Law Library Stacks

Back to Family and Medical Leave Benefits

Norwegian workers, including military personnel, are entitled to leave during pregnancy; following a birth; and to care for young children, sick children, dying family members, and other family members for a limited period.  Leave can be both paid and unpaid.

I.  Introduction

Military service is semi-mandatory in Norway.  Although all men (and soon all women as well) are called to a so-called draft where they must try out for the military, not all must serve.[1]  Women currently serve on a voluntary basis and in 2013 constituted 17% of military personnel.[2]  Beginning in 2016 women born after January 1, 1997, will be drafted upon their nineteenth birthday on the same terms as their male peers.[3] 

All Norwegians who serve as first-year recruits have twenty general days of leave (permisjon) each year.  In addition, military personnel are granted leave in a number of cases, mainly for family reasons.  The twenty days of general leave are in addition to leave granted around major holidays such as Christmas.[4]

The right to annual leave is regulated in the Work Environment Act (Arbeidsmiljøloven).[5]  The parental insurance system, which determines compensation during leave for all workers, is regulated in Chapter 14 of the Insurance Act (Folketrygdloven).[6] The system is financed by Norwegian taxpayers and by fees from international workers.[7]

There is no exception for military personnel.  The same compensation scheme and rights to leave apply.  However, the military applies special rules for recruits who are completing their first service year with the military (värneplikten).[8]

Back to Top

II.  Maternity Leave

Expectant mothers who cannot continue to work during their pregnancy for risk of harming the baby are entitled to paid pregnancy leave.[9] All mothers are also entitled to up to twelve weeks of leave during the pregnancy.[10] If the pregnancy is complicated the mother has the right to take sick leave as for any other condition.

The mother has the sole right to take the first six weeks after birth for maternity leave and may also take three weeks of paid leave prior to birth.[11] Thereafter, the parents have a joint one year of leave to care for the child.[12] A single parent may take leave for as long as two years.[13]

Note that the right to leave and the right to paid leave are not the same.  Norwegian mothers always have a right to leave but may not always have a right to the insured amount of their last salary.  Nursing mothers who work at least seven hours a day have the right to at least one hour a day of paid leave to nurse their children.[14] If a mother works less than seven hours a day, she has the same right but not to paid leave.[15]

Back to Top

III.  Paternity Leave

Fathers and co-mothers (homosexual partners) have the right to take two weeks of paid leave in connection with the birth of a child in order to assist the mother.[16]  If the mother and father (or co-mother) do not live together, these two weeks may be used by the person who lives with the mother.[17]  Fathers also have ten weeks of paid leave that only they can take; if not used they are lost and cannot be transferred to the mother.[18]

Back to Top

IV.  Adoption and Leave Rights

Both parents have the right to two weeks of paid leave on the arrival of an adopted child.[19] The same rules for paid parental leave for a natural birth apply to an adoption.[20] However, to receive this benefit the mother or father must apply before the adoption.

Surrogacy is not acknowledged in Norway.  The mother who gives birth to the child is the legal mother of the child.  However, a mother who has given birth to a child may transfer the legal right to the child through adoption.[21]

Back to Top

V.  Parental Leave

Homosexual partners, called co-mothers, have the same legal rights as fathers (see Part III, above).

Back to Top

VI.  Family or Caregiver Leave

A.    Care for a Sick Child

Norwegian workers have the right to take leave in order to care for a sick child who is less than twelve years old.[22] Workers who have one child have the right to ten paid days of leave whereas parents with more than one child have the right to paid leave of fifteen days.[23]

In addition, workers (including military personnel) have the right to leave for more serious illnesses when the child is above twelve year of age.[24]

B.     Care for Other Family Member

Workers have the right to sixty days of leave to care for a dying family member and ten days of general care for other family members such as parents, partners, and children above twelve years of age.[25]

Back to Top

VII.  Bereavement

The Work Environment Act does not specify any right to leave in connection with bereavement. Because the military gives leave for extraordinary family circumstances, however, it is likely that military personnel would be given bereavement leave.[26]

Back to Top

Prepared by Elin Hofverberg
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
June 2014

[1] Korleis bli vernepliktig, Forsvaret (Feb. 24, 2014),

[3] Id.

[4] Permisjonar og heimreiser, Forsvaret (Oct. 18, 2013), tjeneste/sider/permisjonar.aspx.  

[5] Lov om arbeidsmiljø, arbeidstid og stillingsvern m.m. (arbeidsmiljøloven) [Work Environment Act] LOV-2005-06-17-62.  See also Lov om ferie (ferieloven) [Act on Leave] (LOV 1988-04-29-21),

[7] Medlemskap i den norske folketrygden, NAV (Sept. 27, 2013), folketrygden.359342.cms.

[10] Work Environment Act § 12-2.

[11] Id. § 12-4.

[12] Id. § 12-5.

[13] Id. §12-5(3).

[14] Id. §12-8.

[15] Id.

[16] Id. § 12-3.

[17] Id. § 12-3, para. 2.

[19] The Father/Co-mother’s Rights on Birth/Adoption, University of Oslo (Dec. 2, 2013; updated May 12, 2014),

[20] Rundskrift till §14-5 Generelle bestemmelser Folketrygdeloven, NAV, edited Mar. 27, 2014,

[21] Id.

[22] Id. § 12-9.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id. § 12-10.

[26] See,e.g.,Soldathåndboken, supra note 8.

Back to Top

Last Updated: 06/06/2015