For members


‘Feriepenger’: What you need to know about holiday pay in Norway

As an employer or employee in Norway, it is important to understand how the holiday time and pay system works. Here's our guide to the Norwegian holiday regulations and culture to help you clock-out and enjoy life outside of the job.

'Feriepenger': What you need to know about holiday pay in Norway
Photo: S'well on Unsplash

What is fellesferie?

Before we fully get into breaking down how the holiday time and pay system works in Norway, it’s necessary to explain how Norwegian culture has adopted a system called fellesferie, or collective holiday. Collective holiday occurs in the last three weeks of July. It is when a considerably large number of residents in Norway choose to take time off work. It is during this time a lot of shops close permanently for three weeks, and why even the capital city’s streets in Oslo feel almost eerily quiet.

So ingrained is fellesferie in a Norwegian’s way of life is that as an employee, you may insist to your employer that you get to take these three weeks off. Collective holiday is only three weeks, but the main period of vacation time in Norway lasts from June 1st until December 31st.

The legislation 

Family and work-life balance isn’t just an idea here in Norway. It’s practiced. And there have been laws set in place to make it easier to do so. The Annual Holidays Act, or ferieloven, is intended to ensure that employees receive annual holiday.

Holiday pay, which is a part of this legislation, is intended to ensure that employees do not lose out on salary during holiday periods.

Employees are entitled to four weeks and one day of paid holiday each calendar year. While four weeks and one day is the law, it is common for most companies to have a five-week arrangement in place, states national labour regulator Arbeidstilsynet.

Who is entitled to keep track of holiday pay?

We know learning a new system isn’t easy, but luckily it isn’t your job as an employee to punch in the correct numbers. It is the employer’s job to make sure the correct sum is paid out for holiday pay, and that it is paid out on time. 

For public businesses and institutions, and a majority of private run companies in Norway, it works like this. Every month you receive a paycheck with your pre-taxed earnings, called your brutto sum. The brutto sum is the amount of salary you made before taxes. Along with the amount for taxes being deducted, there is a percentage (a minimum of 10,2 percent) of your monthly earnings that has been withheld to be paid back out as holiday pay at a later date. 

Click here to calculate how much holiday pay you should receive. 

Holiday pay is most commonly paid out at the end of the month of June, or right before what Norway considers to be a collective holiday. Receiving holiday pay at the end of June is the most common practice, but in principle, holiday pay is to be paid out on the last regular payday before the time free from work is taken.

It’s also important to note that holiday pay is not taxed monthly, but it is taxed as a total sum on the month it is paid out. 

How much holiday pay and time are you entitled to?

The amount of holiday pay you make will be a collective monthly percentage of what you have made in the past year. If you have not worked in the year leading up to your holiday, you still have the right to take holiday, but without pay. 

While one can insist on taking time off during the three weeks of collective holiday, the remaining days of time off are to be agreed between the employee and employer in good time leading up to the holiday, according to the law. If it is impossible to find an agreement, then it is the employer who determines the time for the holiday.

As an employee, you are also not allowed to demand your holiday be divided up into individual days (hello four-day work weeks!) unless you have an agreement with your employer. 

And as much as you have the right to take your annual leave, you can also refuse to if you have been working for less then a year and your holiday pay is thereby less than your normal monthly salary. However, you can not refuse to take a holiday if your employer closes down in whole or in part in connection with holiday cancellations. During fellesferie, for example.

Didn’t get around to using all of your holiday time? It’s ok. As stated by holidays act, an employer and employee can agree in writing to allow up to two weeks of holiday to be transferred to the following year. 

Some additions to be aware of

Perhaps one of the rules most distinguishing Norway then from other countries holiday pay systems is this one. If you are sick during your holiday, then you are entitled to get the time back. That’s right, if you fall ill during your requested time off, then you can request a new set of days later in the year to take free. Before this starts to sound too good to be true, new vacation days are not given for having a common cold, for example. A sick employee requesting a new holiday needs to hand over a medical certificate to their employer proving they were ill as soon as possible.  

Norway offers a big present to those who turn 60! Employees aged 60 and older are entitled to one additional week of holiday for every year until they retire. The over-60s also have the right to withhold 12,2 instead of 10,2 percent of their monthly salary to be paid out as holiday pay. 

If you change jobs, your vacation time can be transferred to your new job, but it is most commonly paid out as a lump sum and attached to your last paycheck.

What are the national public holidays in Norway?

There are 13 days in the calendar year that are considered ‘red days’.  Red days are when most shops, public offices, and many attractions are closed. But before you start making plans, check with your employer. Depending on where you work, these are not guaranteed days off. 

This year, the red days are: are New Year’s day, Maundy Thursday (April 1st), Good Friday (April 2nd) The 1st and 2nd days of Easter (April 4th and 5th),  Labour day (May 1st), Norway’s National Day (May 17th), Ascension (May 13th), the first day and seconds days of Pentecost (December 23rd and 24th), Christmas Day and December 26th.

Useful Vocabulary 

  • ta fri take time off, finish work (literally: ‘take free’) 
  • Endelig, det er fredag!Finally, it’s Friday!
  • permission uten lønnunpaid leave
  • sommerferie – summer holiday 
  • biltur – road trip 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How much money does it cost to live in Norway? 

Norway is equally known for good wages and a high cost of living. So, what is the typical budget for a family, couple and single person in Norway, and how does it change based on your circumstances? 

How much money does it cost to live in Norway? 

Generally known for being expensive, Norway has seen the cost of living in the country increase over the past 18 months thanks to high food and energy prices driving inflation. 

For example, the price of the most important food and drink products has risen twice as much as general inflation, according to SIFO, an institute for consumer research. 

Their figures are based on the cost of the average shopping bill, which allows for a well-balanced diet with essential everyday products. 

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) in Norway, which measures inflation, shows that prices have risen 6.4 percent in Norway over the past year

Whether you weigh up moving to the country, already live in Norway or are simply curious about how much of the oft-talked-about high salaries are eaten by salaries, SIFO publishes annual reference budgets, which crunch the numbers on living costs in Norway

SIFO uses a robust calculating method to figure out a rough reference budget for someone based on their age, earnings, whether they have a partner or children and what kind of car they drive. 

For example, a single man aged between 20-30 years old with no partner or children and who doesn’t drive a car is expected to have monthly outgoings of 12,293 kroner (excluding tax) if they earn the average salary of 53,150 kroner per month

The budget also does not include rent either. Rent prices in Norway vary between cities. In Bergen, it costs roughly 9,500 kroner a month for a one-room apartment compared to 11,950 kroner for a place of the same size in Oslo. Renting a room in a flatshare is also popular among younger people and is significantly cheaper than renting an entire apartment. 

The budget does include food and drink, clothing, personal care, leisure and media use, travel, furniture, other groceries and household items. Food is the most considerable expenditure in this example budget, costing 4,540 kroner a month. Meanwhile, the clothing and travel budget cost 900 and 853 kroner respectively. 

Social activities and media use were the next most significant expense after groceries, costing 1,650 kroner a month in the individual-specific section of the reference budget. Regarding household-specific expenses, media use and leisure were the biggest expenses, with an estimated expenditure of 2,160. 

Somebody of the same age in the same situation but earning around 20 percent less (43,150) kroner per month would have the same total expenditure, excluding taxes and rent. Therefore the main difference would be disposable income after expenses, taxes and rent. 

Meanwhile, a woman earning the average salary in Norway would have a lower monthly expenditure than a man, spending 11,623 kroner per month. The main differences between the two are a higher grocery bill for men and the woman spending more on personal care. 

Should the man and the woman meet, fall in love and move in together, they would spend on average 23,271 kroner per month, according to the reference budget. The food bill rises to 7,890 kroner per month for two people living together. The clothing, personal care, and travel budgets are essentially double compared to a single person, dealing a death blow to the old saying “two can live as cheaply as one”. 

Money spent on free time, leisure and media would total more than 5,000 kroner, while it would cost the couple 3,000 kroner to run a car. However, if they chose to run an electric vehicle, the cost of running a car would drop by 1,000 kroner a month. 

The expenditure in the reference budget mostly stayed the same if the earnings were pushed up to reflect both people in the relationship earning close to the average wage. 

Provided the relationship is going well, and the woman were to fall pregnant, the expenditure for the couple would increase by over 4,000 kroner to 27,801 kroner. This is because the couple would begin spending around 3,880 kroner a month on stuff for the baby. At this point the ages of the two people has been moved to being between 30 and 51. 

Once the baby is born, the monthly budget would swell to 30,871 kroner by the time the baby is between six and eleven months old. The couple’s food, clothing and personal care budget would see the largest rises. The food bill for a family with a baby is 9,620 kroner a month compared to 7,890 kroner a month for the couple when they’d just moved in with each other.

For a family with an annual household income of a million kroner (which means both parents earn close to the national average) and one school-age child signed up for after-school activities (SFO), and a toddler with a full-time kindergarten place who uses a car, the monthly reference budget is 37,826 kroner per month

The food bill would total around 13,000 kroner each month, while clothes, personal care, leisure time and media use would set the family back just over 10,000 kroner per month. Travel for the family (excluding car running costs) comes in at a hefty 2,133 kroner a month, while equipment for the toddler would set the family back around 3,880 kroner a month. 

After-school activities would cost 1,108 kroner per month, and money spent on other groceries and household items would be 1,350 kroner each month. Meanwhile, leisure and media use for the household would set the family back an additional 2,300 kroner.