Employers’ obligations towards employees on sick leave

Employees on sick leave must be treated in accordance with specific regulations in the Norwegian Working Environment Act (WEA), sections 4-6.  In this briefing we provide a summary of the main regulations.

Sick leave and pay

By law, employees have special protection against dismissal due to illness or injury for a period of up to one year. In this period, the employee is entitled to sick pay from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation (the NAV).  The employer pays for the first 16 days of absence, with the NAV paying for the remaining days. Sickness benefit from the NAV is limited to six times the base amount (currently about 475 296, -NOK) for up to 1 year.

Follow- up plans

The employer is required to prepare a follow-up plan in consultation with the employee in order to get the employee back to work, unless this is "evidently unnecessary". Work on the follow-up plan must commence as soon as possible, and it must be prepared no later than four weeks after the first day of sick leave. An example of where a follow-up plan would not be needed is where  the nature of the illness means the employee will be able to return to work as normal without their duties or working environment having to be adapted or special equipment provided etc. The employer would, however, still be obliged to contact the employee to establish whether or not this is the case.

The follow-up plan must include a review of the employee's responsibilities and capacity for work. It should also include the measures that will be taken by the employer and/or the NAV to get the employee back to work and plan for further follow-up.

Dialogue meetings

The employer has to invite the employee to a "dialogue meeting" to discuss the content of the follow-up plan within seven weeks of the start of the employee’s sickness absence, unless “evidently unnecessary”. The person responsible for granting sick leave is expected to take part in the meeting unless the employee objects or their participation is regarded as pointless. The employer’s occupational  health service must also be represented.

The WEA makes it clear that employees are obliged to participate in meetings with the employer regarding follow-up plans and dialogue meetings.

Information to the authorities

Within nine weeks of the start of the employee’s sickness absence, the employer must inform the NAV whether or not the rules requiring a follow-up plan and dialogue meeting have been followed. The follow-up plan must be sent to the NAV.

Non-compliance

The NAV may fine the employer for violations of the above provisions. The employer will be given a written warning and three weeks’ notice to correct any deficiencies.

Violation of the above provisions will also be relevant, and may be highly detrimental for an employer, should the employee bring a claim for compensation if they are dismissed.