JavaScript is disabled in your web browser or browser is too old to support JavaScript. Today almost all web pages contain JavaScript, a scripting programming language that runs on visitor's web browser. It makes web pages functional for specific purposes and if disabled for some reason, the content or the functionality of the web page can be limited or unavailable.

Working in Norway: collective agreement (tariffavtale)

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement secures workers in a certain industry, sector or company the same pay and working conditions.
Collective agreements can secure workers more favourable rights than the statutory rights, such as better working hours, overtime pay, pension and paid holidays.

Collective agreements can secure workers more favourable rights than the statutory rights, such as better working hours, overtime pay, pension and paid holidays.

Tormod Ytrehus

A collective agreement (tariffavtale) is a written agreement between workers organised within a trade union (fagforening) and either an employers’ organisation or a single employer.

The collective agreement provides a standardised arrangement for pay and working conditions.

A collective agreement applies to the parties (unions/organisations/employers) who sign the agreement and their members.

Collective agreements can for example secure more favourable rights than the statutory rights when it comes to issues such as working hours, overtime pay, supplements for working nights, evenings, weekends and public holidays, pension, notice periods, co-determination, work clothes as well as paid holiday.

Article in Polish: Co to jest układ zbiorowy pracy?

Article in Liuanian: Kas yra kolektyvinė sutartis?

National agreement

Most collective agreements in Norway are nationwide, meaning employees all over the country work on the same pay and working conditions, regardless of which company they are employed with.

It is usually a nationwide trade union and a nationwide employers’ association that enters into a collective agreement.

The collective agreement for industry; the Industry Agreement, is an example of this. The trade union Fellesforbundet and the employers’ organisation Norsk Industri are the parties to this agreement. Companies who are members of Norsk Industri and have joined this agreement, are obliged to follow it. This is also a mandatory requirement for companies who have entered into a direct agreement with Fellesforbundet, but who are not members of Norsk Industri.

Related article: These are the current minimum wages within nine industries in Norway


Part 1 of a collective agreement usually consists of the Basic Agreement (hovedavtalen). This contains the ground rules for both union representatives/shop stewards (tillitsvalgte) and employers. The Basic Agreement is usually valid for four years and would be renewed in separate negotiations.

Part 2 of the collective agreement contains the concrete agreements on pay and working conditions (overenskomsten) for a specific area or sector, the wage agreement area (tariffområde). The agreement is usually valid for two years. It is amended through collective bargaining; negotiations between representatives for employers and representatives for the workers (tariffoppgjør/lønnsoppgjør). If the parties cannot reach an agreement, this may result in a labour dispute. If the employees refuse to work, it is called a strike. If the employers arrange a work stoppage, it is called lockout.

Additionally, the union representatives and the company can enter into special agreements (særavtaler) regarding one or several issues, which can apply locally or centrally.

You may also be interested in this article: Temporary worker Isaac did not get the pay he was entitled to. This is how he earned 14 kroner more per hour

Strike to get a collective agreement

If a trade union has a certain number of members within a company, it can demand that the collective agreement for the specific industry shall apply to the company. If the company refuses, the members can legally go on strike to put pressure on their employer. When the company has signed the collective agreement, future changes to the agreement will automatically apply to the company.

Within nine industries in Norway there is a so-called general application (allmenngjøring) of collective agreements. This means that wages and some of the working conditions apply as a minimum for everyone who works in these industries, regardless of whether the company they work for has a collective agreement.

Sources: FriFagbevegelses Tariffleksikon and


This is a news article from FriFagbevegelse, a Norwegian online newspaper about working life and the labor movement.

On our website, you will find more articles that are relevant for foreigners working in Norway. We write about rights, laws, and regulations for foreign workers in Norway.

Read more news here