“We will propose extending the period you can be furloughed for until July 1st, for people who would otherwise have been excluded from the scheme,” the country's Minister of Labour, Henrik Asheim told public broadcaster NRK.
The expanded scheme means that people who were put on temporary leave when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March and April, can be furloughed for longer than 52 weeks.
“We do this to ensure that a larger number of people on temporary leave, who will eventually see their jobs returning, will not be excluded from the system,” said Asheim.
Approximately 61,000 workers were registered as furloughed in December, according to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration NAV.
The expanded scheme was introduced in August and came into effect November 1st. It was due to come to an end at the end of April.
The fate of the scheme has been in doubt for a while.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg told news agency NTB Sunday that the government did not wish to expand it beyond 52 weeks, but that they were prepared to negotiate with the opposition.
Opposition parties Progress Party, Labour Party, Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party decided to join forces in Parliament and demand the scheme be extended.
This gave the opposition a majority of the parliamentary seats.
Deputy Leader of Frp, Sylvi Listhaug, is happy the government has heeded their demands.
“This is a step in the right direction,” she told E24.
“When they see that a majority in Parliament wants an extension, they have no choice but to follow up on their end,” she added.
What you need to know about the furlough scheme
All furloughed workers in Norway have the right to initially receive a salary from their employee followed by daily employment benefit (dagpenger) from NAV.
Under normal circumstances, workers in Norway may be furloughed for up to 26 weeks. After this time, the employee may lose their job.
The government expanded the furlough scheme from 26 to 52 weeks in August due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The changes were implemented on November 1st and were scheduled to last until June 30th.
The change meant that workers who were put on temporary leave in March and April 2020, can retain their status to the end of April 2021.
The government announced January 11th that the scheme will be expanded again. The new changes mean workers furloughed in March and April 2020, can remain on temporary leave to July 1st 2021.
Government press release on January changes,
Government press release on November changes,