other EEA-member states. There are also special rules that apply if you are going to stay in Norway for less than six months. Your local tax office will give you further information (see related information).
Your employer will deduct tax from your wages before you are paid. You will need a tax deduction card from the local tax office, and deliver this to your employer as soon as possible. This will enable your employer to deduct the correct percentage of your income tax. If you start working without this card, your employer will be obliged to deduct 50 %, which is usually more than you would be assessed. Any excess tax will be refunded to you the following year.
How much tax you can expect to pay depends on how much you earn as well as any tax deductions you may be allowed. There are two categories of taxpayers which determine some of the allowances you may be entitled to: Class 1 for single persons and most married couples where both have incomes and Class 2 for single parents and married couples where only one spouse has an income.
If you will be residing in Norway less than two years, you may also be eligible for a standard tax deduction of 10 % with a maximum level of NOK 40 000 (as of 2007). Ask about this at your local tax office when you apply for your tax deduction card.
You will also have to submit a tax return by April 30th each year. This is usually filled in in advance and mailed to you in April. You will need to check the details against your pay statements. If you need assistance in completing the form contact your local tax office.