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HOLIDAY

‘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 

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For members

MONEY

How and where to get the cheapest fuel in Norway

Norway is leading the pack when it comes to the sales of new electric vehicles. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all new car sales in this country are electric. But for petrol and diesel car owners who have yet to make the switch, knowing when and where to find the cheapest fuel can end up saving you thousands of kroner.

A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs.
A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs. Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

Why is it so expensive to fuel up?

Fuel – gasoline, petrol and diesel — is an expensive monthly bill for many. Norway typically has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government, as well as the usual international market factors.

The Norwegian Competition Authority or Konkurransetilsynet recently stated that it is perhaps now more important than ever before to be aware of the ever changing fuel prices.

We have registered price differences of 2-3 kroner in the same local area. There is undoubtedly money to be saved by following along,” said Marita Skjæveland, deputy leader of the Norwegian Competition Authority’s energy section to broadcaster TV2.

The average price to fuel up between the months of July to October this year was 18.8 kroner per litre (2.26 dollars or 1.94 euros). 

READ ALSO: Five things that are becoming more expensive in Norway (and why)

Does it matter which day you fuel up?

As of writing, routinely fueling your vehicle on a specific day of the week will likely no longer save you money. 

“We see that the players in the market still raise prices two to three times a week, but that it happens on different days from week to week,” Skjæveland told TV2. The competition analyst added that by the end of the year, fixed price increases may also happen over the weekend. As such, it’s important to stay updated not only on the weekdays, but on the weekends as well.

Previously, Sunday evenings and early on Monday mornings used to be known as the cheapest time to fill your vehicle’s tank with petrol or diesel.  This is now a practice of the past. 

Where can I find cheap petrol prices online?

Hunting for the cheapest fuel prices in Norway is quite common. It’s also a normal discussion to have with your neighbours and colleagues. So don’t be worried about appearing ‘cheap’ if you want to talk about the high price of fuel. Or share which local petrol stations you have noticed to be less expensive. 

You can check Facebook for groups that are committed to informing the public on where to find the cheapest petrol stations. 

For Oslo and its surrounding areas, you can try here, and if you live in or are driving through the south of Norway, check here.

Drivestoff is an app designed to compare prices of petrol stations you will drive by on your journey so you can plan ahead to get the cheapest fuel. You can find more information and download the app here.

You can also save money by looking for a queue of cars at a petrol station. Yes, it may be just busy. But oftentimes, a queue is a signal for cheaper petrol prices. 

Memberships and credit cards can save you money on fuel

If you’re in the market for a credit card, look for one that might save you money on fuel. Credit cards such as 365 Direct and Flexi VISA will give you good discount options at all petrol stations. If you have a particular station you always fill up at, such as a YX, you can sign up for the company’s credit card to receive discounts on fuel. 

There are also benefits to be had if you sign up for a credit card or a drivstoffkort or “fuel card”.

A drivstoffkort is a special credit card which you use to pay when refuelling your vehicle. The cards generally only work at the stations run by the company to which the card belongs. Different deals and types of card are available, depending on the company.

Specific deals on credit card and drivstoffkort discounts can be found (in Norwegian) here

You can sometimes use membership cards with grocery stores or real estate organisations to give you discounts on fuel. For example, the Coop Medlemskort will save you 45 øre when filling up at Circle K petrol stations. Trumf kortet, which is associated with the chains Kiwi, Meny, Joker and Spar, gives you bonuses when you fill up at Shell stations. OBOS members receive a 27 øre discount on petrol and diesel at both Statoil and 1-2-3-Automat stations. 

Where can I get the lowest priced petrol?

Petrol stations in Norway are extremely competitive. There is no one company that is known to sell gasoline or diesel cheaper than the others

Like many other goods, fuel prices around Norway will rise and fall with demand. Typically, fuel stations located in mountainous towns or areas that heavily rely on tourism will have more expensive fuel. If you’re on holiday in such a town or area, and can wait to fuel up when you get to a more trafficked motorway, it will likely save you money. 

Petrol stations that don’t have employees on location tend to be slower at increasing their prices to match the competition. So if you know you’ll be passing by an ubemannet or “unstaffed” petrol station on your trip, it may be cost-effective to wait and fill up there. 

Consider how much time you want to invest

Joining the hunt for cheaper fuel may not be for everyone. It is time consuming, and admittedly hard to achieve due to the ever-changing prices. If you are not dependent on your vehicle for your daily commute and don’t often drive long distances, fueling up at your local gas station may be the best choice. 

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