Public Holidays and Compensations in Norway

For those who value free time, 2024 is really a year when you can take advantage of the days off we have in Norway. This year, many of public holidays fall on normal weekdays and that means time off for most employees and some companies also have their own agreements when employees take the day or half the day off before the public holiday. Let’s go through all public holidays we have in 2024 and discuss what consequences they have on the employee’s salary.

Public holidays in 2024

  • We start the year as usual with the New Year’s Day (Monday 1st January).
  • The next public holidays will be in March this year due to Easter holidays. 28th March is Maundy Thursday and 29th March is Good Friday.  Easter Sunday is on Sunday 31st March and some companies (for instance stores) have shorter opening hours the day before, on Saturday 30th March. Easter Monday is on Monday 1st of April. Some companies give their employees the day or half the day off from the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday, but it is not an official public holiday.
  • When we come to May, we get a total of 4 days off. 1st May is the International Worker’s Day and this year it is on Wednesday. The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ is celebrated this year on 9th May, which is a Thursday. Many employees will combine this day with taking Friday off to have a mini vacation. Next week there is another day off, Constitution Day which is celebrated on Friday 17th May. This year, this day off is followed by Pentecost on Sunday 19th May, which means that Monday 20th May will be Pentecost Monday. The Saturday before Pentecost is not a public holiday, but many shops have shorter opening hours and close latest at 16:00.
  • The next public holidays will not come until December. Christmas Eve is on Tuesday 24th December and some companies give their employees that day or half day off, but otherwise it is a working day. Wednesday 25th December is the Christmas Day and Thursday 26th December is the Second Day of Christmas and these two days are public holidays and therefore most employees usually have time off.

Legal entitlements for employees

Generally, employees have time off on all public holidays and Sundays (which are also considered as public holidays). However, there are still several exceptions for situations when an employee can and need to work on public holidays. The first exception allows work in those cases when the nature of the work makes it necessary. It can for instance be health institutions, security guards, newspapers, hotels and factories which operate 24 hours shift schedules.

The second exception applies to points of sale. For instance, cafes, restaurants, petrol stations, museums, kiosks and shops under 100 square meters. Finally, the exception applies to those companies which have a collective agreement (“tariffavtale”). It is possible to have an agreement to work on Sundays or other public holidays if there is a time-limited and special need for this.

Holiday pay and salary on public holidays

Many people wonder if holiday pay is affected by public holidays, so let’s take a look at this topic now. Holiday pay in Norway is earned the year before payment. The minimum rate is 10,2 % of the salary earned in the previous year, but many companies which have a collective agreement use a higher rate of 12 %. If you are employed in a company where the holiday pay rate is 10,2 %, that means you are entitled to 4 weeks’ holiday + one day each year. If the rate is 12%, it means you have a 5 week holiday. It is quite common in Norway that all accrued holiday pay is paid out in June instead of regular salary.  However, we must clarify that the calculation of holiday pay is based on so-called working days (Monday to Saturday) and this gives an average of 26 working days per month. 5 weeks’ holiday gives therefore 30 working days (5 weeks*6 working days= 30). When paying holiday pay, the employee must therefore be deducted 4 working days’ salary. If you have 4 weeks’ + 1 day holiday, that gives 25 working days. Therefore, with the 10,2 % rate on holiday pay, employees receive an addition corresponding to 1/26 of their salary.

Since the holiday pay is usually paid in June when we have no other days off, the calculation will be as we described above for these employees who have a fixed monthly salary. For hourly workers holiday pay is simply added to the salary for hours from the previous month and no deduction or addition is needed. It can also be useful to know the rules regarding salary on public holidays. If the employee has a fixed monthly salary, the payment will be the same regardless of how many public holidays there are in the month. The salary will therefore be the same if an employee works every single working day in a month when there are no days off and for instance in March when we have days off due to Easter or in May when there are often many days off each year. For an employee with an hourly salary, the situation is different. In this case employees only gets paid for the days they work. If an employee has a day off on a public holiday, there will not be any compensation.

Generally for companies which operate on public holidays, employees get a regular salary. However, many of these have a collective agreement and that means a compensation for a public holiday needs to be paid in addition to regular salary which is at least 50 % of the normal salary.

International Worker’s Day and Constitution Day

There are own rules which apply for International Worker’s Day and Constitution Day when they are on another day other than Sunday or another public holiday. In these cases, an employee receives full salary even if he or she doesn’t work that day, and this applies also to those who work on hourly basis. For example, if hourly employee works every Thursday and 1st May falls on a Thursday, the employee has that day off, but still gets paid. The condition for receiving salary on this day when having a day off for hourly employees is that employee has been employed for 30 consecutive days before this public holiday. If employee works on a such day, the same compensation as on Sundays will be given, at least 50 % in addition to the normal salary. If 1st May or 17th May falls on Sunday, hourly employes who have time off will not be paid anything, while those who work will be paid the same as if they worked on a normal Sunday, both normal salary and Sunday compensation. Other compensations can also be agreed in the employment contract.

Employer’s obligations

Finally, we can mention some obligations that an employer needs to comply with when it comes to working on public holidays. If an employee work on a Sunday or another public holiday, the employee must usually have the following Sunday off. Exceptions to the rule can be made by written agreement with the employee. In these cases, it will be made an agreement based on the average calculation of Sunday and public holidays. In this case employee must have at least every 4th Sunday off. In addition, employees who work on Sundays are entitled to get Sunday off either immediately before or after vacation.

Do you want to know more about public holidays and payroll in Norway? Please contact us here.

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