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Working hours and overtime

Specific advice

  • Remember that your rights concerning working hours can be decided in your contract of employment and in collective agreements, as an addition to the legal basis.
  • Overtime above 200 hours per year must be voluntary from the employee. In addition, agreements must be signed from the trade union, or a permission from The Labour Inspection Authority.

The Working Environment Act defines working hours as time when the employee is at the disposal of the employer. The time the employee is not at the disposal of the employer is referred to as off-duty time.

Working hours

There are limits for how much you may work per 24-hour day and per week. These limits are laid down in the Working Environment Act, but may also be regulated by your employment contract and by any collective agreements.

The limits prescribed by the Working Environment Act for normal working hours are:

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

If you work shifts, nights or Sundays, normal working hours are 38 or 36 hours a week. The duration and disposition of the daily and weekly working hours must be stated in your employment contract.

The employer shall keep an account of the employee’s working hours.

Calculation on the basis of a fixed average

The normal working hours may be calculated on the basis of a fixed average. This means that you may work more than the limit for normal working hours during certain periods in exchange for working correspondingly shorter hours during other periods. The average number of hours worked must be within the limits for normal working hours.

Calculation on the basis of a fixed average may be agreed in writing between the employer and the employee, be laid down in a collective agreement between the employer and a group of employees or be practised in accordance with a dispensation granted by the Labour Inspection Authority.

Agreement between the employee and the employer:
For a period of up to one year, working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 9 hours per 24 hours
  • 48 hours per 7 days

However, the average number of hours in the period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours.

Agreement between the employer and employees’ representatives in an undertaking bound by a collective pay agreement.
For a period of up to one year, working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 10 hours per 24 hours
  • 54 hours per 7 days

However, the average number of hours in the period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours. Nor may extended working hours be worked continuously for more than eight weeks.

On the consent of the Labour Inspection Authority:

For a period of up to 26 weeks, working hours may be distributed as follows:

  • 13 hours per 24 hours
  • 48 hours per 7 days or 48 hours on average during a period of 8 weeks

However, the average number of hours in the period must not exceed the statutory limits for normal working hours.

Overtime

Time worked in excess of the statutory limits for normal working hours shall be regarded as overtime.

Overtime is only permitted when there is an exceptional and time-limited need for it. Overtime may not therefore be used as a permanent arrangement. 

Limits for overtime

The employer may decide that you shall work overtime for a period of up to: 

  • 10 hours per 7 days
  • 25 hours per 4 consecutive weeks
  • 200 hours per 52 weeks

Total working hours must not exceed 13 hours per 24 hours. Nor must total working hours exceed 48 hours per 7 days.

The limit of 48 hours may be calculated on the basis of a fixed average over a period of 8 weeks. This means that more than 48 hours may be worked in some weeks in exchange for working correspondingly shorter hours in other weeks.

Overtime by agreement with the employees’ representatives

In undertakings bound by collective agreements, the employer and employees’ representatives may agree on extended overtime of up to: 

  • 15 hours per 7 days.
  • 40 hours per 4 consecutive weeks.
  • 300 hours per 52 weeks.


Overtime work within these limits may only be assigned to employees who are willing to carry it out.

Exceptions from the rule for total working hours may be agreed, but it is not permitted to work more than 16 hours during a 24-hour day. 

Overtime with the permission of the Labour Inspection Authority

In response to an application from the employer, the Labour Inspection Authority may permit extended overtime work of:

  • up to 20 hours per 7 days
  • up to 200 hours during a period of 26 weeks

Overtime work within these limits may only be assigned to employees who are willing to carry it out.

You may maximally work 400 hours overtime per 52 weeks.

Overtime pay

When you work overtime, you are entitled to a supplement of at least 40 per cent of the agreed hourly pay. It is not permitted to agree a lower percentage rate.

Time off in lieu of overtime may be agreed on an hour-for-hour basis. However, time off in lieu of the minimum overtime supplement of 40 per cent may not be agreed. This shall be paid.

In collective agreements, more favourable terms are often agreed than the minimum entitlements provided by the Act. Examples are: 

  • Overtime supplement higher than 40 per cent
  • Entitlement to overtime pay for work in excess of the agreed working hours (e.g. in excess of 37.5 hours, and not 40, which is the statutory limit for normal working hours)

 

See also