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In Norway, employees can be ‘permittert’ from their job, meaning they are ‘temporarily laid off’ (furloughed).

Read more about temporary layoffs in Norway during the coronavirus crisis

What happens to my membership if I am laid off?

Watch a short video with questions and answers about layoffs

Coronavirus: Questions and answers regarding layoffs:

Basis for layoffs – Notification

Can I be laid off because of the coronavirus?

The corona virus does not in itself give the enterprise the opportunity to lay off employees. Layoffs are only applicable where the enterprise has objective grounds. It will be objective grounds if the enterprise gets employment problems because of the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

It is important to emphasize that the enterprise must nevertheless have a factual basis for layoffs, and it is only employment problems in what must be assumed to be for a temporary period that can provide such a factual basis. The employment problems may be that the enterprise, for economic reasons, is unable to pay wages or otherwise employ the employees in a proper manner. The basis for layoffs must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If the problems are considered permanent, there is no basis for layoffs. Then dismissal should be considered.

For how long can I be laid off?

In principle, the length of the layoff period is 26 weeks. This is related to the fact that layoffs shall only be used in cases where it is assumed that the basis for the layoff is of a temporary nature.

On 1 November 2020, the Government extended the layoff period to 52 weeks. At the same time, an employer period II was introduced, which applies to everyone who has been laid off for 30 weeks or more as of 1 January 2021. Those laid off are thus secured income for 52 weeks in the following way:

  1. Employer period I - 10 days with salary from the employer (2 weeks)
  2. Unemployment benefits during layoff - 30 weeks
  3. Employer period II - 5 days with salary from the employer (1 week)
  4. Unemployment benefit for another 19 weeks

Following this (as of January 2021), the Government has chosen to extend the layoff period to 1 July 2021. The right to unemployment benefits is also extended for all recipients of unemployment benefits, so that those approaching their maximum limit can keep unemployment benefits until 1 July. The scheme with an increased unemployment benefit rate is extended accordingly. The scheme with an increased rate applies to everyone who has been granted unemployment benefits since 20 March 2020.

Does the employer have an obligation to notify?

The employer is obliged to notify the employees before a layoff. The main rule is 14 days’ notice.

When laying off due to unforeseen events, the deadline is 2 days, cf. the Working Environment Act, Section 15-3. However, the length of the deadline is something that is initially agreed between the employer and the employees.

Layoffs due to the corona virus may be expected or unforeseen. The reason for the length of the notification should therefore be clearly stated in the layoff notification.

An unforeseen incident is described in more detail in section 15-3 (10) of the Working Environment Act:

"If operations must wholly or partly be suspended owing to accidents, natural disasters or other unforeseeable events …"

The coronavirus can be such an unforeseen event that may entitle the employer to a 2-day notice period. However, this does not mean that there is a general right to lay off with this short deadline. The basis for layoffs and the deadlines must be specifically assessed in each case. The main rule of 14 days’ notice should always be the starting point.

It is worth noting that in light of the current situation, where many municipalities in Norway have introduced the strictest measures since March 12, it may be that many employers consider themselves entitled to apply a 2-day notice instead of 14 days, which is the main rule. The sudden closure of society can constitute such an unforeseen event that provides a basis for a short notice. At the same time, Forskerforbundet believes that all layoffs must be seen in the light of the specific circumstances of the individual business and that the main rule should always be the starting point.

The employer must pay full wages during the notice period.

What should be included in the layoff notice?

The layoff notice shall state the estimated length. NAV must be notified if at least 10 employees will be laid off without pay, or will have their weekly working hours reduced by more than 50 percent for more than four weeks.

The layoff notice must also be dated, and it must specify the notice period, the reason for the layoff, the degree of layoff, the length of the layoff period and the number of days the employer has a statutory pay obligation.

The employer is also responsible for submitting minutes from negotiation meetings with the employees or other similar documentation. It must be clear what the employer has done to avoid layoffs, and that the employer has in this way done what one can reasonably expect.

The minutes shall, among other things, state whether there is agreement on these points:

  • whether the layoff is justified
  • whether the layoff is due to a lack of work or other factors that the employer cannot influence
  • whether the employer has done what may reasonably be required to avoid layoffs

The circular on unemployment benefits in connection with layoffs states more about the requirements for the employer in layoffs (Norwegian only):

Rundskriv til permitteringslønnsloven – Arbeidsgivers lønnsplikt og dagpenger ved permittering

What happens if I have only been partially laid off and the employer wants to extend the degree of layoff?

The employer is obliged to issue a new layoff notice, which follows the rules above.

If you, as a member or union representative, are in doubt about the basis for layoffs or have other questions, you should contact your local union representative or the central staff of Forskerforbundet.

See further information on the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority's website:

Arbeidstilsynet: Coronavirus: Information for employers and workers

Layoffs in the public sector

State employees cannot be laid off.

As a general rule, employees in municipalities, county councils and businesses that are substantially financed from public budgets should not be laid off. The coronavirus is considered an unforeseen event and may provide the basis for layoffs in such businesses. It is a prerequisite that the business loses revenue and / or loses work as a result of the corona pandemic.

It is important to remember that there must be a factual basis for using layoffs in these cases, and that a concrete assessment must always be made before layoffs are implemented.

Employees who are laid off will be entitled to unemployment benefits.

Layoffs are to a small extent based on statutory rules. The non-statutory rules are therefore based on a number of collective agreements (such as the Basic Agreement between LO and NHO), customary and case law. In accordance with this, private and public enterprises outside the state have the right to use layoffs in accordance with the existing collective agreements.

Does a seniority principle apply when the employer decides who is to be laid off?

It depends on whether the company is bound by a collective agreement or not, and whether the collective agreement specifies further criteria for selection. If seniority is not specifically referred to as a criterion, selection must be objectively justified.

See further information on the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority's website:

Arbeidstilsynet: Coronavirus: Information for employers and workers

Can someone who is on maternity leave be laid off?

You can be laid off even if you are on maternity leave. The period of full parental allowance granted and commenced prior to layoff is retained. The same applies to a postponement granted before the layoff. You also keep the graded parental allowance even if you are laid off. What you should be aware of is that unemployment benefit is not paid together with parental benefit if you receive more than 50 percent parental benefit.

NAV: Parental benefit, lump-sum grant and pregnancy benefit

Salary during the employer period 

Who pays my salary during the layoff?

Normally, the employer has had to pay wages to the laid off for the first 15 days, in what is called the employer period. The employer period occurs when the 14-day notice period expires.

In order to limit the financial burden on employers, the employer period has been reduced to two days.

The Parliament (Stortinget) has allocated funds for a temporary benefit that will ensure full pay to laid-off workers, up to 6G (the basic amount in the National Insurance Scheme), for an additional 18 days.

The new temporary scheme extends the total time laid-off receives full pay at the start of the layoff period from 15 days to 20 days, while at the same time the employer's pay obligation on layoff is reduced from 15 days to 2 days.

The new scheme applies to everyone affected by the reduction of the employer period. This means that even those who are not entitled to unemployment benefits, such as students who are laid off, will receive salary compensation for 18 days.

If the layoff lasts for more than 20 days, the employee must apply for unemployment benefits. Benefits today amount to approx. 60% of income.

The Parliament (Stortinget) has also decided that those with income below NOK 300,000 (3G) shall be guaranteed a minimum of 80% of their income as a basis for unemployment benefits.

For income between 300,000 - 600,000, the unemployment benefits must at least equal 62.4% of the basis.

To calculate the unemployment benefits for employees with an income above NOK 300,000, one first calculates 80% of 300,000. Subsequently, 62.4% of the income exceeding 300,000 is calculated.

The increased unemployment benefit rate has been extended until 1 July 2021, see above.

NAV: Unemployment benefit

Entitlement to unemployment benefit

What if you come from countries outside the EEA – are you entitled to unemployment benefit?

If you are from a country outside the EEA area and have legal residence in Norway as a skilled worker, you will as a rule not be entitled to unemployment benefit.

Is there an upper age limit for entitlement to unemployment benefit?

Pursuant to section 4-23 of the National Insurance Act, the right to unemployment benefit lapses when you reach the age of 67.

Will unemployment benefit affect the basis for parental benefit?

Yes, it can affect the calculation. Contact your local NAV office.

NAV: information regarding the parental benefit

Various questions

Can you be laid off if you are on sick leave?

You can be laid off even if you are on sick leave. As long as you are on sick leave, you will receive sick pay. If you are notified in the notice period of 14 days (in some cases 2 days), you will receive regular salary from your employer during the remainder of the notice period.

If you recover after the notice period, you receive wages from the employer during the period the employer has a pay obligation. From 20 March this period is changed to 2 days. The state then takes over the payment responsibility.

Can you temporarily work for another employer while you are laid off?

You have the opportunity to work for others, but what you receive in pay will be reduced in the unemployment benefit payments from NAV.

It may be that the new job is in direct competition with the original employer. Then it should be clarified whether this type of work is accepted or not before undertaking this work.

Do employees between the ages of 62 and 67, who take out AFP and national insurance while working, have a claim for unemployment benefit from NAV if they are laid off?

According to NAV, you are entitled to this, provided you fulfil the conditions for receiving unemployment benefit.

What happens to my membership if I am laid off?

Members who are laid off retain full membership rights and continue as members of their local Forskerforbundet branch. If you are laid off, you will only have to pay a membership fee of NOK 46 per month (552 per year). If you are partially laid off (50 % or more), you will pay a reduced membership fee of NOK 260 per month. Your membership insurance is maintained. Use Email to inform us of changes in your work situation.


Article updated 9 February 2021

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