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Why Norway doesn’t have a national minimum wage and how fair pay is ensured

Norway doesn’t have a general minimum wage, but that does not mean your employer can get away with paying you whatever they want.

Why Norway doesn't have a national minimum wage and how fair pay is ensured
Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

For many internationals, high wages are among the things that make Norway and the other Nordic countries attractive to move to for work. Data from Eurostat shows that the hourly cost of labour in Norway was a substantial €50 in 2019, considerably more than in any EU country.

Last year, Norwegians with fulltime employment earned 48,750 kroner, about €4,750, a month on average, according to Statistics Norway. The bureau has also published a complete list of average wages in Norway by profession.

But while wages in Norway are respectable, people who have recently moved to the country may be surprised to learn that there is no official general minimum wage.

Instead, wages tend to be agreed though negotiations between trade unions and individual employers or employer organisations (tariffavtale). In Norway, a country of about 5 million people, 1.4 million workers were covered by a tariff agreement in 2015, according to data from Statistics Norway.

In addition, the tariff agreement also regulates working hours, overtime, holidays, pensions and rules regarding temporary layoffs.

If you are covered by a tarrif agreement, any point in your work contract that violates the terms of the agreement are considered invalid. This is something called the principle of invariability (ufravikelighet).

So if you’re starting a new job in Norway, it may be worth checking out the possibility of joining a union.

Even if you do not join a union, however, a minimum wage has been implemented in a number of sectors, particularly those with many international and temporary workers.

The aim is to prevent exploitation and social dumping in industries where it may be hard for workers to organise.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (Arbeidstilsynet) has compiled a list of the industries with a minimum hourly wage. Below is an overview of the absolute minimum hourly wage for workers over the age of 18. Depending on a range of factors, such as skill level, overtime and working hours, the employer may be legally obligated to pay a higher wage.

Construction 196.50 NOK
The maritime construction industry 162.60 NOK
Agriculture and horticulture 123.15 NOK
Cleaning workers 187.66 NOK
Fish processing enterprises 183.70 NOK
Electricians 189.52 NOK
Fright transport by road 175.95 NOK
Passenger transport by tour bus 158.37 NOK
Hotel, restaurant and catering 134.09 NOK

In addition, the employer may be obligated to pay for lodging and clothes, if necessary.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority ensures compliance with the rules and can impose injunctions and issue fines if they are broken. In case of severe violations, the employer may be reported to the police.

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MONEY

How and where to get the cheapest fuel in Norway

Norway is leading the pack when it comes to the sales of new electric vehicles. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all new car sales in this country are electric. But for petrol and diesel car owners who have yet to make the switch, knowing when and where to find the cheapest fuel can end up saving you thousands of kroner.

A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs.
A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs. Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

Why is it so expensive to fuel up?

Fuel – gasoline, petrol and diesel — is an expensive monthly bill for many. Norway typically has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government, as well as the usual international market factors.

The Norwegian Competition Authority or Konkurransetilsynet recently stated that it is perhaps now more important than ever before to be aware of the ever changing fuel prices.

We have registered price differences of 2-3 kroner in the same local area. There is undoubtedly money to be saved by following along,” said Marita Skjæveland, deputy leader of the Norwegian Competition Authority’s energy section to broadcaster TV2.

The average price to fuel up between the months of July to October this year was 18.8 kroner per litre (2.26 dollars or 1.94 euros). 

READ ALSO: Five things that are becoming more expensive in Norway (and why)

Does it matter which day you fuel up?

As of writing, routinely fueling your vehicle on a specific day of the week will likely no longer save you money. 

“We see that the players in the market still raise prices two to three times a week, but that it happens on different days from week to week,” Skjæveland told TV2. The competition analyst added that by the end of the year, fixed price increases may also happen over the weekend. As such, it’s important to stay updated not only on the weekdays, but on the weekends as well.

Previously, Sunday evenings and early on Monday mornings used to be known as the cheapest time to fill your vehicle’s tank with petrol or diesel.  This is now a practice of the past. 

Where can I find cheap petrol prices online?

Hunting for the cheapest fuel prices in Norway is quite common. It’s also a normal discussion to have with your neighbours and colleagues. So don’t be worried about appearing ‘cheap’ if you want to talk about the high price of fuel. Or share which local petrol stations you have noticed to be less expensive. 

You can check Facebook for groups that are committed to informing the public on where to find the cheapest petrol stations. 

For Oslo and its surrounding areas, you can try here, and if you live in or are driving through the south of Norway, check here.

Drivestoff is an app designed to compare prices of petrol stations you will drive by on your journey so you can plan ahead to get the cheapest fuel. You can find more information and download the app here.

You can also save money by looking for a queue of cars at a petrol station. Yes, it may be just busy. But oftentimes, a queue is a signal for cheaper petrol prices. 

Memberships and credit cards can save you money on fuel

If you’re in the market for a credit card, look for one that might save you money on fuel. Credit cards such as 365 Direct and Flexi VISA will give you good discount options at all petrol stations. If you have a particular station you always fill up at, such as a YX, you can sign up for the company’s credit card to receive discounts on fuel. 

There are also benefits to be had if you sign up for a credit card or a drivstoffkort or “fuel card”.

A drivstoffkort is a special credit card which you use to pay when refuelling your vehicle. The cards generally only work at the stations run by the company to which the card belongs. Different deals and types of card are available, depending on the company.

Specific deals on credit card and drivstoffkort discounts can be found (in Norwegian) here

You can sometimes use membership cards with grocery stores or real estate organisations to give you discounts on fuel. For example, the Coop Medlemskort will save you 45 øre when filling up at Circle K petrol stations. Trumf kortet, which is associated with the chains Kiwi, Meny, Joker and Spar, gives you bonuses when you fill up at Shell stations. OBOS members receive a 27 øre discount on petrol and diesel at both Statoil and 1-2-3-Automat stations. 

Where can I get the lowest priced petrol?

Petrol stations in Norway are extremely competitive. There is no one company that is known to sell gasoline or diesel cheaper than the others

Like many other goods, fuel prices around Norway will rise and fall with demand. Typically, fuel stations located in mountainous towns or areas that heavily rely on tourism will have more expensive fuel. If you’re on holiday in such a town or area, and can wait to fuel up when you get to a more trafficked motorway, it will likely save you money. 

Petrol stations that don’t have employees on location tend to be slower at increasing their prices to match the competition. So if you know you’ll be passing by an ubemannet or “unstaffed” petrol station on your trip, it may be cost-effective to wait and fill up there. 

Consider how much time you want to invest

Joining the hunt for cheaper fuel may not be for everyone. It is time consuming, and admittedly hard to achieve due to the ever-changing prices. If you are not dependent on your vehicle for your daily commute and don’t often drive long distances, fueling up at your local gas station may be the best choice. 

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