Ordinary Working Hours in Norway Explained

Norway is known to have one of the best work-life-balances in the world, much thanks to a high focus on worker’s rights. But how long exactly are the ordinary working hours in Norway, and how long are you required to work per day?

Ordinary working hours in Norway are 8 hours for a full-time position, often from 8AM to 4PM, and includes 30 minutes to eat lunch. A full-time position is either 37.5 or 40 hours per week.

These are the ordinary working hours for most people in Norway, but while there are laws and regulations to govern it (which we’ll come back to soon), your employment contract is what actually determines your working hours and work time.

There are also many different exceptions to the ordinary working hours, so keep reading to learn all there is to normal work hours in Norway!

The Barcode district in Bjørvika, Oslo
The Barcode district in Bjørvika, Oslo. Photo published with permission.

Maximum working hours in Norway

The Norwegian law constitutes normal working hours as maximum:

  • 9 hours per 24 hours.
  • 40 hours per 7 days.

This is the standard maximum normal working hours for a full-time employee, but there are certainly a lot of exceptions to this general rule.

One of the exceptions is if you are working shifts, at night or on Sunday and other public holidays. In these cases, normal working hours are either 36 or 38 hours per week, depending on your contract.

Some employees have flexible schedules where they work much more at certain periods, and less at other times (such as teachers). This is both normal and legal, but will require more than 9 hours of work during the busy periods.

There is also an exception for employees who agree to work overtime, which we will look closer at in a second.

But before we’ll look at overtime, let’s also take a look at the absolute max working hours.

You can work a max of 13 hours per 24 hours, or 54 hours per week even if you have agreed to a flexible work schedule. These can only be extended if you agree to work overtime.

Construction worker
Construction worker. Photo published with permission.

Usual working hours in Norway

There is no set work hours in the Norwegian law, and you and your employer are OK to agree upon your working hours.

That said, most offices have regular work hours be either 8 AM to 4 PM, or 9 AM to 5 PM.

You have the right to certain benefits if you work nights or shift, such as increased salary or shorter working hours.

Generally speaking, your working hours should be specified in your contract so that both you and your boss are in agreement when you are expected to work.

Working at night and on Sundays

It’s illegal to hire someone to work on Sundays, at night or at public holidays unless there is reason that the work needs to be done at these time periods. This is why most Norwegian stores are closed on Sundays.

This means that most people have nights, Sundays and public holidays off, unless you have a good reason for needing to be at work, such as for doctors, emergency services, bar and night club employees and other positions that require night-time workers.

Night work is defined between 9 PM and 6 AM.

Carl Johan in Oslo at night
Carl Johan in Oslo at night. Photo published with permission.

Rest period

When working in Norway, you do have the right to get a rest period between your work shifts.

The general rule for rest periods are:

  • 11 hours of continuous off-time rest per 24 hours.
  • 35 hours of continuous off-time rest per 7 days.

You are allowed to agree to shorter or longer rest periods depending on your work contract and union agreements, so these rates are not set in stone. There are also many different exceptions, such as for people working shifts.

Your rights to getting breaks in Norway

You have the right to get 30 minutes lunch break if you are working more than 5 hours consecutively. You are not entitled to get paid during this period, unless you make an agreement to do so.

Many workplaces will have paid lunch break. This is great, but it will also prevent you from being able to leave the workplace for lunch, and it might require you to postpone your lunch in cases of emergency. The most common agreement is that you get paid break, but are required to stay in the office for your lunch break. Many employers will also require a flexible lunch break if you get a paid lunch break.

A street in Oslo.
A street in Oslo.

Working overtime in Norway

It’s perfectly legal to work overtime in Norway, but you are free to choose or decline all requests for working overtime.

Overtime is only meant for short-term periods where you specifically work for more hours. You can only work overtime if you are asked for it by your boss.

The general rule of thumb is that you get a minimum of 40 % addition pay when working overtime. So you get paid at least 140 % of your regular salary for that time period.

Most contracts give you the right to get much more than 40 % additional pay, but that depends on your contract. Many people have contracts that give them pretty much double the salary when working overtime.

You can not agree to work overtime permanently, and this is only supposed to be used for short-term projects.

Generally speaking, you waive a lot of the usual rights when agreeing to work overtime, seeing as this is considered an extraordinary event that you are free to decline if you want.

Strawberry workers
Foreign strawberry pickers from low-income countries are common in Norway. Photo published with permission.

Maximum working hours when working overtime

Even if you agree to work overtime, there are some absolute maximum limits to how much you can work.

The maximum length you can work when agreeing to work overtime in Norway is:

  • 16 hours per 24 hours.
  • A total of 400 overtime hours per calendar year.

There are a few exceptions to this, such as for doctors who will sometime be required to work for much more than this per year. But for most people, these are the absolute max limits to how much you can work.

The Norwegian work law is very complex and full of exceptions

Everything that has to do with regulations at the workplace in Norway is found in the law called “The Working Environment Act“, which is a long and detailed law with lots of different chapters and sections.

It’s available in English, so you can freely read up on it, but be warned, it’s long and complex. There are hundreds, if not thousands of small details and exceptions.

This means that this entire article is more like a general guideline to working hours in Norway, and things will vary in specific cases. Luckily, worker’s rights are a big deal in Norway, and you can always get en touch with “Arbeidstilsynet” if you have any questions or concerns over your workplace environment.

They have a lot of incredible information about your rights and obligations as a worker in Norway, and I urge you to check out their website if you have any workplace concerns.

You are also encouraged to join a trade union when working in Norway. Most people are member of one, and it’s not a controversial thing like it is in the United States. So join a trade union if you want your worker’s rights to be taken seriously!

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