Norway’s NAV social security scandal could date back 25 years

The EEA’s EFTA Surveillance Agency (ESA) thinks that errors by Norwegian authorities in interpreting rules for receiving social security abroad could date back further than initially thought.

Norway’s NAV social security scandal could date back 25 years
Photo: Depositphotos

Norway's Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV, is embroiled in an ongoing controversy after it incorrectly interpreted EU rules on certain types of social security, resulting in people being wrongly convicted of benefit fraud.

Resultantly, at least 48 people have been wrongly convicted of social security fraud after spending time in EEA countries while receiving social security assistance from Norway.

On Friday, the Norwegian state prosecutor froze all ongoing investigations into possible benefit fraud related to recipients who have spent time in other EEA countries.


The ESA now believes the problem could date all the way back to 1994, the year the EEA was established, media including Dagbladet reported Friday afternoon.

Bente Angell-Hansen, president of the ESA, told Dagbladet that the agency was now looking into errors in NAV administration of EEA social security rules dating from prior to 2012, the year new EU rules were implemented and when the errors are originally reported to have begun.

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) but not of the EU, and thereby shares enabling the extension of the EU’s single market to non-EU member countries.

“The way we see it, we are now thinking that [the NAV error] has been the case ever since Norway became part of the EEA agreement,” Angell-Hansen told Dagbladet.

That means possible wrong convictions for social security fraud dating back to 1994.

Consequently, up to 10,000 instances may exist of NAV wrongly demanding return social security payments from people who spent time abroad, according to a lawyer who specializes in the area.

“This could lead to a snowballing of cases. We are looking at an earthquake at NAV,” Olav Lægreid told Dagbladet.

Angell-Hansen said that the ESA had contacted authorities in Norway and intends to ask “how Norway is going to rectify this serious issue”.


Norway plans to issue holiday pay to people furloughed and unemployed in 2020

Nav, Norway’s public welfare agency, is preparing to issue holiday pay on unemployment benefits before the summer, even though the scheme is yet to be adopted.

Norway plans to issue holiday pay to people furloughed and unemployed in 2020
Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

According to Norwegian employment law, employees have the right to holiday pay  amounting to 10.2 or 12 percent of annual salary from the previous year. Freelancers and independent contractors normally do not.

Under a recently-proposed scheme, people who are eligible will receive 10.2 percent of their unemployment benefits as holiday pay from Nav, the national agency which administers public welfare.

Earlier this year, the ‘green’ and ‘red’ parties on Norway’s left made demands for holiday pay on unemployment benefits for the unemployed and laid-off workers (permittert in Norwegian). Permittering refers to people laid off or furloughed or not working their full hours due to Covid-19 restrictions or their consequences.

The government agreed to part of those demands and presented proposals at the end of March. 

READ MORE: ‘Fellesferie’: What you need to know about holiday pay in Norway

Holiday pay on unemployment benefits is scheduled to be be reviewed again in parliament to smooth over some of the finer details of the proposal. But Nav plans to pay out the holiday before the summer and it should automatically enter your account if you are registered and eligible, the agency has said.

“Nav has initiated work on such a solution, so if it is adopted, it now looks like we will receive payment before the summer holidays,” Nav preparations manager Yngvar Åsholt told trade union news media FriFagbevegelse.

Many people will probably be entitled to holiday pay on unemployment benefits that they received in 2020.

The government’s proposal allows for:

  • Holiday pay on unemployment benefits, calculated at 10.2 percent of paid unemployment benefits during the calculation period.
  • The calculation for payment in 2021 is set for April-December 2020. Only people who received unemployment benefits during this period will be entitled to holiday pay.
  • Only those who were unemployed or laid off for more than eight weeks receive holiday pay.
  • A maximum of 25,000 kroner will be paid in holiday pay. If this limit had not been set, people who were out of work for the entire period could have received up to 33,000 kroner in holiday pay for the period April-December 2020. 
  • Persons who, as of June 8th, 2021, are entitled to four weeks holiday with unemployment benefits, will not receive holiday benefits.
  • Persons who have been laid off for 52 weeks on June 8th or later can both take four weeks holiday with unemployment benefits this summer and receive holiday pay benefits for unemployment benefits.