Fellesferie: Everything you need to know about Norway’s collective holiday period

Fellesferie: Everything you need to know about Norway’s collective holiday period
Norwegians playing a game of beach volleyball. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
Norway’s collective holiday period, or fellesferie, is almost upon us, but what is it, where does it come from and are you legally entitled to it? Here’s what you need to know.

What is fellesferie? 

Fellesferie is the collective leave period or general staff holiday period that many Norwegian companies have adopted, which takes place during July. 

The origins of fellesferie date back to the interwar years, when employers and employees in the Norwegian metal smelting industry agreed on a collective holiday period of three weeks. 

For the companies, it was more practical and profitable to let the workers all take holidays at the same time and close their operations down completely than it was to let workers take holidays at different times and disrupt production levels. 

The scheme then made its way to other industries, and over time, it gradually became a tradition that has carried on into the modern day and has become about as Norwegian as Bunads and brown cheese

What happens during fellesferie?

If you’ve not experienced the holiday period in Norway yet, it’ll feel like everything is coming to a grinding halt.

Many companies will shut down entirely or operate vastly reduced opening hours. As a result, big cities such as Oslo can feel practically deserted as everyone flocks to the beaches, fjords and mountains – often staying in their country retreats or hyttes If they aren’t travelling abroad.

READ ALSO: ‘Hyttefolk’:Why Norwegians are so passionate about cabin retreats

Even Norway’s top professional football league takes fellesferie. This is particularly annoying for fans as it means the season drags on into November, where temperatures will start dipping into the minuses, leaving their teeth chattering while they cheer on their team from the terraces.

Some essential services like banks will remain open but with vastly reduced opening hours.  

It can be hard to get stuff done during fellesferie because, in case you haven’t noticed, when Norwegians are out of the office, they are out of the office. 

This means that if you have any urgent business that needs doing, you best get it done before fellesferie because getting a reply to an email or getting somebody to take a call while they are on vacation in Norway is largely impossible.

When is fellesferie? 

Fellesferie marks the last three weeks of July and lasts for three weeks until the beginning of August. Fellesferie in Norway starts on July 12th this year. 

The reason why it takes place in July is pretty simple. Kids are still on Sommerferie, or summer holiday, and the days are still long and warm. 

Fellesferie represents the chance for Norwegians to make to most of any warm weather that comes their way, an opportunity they certainly don’t take for granted given the harsh winters in the Nordic country. 

Is fellesferie legally enforceable? 

In short, no. Fellesferie isn’t an official public holiday, nor can employers be legally forced to let staff take a holiday during fellesferie

However, under the holiday act, employees can demand to take up to three consecutive weeks off during the main holiday period – which is between June 1st and the last day of September. 

This means that employees can still take an extended summer vacation that employers will have to grant. However, that doesn’t mean they have to give you vacation during fellesferie

Another perk of the aforementioned Holiday Act, or ferieloven, is that if you fall sick during your leave, you can request to have the time you were ill back as more holiday. You will need to provide your employers with a medical certificate, though. 

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