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WORKING IN NORWAY

Can I take time off work in Norway if my child is sick?

Balancing work and childcare can be a tricky situation, but it can be made even more difficult when your kid is sick. What are your legal rights when this happens in Norway?

Sick child
As of 2022, all workers in Norway are entitled to 20 care days per year if they have one or two children under the age of 12. Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

In Norway, as an employed or self-employed parent, you have the right to stay at home with your sick child and take time off work for a set number of days in a year, which are other referred to as “care days” of “days when you care for sick children” (called omsorgsdager or sykt barn-dager in Norwegian).

Did your child catch a cold? Does your child need to go to the doctor? Don’t fear – care days enable you to ensure your child gets the attention and care they need during stressful periods.

In this article, we will cover the rules that apply to most cases, as well as frequently asked questions on the issue.

Care days for sick children under the age of 12

First of all, know that individual factors influence the exact number of care days you have the right to, such as the number of children you have, your cohabitation or partnership situation, and whether your child suffers from chronic illnesses.

According to the state digital platform Altinn, as of 2022, all workers in Norway are entitled to 20 care days per year if they have one or two children under the age of 12. Workers with more than two children have the right to use 30 care days a year.

Furthermore, single parents and parents of chronically ill children in Norway can get even more care days.

The number of care days, in this case, is added up for each calendar year and not for an ongoing twelve-month period, as is the case when the employee is sick.

The employer only has to pay for the first ten care days in a calendar year – they can claim reimbursement from the NAV from the eleventh day.

You can find more details on care days on the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s (NAV) website here.

When to use care days

The care days can be used for several different purposes, including parents staying at home with their sick children, taking children to medical examinations or treatments, or when the child’s caregiver is ill.

Note that you cannot use your care days to stay with a child during holiday breaks or accompany your child to the dentist if the visit is unrelated to illness.

To have the right to care days that you can spend with sick children, you must first work for at least four weeks at your current employer.

When it comes to self-employed workers, they have the right to financial support from the NAV from the eleventh day that they spend at home with their sick children.

However, they need to provide the NAV with a medical certificate that confirms the child is sick.

Using multiple consecutive care days at a time

Norwegian employees have the right to spend multiple consecutive days with their children when they get sick.

However, they must present their employers with a self-prepared document describing the situation for the first couple of days.

In such cases, you will need to provide a self-prepared certificate for up to three consecutive days at a time. From the fourth day, your employer has the right to ask for an official sick leave certificate.

Employers can also allow employees to take hours off or “half-days” within work days to care for their children if they’re sick. In such instances, these hours and “half-days” are later calculated and added up into days.

Special situations

Employees in Norway may be entitled to more care days if they meet specific requirements or are in extraordinary situations.

For example, you can apply for more care days to the NAV if you take care of the child on your own, if your underage child suffers from a chronic disease, or if your child is underage and disabled.

You can also ask for more care days in the period up to and including December 31, 2022, in cases where the child must be kept at home due to special infection-prevention considerations (mostly related to the COVID-19 pandemic).

This also applies when the other parent of the child cannot take care of the child for six months or longer.

For more information, consult the relevant part of the Norwegian Working Environment Act.

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For members

NORWAY EXPLAINED

What are the rules for taking annual leave in Norway?

If you've just started working in Norway or if you've been employed in the country for a while but need clarification on its annual leave rules, this is what you need to know.

What are the rules for taking annual leave in Norway?

While annual leave isn’t among the top reasons people usually decide to move to Norway and work there, it is an important component of Norwegian work and social culture.

Compared to some other European countries, Norway has quite a generous annual leave policy, which ensures that workers have enough time to rest and recover from the stress of their jobs.

READ MORE: How to maximise Norway’s public holidays in 2024 – five essential tricks

The basic annual leave quota – and holiday pay

As an employee in Norway, you have both a right and a duty to take your annual holiday, and every employee in the country is entitled to at least 25 working days of annual leave each year.

This quota includes Saturdays as working days, which equates to approximately four weeks and one day of holiday per calendar year (Sundays and public holidays are not counted as working days).

When it comes to holiday pay, workers need to accumulate their holiday pay rights in their first year of employment.

Thus, as the amount of holiday pay you get is a collective monthly percentage of what you have made in the past year, you will not have earned holiday pay if you were not employed the previous year. 

However, you are still entitled to take leave days.

If you want to learn more about how holiday pay works in Norway, check out The Local’s explainer on the issue.

Collective agreements and additional holidays

While the minimum quota of 25 days of holidays is in place, employees can get even more holiday days than this legally required minimum.

Many workers in Norway are entitled to a five-week holiday through a collective agreement or separate agreements with their employer. This extra time off is often accompanied by an increased holiday pay rate.

Furthermore, if you’re nearing retirement, you’re in luck, as all employees aged 60 or over are entitled to an extra week of holidays.

Airport

You should discuss your holiday schedule with your employer well in advance – be sure to do so before booking a vacation outside of Norway. Photo by Hanna Kretsu on Unsplash

How to schedule and take leave in Norway

Per Norwegian laws, employers must ensure all employees take full annual leave.

It’s a good idea to have a chat with your boss about your holiday plans well in advance.

If you can’t agree on dates, your boss gets the final say on when you can take time off.

But don’t worry, in Norway, you’re guaranteed at least three weeks of continuous vacation time between June 1st and September 30th.

If you prefer, the rest of your holiday days can also be lumped together without any breaks.

Note that your boss can ask you to give them a heads-up about your vacation plans at least two months beforehand.

The relevant sections of the Norwegian Holiday Act, available here and here, provide more details on holiday scheduling and duration.

What you need to know about fellesferie 

The term fellesferie is used for the collective vacation period or general staff holiday period that many Norwegian companies stick to, typically occurring in July.

The concept of fellesferie is a tradition – companies aren’t legally obligated to adhere to it – but, in practice, you’ll find that may do. The Local has an entire article on how this tradition started and what makes it special.

How do holidays work if you’re ill – or on parental leave?

Of course, special situations and life events may also occur during or before your holidays.

If you fall ill before or during your leave, you may have a right to a new holiday – or to postpone your holiday.

Should you become sick before your holiday, you can ask your employer to postpone it until later in the holiday year.

You’ll need to get a medical certificate to prove that you’re ill and submit an official request for postponement by no later than the day before the holiday starts.

The right to defer or be granted a new holiday only applies to the statutory holiday period.

As an employee, you have the right, but not an obligation, to take statutory holidays during the period of leave when you receive parental benefit.

If you choose to defer it, the leave will be deferred by a period corresponding to your holiday.

Can I carry leave days forward – or take my leave in advance?

If you reach an agreement with your employer, you can also carry forward up to two weeks of the statutory holiday to the following year.

Similarly, you can also take up to two weeks of your holiday in advance.

However, make sure to check your employment contract (and collective agreement, if you fall under one), as the rules concerning the carrying forward of holiday and advance holiday may be set differently based on these contracts.

READ MORE: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement?

If you have an agreement that allows you to have extra holiday days on top of the statutory holiday quota, you can also agree with your employer that these additional holidays can be carried forward to the following year.

If you’re changing jobs, know that if you do not take your holidays during the current year before your employment ceases and move to a new employer before September 30th of the same year, you will be entitled to take your remaining holiday with your new employer.

For more information on the specifics of the holiday rules in Norway, consult the Norwegian Holiday Act (available in English).

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