Parental benefit and parental leave in Norway

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Mads Schmidt Rasmussen /
Here you can read about who is entitled to parental leave and parental benefit, or a lump-sum grant in Norway, how to apply for parental benefit, how long you can receive parental benefit, and regulations about taking parental benefit abroad.

Parental leave gives you as parent the opportunity to be free from your job or studies to look after your child. You may be entitled to parental benefit or a lump-sum grant in connection with parental leave. The main rule is that you earn rights to parental benefit in Norway if you live and work in Norway.  If you live in Norway, but work in another Nordic country, the main rule is that you are entitled to parental benefit in the country in which you work. 

Are you entitled to leave in connection with pregnancy, childbirth and adoption?

Parents are entitled to a total of 12 months’ leave in connection with the birth and after the birth. These 12 months include the mother’s right to leave for up to 12 weeks during the pregnancy and six weeks of leave reserved for the mother after the birth.

You apply to your employer for leave, no later than three months before the leave is to start.

In addition to the first 12 months, each of the parents is entitled to one year of leave for each birth. This leave must be taken directly after the first year. If you are taking care of the child yourself, you are entitled to both the years. Other people who care for the child may also be entitled to leave.

Adoptive parents and foster parents have equal rights to leave, from the date on which the care of the child was transferred. The right to leave does not apply to adoption of a stepchild or if the child is aged over 15.

Disputes over the right to leave may be decided by arbitration boards.

Most people who are entitled to parental leave in Norway are also entitled to parental benefit, which is to secure income during the leave. You are entitled to parental benefit if you satisfy a number of criteria. There is more information in the sections below. You may also be entitled to unpaid, or paid, maternity leave during parts of the pregnancy if this is needed.

An employee who is pregnant is also entitled to paid leave from work in connection with prenatal checks and examinations. 

Parental benefit

The right to parental benefit during parental leave is statutory according to the Norwegian National Insurance Act. You apply for parental benefit from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), which is the agency responsible for parental benefit in Norway.

Are you entitled to parental benefit during leave?

Most people who work in Norway are entitled to financial benefits in connection with the birth or adoption of children. You can receive parental benefit if you

  • are a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (folketrygden)
  • have been working
  • and have had pensionable income for at least 6 of the last 10 months before the start of the benefit period.

Other benefit forms, such as unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, etc. can be regarded as the equivalent of working.

If you have worked in another EEA country during the qualification period, this can be added to the period of work you have in Norway. However, the most recent work before you start leave must be in Norway.

You may also receive parental benefit if you are self-employed or work as a freelancer.

How much parental benefit can you receive?

If you are entitled to parental benefit, the amount is generally calculated on the basis of the income you have when you start the period of leave. If you are self-employed, or work freelance, parental benefit is generally the average salary from the last three years for which you have received a tax assessment notice. 

You can receive parental benefit for around one year, and you can choose between two types of parental benefit periods with different degrees of coverage. The parental benefit period also varies according to whether you have a child through birth or adoption.


How is the parental benefit divided between the parents?

In Norway the period of parental benefit is divided into three: one period that is reserved for the mother, the maternal quota (mødrekvote); one period that can be divided freely between the parents, the shared period (fellesperiode); and a period that is reserved for the father or the co-mother, the paternal quota (fedrekvote).

The mother must take the last three weeks before the birth, and the first six weeks after the birth.

If the father/co-mother wants to take parts of the shared period, the mother must be occupationally active (work, education or similar). There is no requirement for the father/co-mother to be occupationally active if the mother takes parts of/all the shared period.

As father/co-mother you are entitled to parental benefit if you have had pensionable income for at least 6 of the last 10 months before the start of the parental benefit period, but you are not entitled to the paternal quota unless the mother has earned rights to parental benefit and uses this right.


Can you lengthen or postpone the period of parental benefit?

You do not need to take the parental benefit period in one continuous block. You can, for example, postpone the parental benefit period if you, on account of illness or injury, are totally dependent on help to take care of the child, or because you want to work full-time.

You can also combine work with parental benefit if you wish. This is called graded parental benefit and enables you to prolong the parental benefit period.

If you as father/co-mother wish to postpone the paternal quota, you must apply for this. NAV must receive the application no later than the final day of the shared period. The date of this is found in the grant of entitlement that the mother receives when she has applied for, and been granted, parental benefit.

You are also entitled to take holiday while you are in a parental benefit period or receive parental benefit. The parental benefit period is then postponed in the period in which you take holiday.

You must have used up the entire parental benefit period before the child’s third birthday.  If you have a new child, you lose the right to the corresponding parental benefit period for the first child.

Are you entitled to other benefits if you are not entitled to parental benefit?

If you have not earned the right to parental benefit, you may be entitled to a lump-sum grant. You must live in Norway when the child is born or adopted to be entitled to a lump-sum grant, or be a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme in some other way.

How do you apply for parental benefit and a lump-sum grant?

You must apply for parental benefit; this applies to the maternal quota, the paternal quota, and the shared period. It is important to study the dates, so that you apply at the right time. Read more about application, case processing times and payment dates on the NAV website.

There is a fixed date for payment of parental benefit, and tax is deducted from the parental benefit.

You must apply for the lump-sum grant no later than 6 months after the birth or the date of adoption. The mother must apply. The lump-sum grant is a tax-free amount that you can receive once, and is paid when you have the child.

The mother must submit confirmation from a midwife/doctor after 26 weeks of the pregnancy.

What applies if you move to another Nordic country before or during the leave?

You can generally take earned parental benefit from Norway to another Nordic country.

If you already receive maternity or parental benefit when you travel to a EU/EEA country, you retain the benefit from Norway during your stay. However, one condition is that you are not working and that the other conditions for parental benefit are satisfied.

If you are entitled to maternity or parental benefit from Norway, but have not started the benefit period before you travel to an EU/EEA country, you can receive the benefit from Norway during your stay. However, one condition is that you do not work in another EU/EEA country before the leave starts and that the other conditions for parental benefit are satisfied.

Who should you contact if you have questions?

Contact NAV if you have questions about parental benefit.

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