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How To (Not) Get Fired In Norway

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The rules and regulations for dismissing employees in Norway may be different from what you're used to. Here's what you need to know about the process.

In some countries you can get fired for almost any reason. In Canada, for example, people can get fired for using too many sick kids days. Could that happen in Norway?

Employee being fired from their job in Norway

If you feel you don’t get along with your boss or are afraid you might get fired, here is what you should know about dismissal in Norway.

First things first, an employer in Norway can’t go Trump style (The Apprentice) and fire you on the spot without having something in writing. A dismissal has to be on paper.

Can you get fired on the spot?

It is possible, but very unlikely. Technically, it is called a summary dismissal, and the employer can ask you to leave immediately. You have no right to remain in the position.

In order for this to happen, you must have done something deliberately wrong. And I’m not talking about being drunk and stupid at a Christmas party. Examples include serious disloyalty, bullying or criminal offences.

You can also be dismissed for illegitimate leave, but very unlikely for using too many sick kids days. If your children, in fact, are sick.

Packing up after being fired.

Even if you don’t show up for days without any reason or doctor’s note, most employers would give you a warning first and not fire you on the spot.

Suspension

If an employer suspects you are guilty of something that may involve a summary dismissal, they can suspend you while the matter is investigated. You are entitled to full pay until the suspension is terminated.

When you don’t get along with your boss

If you feel you don’t get along with your boss,or don’t do a good job, can she fire you?

Yes you can get fired for lack of suitability for the work, lack of proficiency or lack of reliability.

However, the employer should give you a written warning in advance, and give you a chance to improve your work performance. But it could also be that the problem is not on your side.

You should get training in a language you understand

Firstly, inadequate job performance may be a result of lack of training. The extent of the training depends on age, education and the complexity of the work. Everyone should also know what is expected and what they must prioritize.

Office training course

All of this is vested in the Norwegian Working Environment Act. The employer also has to make sure this is done in a language you understand.

Constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal is when your employer makes your life at work so intolerable, that you quit voluntarily.

This happens more often than most people would think, and maybe even more in Norway than in other countries because workers are so protected from dismissals.

Examples are workplace bullying, giving you work you are overqualified for or not giving you any work at all, so you end up feeling useless.

Other examples are not giving proper training or not creating a safe work environment. It is often very hard to prove, or even realize.

Most people who are in this situation, end up leaving without telling anyone the real reason they quit.

Maybe this is not the right job for you

This may go without saying, but it is always a possibility you have for a job that just is not right for you, and maybe it is better to try to apply for other work.

If you suspect you will get fired

Rule number one when having problems at work is usually: don’t involve more people than necessary and solve problems at the lowest level possible.

Office meeting in Norway

If you are unsure of your boss’ satisfaction, it may often be a good thing to take the bull by the horns. Initiate a conversation about expectations and priorities and maybe ask for more training or guidance.

This is often easier said than done. If you don’t have the courage or don’t feel this is not a very smart move, seek advice from people you can trust.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority can give general advice, but has no authority to intervene or represent any party. If you are in a union, they can help legally, and participate in meetings with the employer as your representative.

You could also talk to the safety representative, which all Norwegian companies with more than 10 employees should have. All of the above have a duty of confidentiality.

In any case, it is always a good idea to collect evidence, like email and letters, and send them to a private email account.

Redundancies or closing down the company

This is not unusual. An employer can fire you due to for example permanent loss of revenue (downsizing), restructuring or closing down the company. However, there are certain measures the employer has to take.

Firstly, they have to consider if there is other suitable work within the company. Secondly, you may also be entitled to preferential rights to vacant positions in the future.

A business meeting in Norway

Even if the company is closing down, the employer has to consider if any of the activities can be taken over by employees.

Temporary lay-offs

If the company loses revenue and believes this is temporary, they may temporarily lay off people, known in Norwegian as permittering.

This means you are still hired, but don't meet up at work. The employer doesn’t pay salary (except the first 14 days), and you get support from NAV.

During the pandemic, a lot of people got laid off in the hospitality and entertainment industry, but most of them went back to their jobs when society started to open up again.

Age (pension)

Although it is not considered a dismissal, an employer can terminate a working contract due to age. The maximum pension age in Norway is 72 years, although a lower age limit may apply. 

Temporary contracts 

If you are hired temporarily, the contract expires automatically. If you have worked for more than a year, the employer has to give you a written notice at least one month in advance.

Periods of notice

The period of notice starts the 1st in the month after the dismissal. How long the period of notice is, depends on how long you have been working for the company.

Coworkers in Norway

The minimum period of notice is 14 days (during a trial period), and maximum six months (contracts more than 10 years for people over 60 years). 

Groups with special protection

Some groups have special protection of dismissal: people with long-term illness, during pregnancy, birth and adoption, and military service.

When you have been fired 

If you feel that you are unfairly dismissed, ask the employer for a letter specifying the reason for the dismissal. The more you have in writing, the better.

If you consider taking legal action, the union may still be able to help you. Most private lawyers are also serious, and will tell you what your chances are in court, before starting to bill you.

But even though people in Norway have protection against unfair treatment and dismissals, it is often a high-risk project taking Norwegian employers to court.

Don’t work in the black market

None of this applies if you don’t have a legal contract. Employers are obliged to sign a contract of employment, and there are no exceptions.

Although it may be tempting due to high taxes and more available work, it is not smart to work in the black market and get paid in cash in Norway.

Of course it is illegal, but you also miss out on Norway’s generous benefits and have no support system. And, needless to say, you can also be fired on the spot without getting paid.

About Victoria Åsne Kinsella

Victoria Åsne Kinsella is a Norwegian married to a Canadian with two teenage sons. She works as a freelance writer following 20 years in public sector HR, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Toronto.

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2 thoughts on “How To (Not) Get Fired In Norway”

  1. If you are a member of a union:
    the local representative (or central if the company is small) can represent you in meetings with the employer, give you legal advice (they usually have law experts in the central organization) and give guidance and support.

    The employer is also actually obliged to discuss the matter with you and your representative (meaning union) before making a decision regarding dismissal with notice, (although the law states “to the extent that it is practically possible”, which makes for a few unlikely exceptions).

    With collective dismissals (more than 10 people), there is a more formal and lengthy process, involving all the union representatives. Then they negotiate on behalf of everyone, and not only their own members.

    Did that answer your question?

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