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How do salary and wages work if you’re on strike in Norway

Each year, the wages of employees in Norway who fall under a collective agreement are subject to joint pay settlement negotiations. During this process, strikes often take place. But what happens to your salary during the strike?

If you're new to Norway's work culture and union arrangement, here's how a strike will affect your salary. Photo by Alicia Christin Gerald on Unsplash

A majority of all employees in Norway are covered by a collective agreement, which means that their wages are collectively negotiated on an annual basis.

These negotiations are usually carried out between employer interest organisations and labour union umbrella organisations, and – aside from salaries – they often involve discussions about benefits and working conditions.

In every collective negotiation cycle, the union members must prepare for the possibility of a strike. If you’re a newcomer to Norway’s work-life and union system, you might have a number of questions about what to expect during a strike.

One of the most pressing ones will likely be related to what happens to your income during the labour dispute.

What happens to your salary during a strike

Companies stop making salary payments to striking employees for the duration of the strike. Note that the salary you have accumulated at the point in time when the strike starts must be paid out.

However, union members on strike receive a strike allowance or compensation from their union. The compensation usually amounts to somewhere around 70 percent of your gross salary, but as it’s tax-free, people are typically paid roughly the same as their regular net salary. The strike allowance is intended to provide financial support to union members who are on strike.

Strike compensation payments can be paid starting from the month employees stop receiving wages, although it’s more common for the payments to be made the following month, as that is usually when employers register and process salary deductions.

The trade unions are responsible for registering and following up on which type of compensation individual members are entitled to. However, the process is not completely automated – union members often need to (digitally) fill in some paperwork and send it to the union.

Most employers in Norway give the trade unions access to necessary financial information and account numbers so that employees don’t have to provide this information to the unions themselves. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to have your payslip from the previous month available during the strike, either as a printout on paper or digitally stored.

After the trade union has made the necessary arrangements, the strike payments are made via online banking. The strike contributions are transferred to members’ accounts quickly after approval – as long as the bank account number the unions have registered is correct.

The effects of a strike on benefits

When a strike takes place, your employer’s salary obligations cease. The salary earned in the period before the strike occurs is paid out as soon as possible, and at the latest, on the first payday after the labour dispute has ended.

From the time a strike takes place, employees who are working outside the company are no longer entitled to lodging allowance. They are also not entitled to travel money back to their starting destination.

The employees’ right to use company cars, telephones, and similar benefits also ceases in the event of a strike, and workers who are on strike are not entitled to sick pay.

Agreed-upon holidays and holiday pay remain in effect regardless of the labour dispute. If the employer fails to pay out holiday pay, the holiday cannot be considered to have been completed during the absence.

Daily allowances are not granted to those who participate in a strike. The same applies to those laid off due to a strike.

Make sure to check for the detailed strike rules that apply in your case with your union organisation, as each union determines the level of the strike compensation – and other details – individually.

You can find examples of strike guidelines and further useful information from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and FriFagbevegelse here.

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Nordic countries urged to set common working from home rules

The Nordic countries should have common conditions on working from the place of residence, including working from home, to fulfil the objective of an integrated labour market, says a report by the region's Freedom of Movement Council.

Nordic countries urged to set common working from home rules

The proposal is part of a series of recommendations to simplify tax agreements to facilitate free movement of people and make the region “the most integrated” in the world by 2030, as agreed by Nordic Prime Ministers.

The Freedom of Movement Council argues that the pandemic revealed the flaws in the current system, as a large proportion of cross-border workers had to operate from home, facing taxation in two countries, different tax levels and mounting bureaucracy.

“Now that more companies are open to their employees working from home, the current Nordic tax agreement just isn’t keeping up. I hope this analysis will pave the way for dialogue and that the end result will be simplification and less bureaucracy,” said Karen Ellemann, secretary-general of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Internationally less known than EU free movement rules, the region has a special agreement on free movement of people that dates back to the 1950s.

Under the Nordic Passport Union, citizens can move within the region without travel documents or residence permits and enjoy more rights than those granted to EU citizens within the European Union. Non-EU residents, however, only partially benefit as they do not have the automatic right to work in another Nordic state.

The Nordic free movement area covers Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands and Åland. Greenland is not part of the Passport Union but is in practice subject to some of its provisions.

The Nordic governments set up the Freedom of Movement Council as an independent body to identify obstacles to this principle and propose how to remove them.

In an interview with The Local, chair Siv Friðleifsdóttir said the Council has identified over 100 barriers to free movement and prioritised 30. The tax system is one of them.

“The Nordic countries currently have several agreements that regulate cross-border and remote working. Common to all of them is that they’re based on the countries’ need to protect their tax base,” the Council notes.


The report, prepared by consultancies KPMG and Resonans Nordic, points at four problems in particular: rules for domestic work, registration obligations in more than one country for employers, as well as taxation of wages and pensions when working in another Nordic state.

The Council therefore proposes to set common conditions on “permanent establishment” when working in the country of residence, including from home. It also suggests to tax salaries in the country of employment and consider work from home in the country of residence equal to work in the country where the employer is located.

In addition, advance tax should be reported and collected in the employer’s country to avoid having different rules for the same salary.

Pension contributions should be mutually recognised as deductible in another Nordic states and returns taxed only under the legislation of the country where the pension plan is established, the Council argues.

In the Øresund region, between Denmark and Sweden, a fully integrated labour market could generate combined annual socio-economic gains of 2.9 billion Danish kroner, the report estimates.

“Our countries have a lot to gain from having a flexible common labour market. It can solve the problem of skills shortages in one country and the problem of unemployment in another. In other words, a functioning labour market is a strong catalyst for our countries’ economies,” says Siv Friðleifsdóttir, chair of the Freedom of Movement Council.

The full report is currently only available in Danish but translations are expected in the coming weeks.