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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure NO-2020-12/726 Updated – measures in Norway

Reduction of employer's responsibility for funding sick leave to three days if illness is COVID-19-related

Arbeidsgivers finansieringsansvar for koronavirusrelatert sykefravær reduseres til tre dager

Country Norway , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 16 March 2020 – 30 June 2022
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Paid sick leave
Author Aasmund Arup Seip, FAFO and Eurofound
Measure added 19 April 2020 (updated 04 February 2022)

Background information

Temporary reduction in employers’ funding responsibility for sick pay for employees related to COVID-19 is a measure aimed at companies and the business sector and have as its main objective to reduce costs and improve liquidity during the period of loss of income. The goal is that otherwise healthy and viable companies should not succumb to the fight against viruses. The measure is estimated to entail increased expenses for the state.

Content of measure

Employer's funding responsibility for coronavirus-related sick leave is reduced to three days. In an ordinary situation, the employer must pay sick pay for a period of up to 16 calendar days (the employer period). In its decision 390, 16 March 2020, the Storting asked the government to reduce the employer period for the payment of sick pay to employees from 16 to three days for sick leave related COVID-19.

The exemption provision is stipulated in the temporary regulations on exemptions from the National Insurance Act and the Working Environment Act in connection with the corona pandemic, and expires on 31 December 2020 or when the Ministry / King decides. The exemption provision means that the National Insurance Scheme reimburses employers' expenses for sick leave for coronavirus-related absences from day four to day 16. The employer offsets sick pay and may claim reimbursement from the Labor and Welfare Agency for the number of days exceeding three. The temporary reduction in employer funding responsibility for sick pay for employees related to the coronavirus is estimated on an uncertain basis to result in increased sick pay payments of NOK 4,700 million in 2020.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

02 December 2021

At the request of four employers' associations, the government continues the reduction of the period employers have to pay sick pay. Until 31 October 2021, the employers were entitled to be reimbursed sick pay for days 4-16 when the sick leave was related to COVID-19. On 2 December, the government announced that the state will cover COVID-related sick leave from day six for both employees, the self-employed and freelancers. Employers normally pay sick pay for 16 days before the state takes over the bill. The government now proposes that the state should cover the expenses from day six. Self-employed people and freelancers will also be covered for sick leave from day six onwards with illness or suspected illness of COVID-19. New rules will take effect for sick leave from and including 1 December and will last until 30 June 2022. The proposals require a decision in the parliament. The government will present a proposition to the Storting in January 2022.

24 September 2021

In its proposition 243 to the Storting of 24 September 2021, the government proposed the employer’s right to be reimbursed sick pay for days 4-16 when the sick leave is due to corona, extended to 31 October 2021.

Use of measure

No information to date.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social insurance
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level

Involvement

Social partners have been consulted regularly during design and implementation of the measure.

Views and reactions

Social partners are supportive of the measure.

The four employer's associations, KS, Spekter, Virke and NHO, met with the Minister of Health on 24 November and the State Secretaries in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on 25 November 2021 about the pandemic situation. In a letter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of 29 November 2021, the employer's associations requested that the 3-day employer period was reintroduced as it was before 1 October 2021. This position was supported by the central organisations at the employee side, LO, Unio, YS and Akademikerne. The employer's associations said they received a lot of feedback about a sharp increase in sickness absence, especially from labour-intensive companies (construction, transport, service companies, health and care, kindergartens, etc.). Increased sick leave results in both increased costs for the businesses and harm the day-to-day operations, the four employer's associations argued.

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Reduction of employer's responsibility for funding sick leave to three days if illness is COVID-19-related, measure NO-2020-12/726 (measures in Norway), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/NO-2020-12_726.html

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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.