The best guide for a successful relocation
Working in Norway
If you plan to work in Norway, you can count yourself lucky. According to the European Employee Index for 2010, Norway is the best country in the world in which to work! The report, which was conducted by Ennova, showed that 78 per cent of Norwegians feel secure in their job, 70 per cent find satisfaction in their work, and 62 per cent believe they could find another job if they wanted to. A strong economy and welfare state has created an environment of trust, confidence and optimism within the labour force.
If you come to Norway with a job, you can get right down to the business of working within a new culture. Norway’s work culture is generally very supportive of employees, and puts a strong emphasis on balancing the demands of one's work and home life. Your boss may even be concerned that you are working too hard or too much. Working hours are normally 8am to 4pm, with exceptions made for parents with small children, personal appointments, sickness, and national holidays. If there is a lot of snow or the day is unusually warm, the office may empty early. By law you will have four to five weeks of holiday.
Colleagues with families will normally leave work to pick up kids from school, or go straight home without stopping to socialise. Expats may search the office at 4:05pm, only to find that all their Norwegian colleagues have already gone home. Don’t expect Norwegians to work after hours. Some expats find that outside of work hours, the office can be a lonely place. International companies are increasingly using English as the working language, but there is still a strong emphasis placed on Norwegian in the office space.
Norway’s robust economy offers many opportunities for expats, particularly those in the fields of engineering, IT, research and finance. Most expats find work within the shipping, energy, and oil and gas industries. Norway survived the 2008 financial crisis better than most of Europe, and its already-stable economy is improving. The largest employers in Norway are: Aker, Norsk Hydro, Telenor, Orkla, Aker Kvaerner and Statoil.
With a low unemployment rate (approx 3 per cent in July 2012), there are often many open positions. However, being a small market, it may be a challenge to find a position that best fits your background and profile. Multinational firms often hire expats, even if they don’t speak Norwegian. Otherwise, the general feeling is that employees should know Norwegian and have some experience of the Norwegian market.
It is important that you have documentation to prove your skills and your previous work experience. Make sure that school certificates, diplomas and references from previous employers are translated into Norwegian. English documents need no translation.
If you experience discrimination at your place of work, you can contact the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud - Likestillings- og Diskrimineringsombudet.
The Working Environment Act, Arbeidsmiljøloven, protects against discrimination and unfair treatment. on grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, homosexuality or disability in employment and promotion cases (The Working Environment Act, section 55A).
The Act also protects against harassment and improper conduct (section 12) and unfair dismissal (section 60).
General information on laws and rules regulating Norwegian working life can be found in the following websites::
Arbeidstilsynet.no (The Directorate of Labour Inspection)
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work - information in Englsih about the working environment in Norway
LO.no - The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions
NAV.no (The Norwegian Labour and Welfare organisation)
Sources: expatarrivals.com, velkommenoslo.no
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