Parat’s lawyers will help you with your employee rights regarding lay-offs as a result of the pandemic. You’ll find straightforward answers to your questions as an employee in Norway here. 

What does being ‘laid off’ mean? 
A lay-off is the employer’s unilateral right to terminate work to avoid paying wages. Therefore, when you are laid off, both your work duties and your employer’s obligation to pay wages cease for a period of time. The contract of employment and working conditions continue when you are laid off. 

What does it take to be laid off? 
It takes a lot for your employer to unilaterally change the contract of employment. What situations lead to an employer being able to lay-off employees is in the Basic Agreement. The requirement is that conditions must arise meaning that the company can no longer use the employed workforce. Examples for this include a lack of customers, tasks or raw materials, or stoppage of machinery. In addition, the company’s difficulty in being able to use the workforce must be temporary. If the company’s problem is long lasting, the employer must lay-off workers and downsize the workforce. 

Am I being completely or partially laid off? 
You can be both fully and partially laid off.  If you are not fully laid off and have to work part time, it is important to remember that you must be laid off at least 40% before you have the right to receive money from NAV for this (new interim rule as of 20/03/20).  But this limit is strict. If you work more than this limit, you lose all right to lay-off payments in the (14 day) period you work more. 

What notice or warning does the employer have to give me before a lay-off? 
The main rule is that the notice period for lay-offs should be 14 days. In the exceptional circumstances such as the one society is at the moment, the employer can, after an assessment of how the situation affects the company, give two days’ notice.

This period is calculated from the day after you receive the notification. If you receive a notification today, it should be 14 or two whole calendar days before the lay-off starts.   

What do I need to do when I receive notice of a lay-off? 
You must contact NAV and register that you have been laid off.  Use the notification as proof. 

What do I get paid while I am laid off? 
Until you are laid off, i.e. during the notice period, you will receive normal pay and work your usual hours for the employer.  When the notice period is over, you are laid off.

Under the new rules, you will continue to receive full pay from your employer for two days. This follows the Act relating to the obligation to pay wages during lay-offs.

From NAV, after two days of being laid off, you shall receive 18 days of unemployment benefit, equal to 100 percent of your wages, with a limit of up to an annual salary of 6 G. From day 21 of the lay-off, you will receive unemployment benefit. Unemployment benefit given is 80% of your wages up to 3 G and 62.4% of your wages between 3 and 6 G. 

What do I have to do when I am laid off? 
When you’re laid off, you have the same obligations as others receiving unemployment benefits.  This means that every 14 days, you must fill out registration cards for NAV, documenting how much you work.  As pointed out above, periods where you work more than the 60 percent limit will result in you losing all lay-off pay during that period.

As the contract of employment continues to be effective while you are laid off, you can be asked to return to work again on short notice (a matter of days). Nevertheless, you can take other work while you are laid off, but this must be stated on the registration card and to your employer.  

Who can be laid off? 

  • Any employee can be laid off.
  • Seniority can be waived for objective reasons when choosing who should be laid off first.
  • Union representatives can also be laid off, but the elected position for discussions and negotiations must be taken into account during lay-offs.
  • Employees on sick leave can also be laid off, but they continue to receive sickness benefit even during the lay-off (100 percent of annual earnings up to 6 G throughout the period).
  • You can also be laid off if you are on parental leave. You retain your benefit from NAV during the lay-off, but may lose extra benefits from your own employer after you are laid off (for example, the right to a full salary, even above 6 G).
  • If you are on care leave you can also be laid off, but your benefit continues as it was. 
  • Those already in a lay-off cannot be laid off.

What happens if I get sick after being laid off? 
Nothing much really changes. You will be entitled to sickness benefit instead, but this is that same amount as what you receive as in a lay-off period. If you are still ill after the lay-off is over, you will receive normal sickness benefit calculated from your salary before you were laid off. 

What happens to parental leave while I’m laid off? 
You are entitled to parental leave according to the National Insurance Act. But you do not receive extra benefits from your employer (for example, right to a full salary that is above 6 G). 

What happens if I want to resign while I’m laid off? 
You have the right to resign with the usual notice period.  Then you go into the notice period with your salary. If you want to resign after three months of being laid off because you have a new job, you can finish with 14 days notice.   

What happens if my workplace goes bankrupt while I’m laid off? 
Then a trustee (a lawyer who, on behalf of the court, takes over the management of the business) will have to consider whether to dismiss workers or continue operations.  Therefore, the employment does not automatically end in the event of bankruptcy. You will also be able to submit your payment entitlements (for example holiday pay) that may not be covered by the estate to the wage guarantee fund. The wage guarantee fund does not cover claims over 6 G, i.e. no claims for more than NOK 199,000.