For members


What you need to know about this year’s Norwegian wage settlement talks

Norway's 2023 wage settlement negotiations are underway. Here's what you need to know about this year's talks between employer and employee representatives.

This year's settlement negotiations are expected to be very demanding. Photo by Headway on Unsplash

More than half of all employees in Norway are covered by a collective agreement. Each year, the wages of the employees who fall under such an agreement are subject to collective pay settlement talks (lønnsoppgjør).

The negotiations are usually carried out between employer interest organisations and labour union umbrella organisations.

During the negotiation process, the parties usually discuss various issues, such as wage increases, benefits, and working conditions in Norway.

However, the 2023 talks are an interim settlement (mellomoppgjør), meaning that the key aspect of the negotiations will be the wage. Every other year, the main settlement (hovedoppgjøret) takes place, in which the entire collective agreement is negotiated.

This year, there has been a lot of media buzz in the run-up to the talks, as the cost-of-living crisis and overall inflationary pressure is making worker extra-attentive to the wage settlement.

The negotiating parties

The key players in the talks are the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) on the employee side, and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Norway’s largest employers’ organisation, on the employer side.

On Monday, LO chief Peggy Hessen Følsvik presented the employee side demands in the wage settlement to NHO leader Ole Erik Almlid.

These negotiations revolve around the wage framework for industry, which forms the basis for all the other wage settlements in Norway that will follow after this one.

Key demands and highlighted issues

As Hessen Følsvik pointed out on Monday, trade unions are asking for increased purchasing power, with a focus on improving wages for those with low pay and promoting equal pay.

The YS trade union, organisation also submitted its demands on Monday. As is the case with LO, YS also called for increased purchasing power.

Furthermore, both union organisations stated that the employees’ share of the value created is falling and that the pay differences in Norway are increasing.

They pointed out that large managerial bonuses are particularly concerning.

“Larger profits for the owners and higher bonuses and management salaries show that there is room for the employees to also take their share of the value created,” Anneli Nyberg of YS-privat said.

During the weekend, Hessen Følsvik said that the practice of low transparency regarding bonuses in state enterprises – such as Statkraft and Equinor – was also concerning.

“It is shocking, I would say. And the fact that we still don’t get access to it (note: the information) is not at all acceptable,” she told the Norwegian news bureau NTB.

The exact wage increase being requested has not been made public yet, but this year’s price increase is expected to end up at 4.9 percent, so it is reasonable to expect unions to make a demand that surpasses expected price growth.

Demanding negotiations expected

This year’s settlement negotiations are expected to be very demanding. If the parties do not reach an agreement by Thursday, the negotiations will be broken off, and the process will continue at the office of the National Mediator of Norway (Riksmekleren).

If the talks collapse at the level of the National Mediator, up to 185,000 LO members could go on strike.

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For members


Can you start your job in Norway before your work permit is granted? 

To be eligible for a work permit in Norway, you will need a solid full-time job offer, among other things, on the table. Can you start your new role and hit the ground running while your application is processed? 

Can you start your job in Norway before your work permit is granted? 

The wages, work-life balance and office culture, are the key calling cards of working in Norway. Unless you are from the EEA or qualify for a family immigration residence, you will likely need a work permit to move to Norway for your career

Before you start, you will need a solid job offer of either full-time or 80 percent of full-time work. This is in addition to your qualifications being relevant for the job and the pay and working conditions being in line with industry standards. 

Putting in the work permit application after being offered the job can feel like you are stuck in limbo, waiting to start your new role, as work permit applications can take months to process. 

If you want to get an early start and dive into your role and are wondering whether you can start while you wait for your application to go through, you will need to be aware that, typically, this isn’t allowed

“Normally, work immigrants from countries outside the EU/EEA cannot start working until they have been granted a residence permit,” the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes on its website

However, there is an exception to this rule. Employees and workers can obtain permission from the police force, where they hand in the application documents for the applicant to start their job before they receive a decision on their work permit. 

Permission for an early employment start is issued by the police rather than the UDI. When the employer or applicant hands in their documents to the police, they will need to ask for an early employment start. 

If the company is handling the application on the employee’s behalf, it will also need to submit a written power of attorney from the prospective worker

Once the request has been lodged, the police can confirm whether the employee may start work early and work for the employer until their residence application has been decided. During this period, the worker cannot change employer or clients. 

Should the employee require a visa to enter Norway, they can get this by heading to their nearest embassy and handing the early start confirmation to embassy officials. 

The application for early employment can only be made before the police send the work permit application for the police for processing. After the documents have been forwarded, it will not be possible to get permission to start the job before the permit is granted. 

Those with other residence applications lodged will need to wait until they receive a decision on their case before they can work (if their permit allows them to work). 

What else to be mindful of

In some rare cases, you can receive an early employment start confirmation but have your work permit rejected. 

This will be because the authorities will determine whether you meet all the criteria when your case is processed. Therefore, you can have your work permit denied because you don’t have the relevant qualifications for the role (for example)

You will be required to leave Norway and likely lose your job when this happens. 

Furthermore, being permitted to work doesn’t mean that you can start work immediately. You will also be required to have a Norwegian identification number. Some employers will also require a Norwegian bank account for the salary to be paid into. Setting these up may take some weeks.