Posted by: Sarah | December 4, 2013

Norwegian Parental Benefits Vs British Parental Benefits

PaternityThis is a pretty timely post given that last week the UK Government announced plans to allow both parents to share childcare leave for up to one year.  Whilst the Institute of Directors seems to have responded negatively to this idea, I welcome the move.  Scandinavia is notorious for having some of the best maternity/paternity benefits in the world

I’ve always been ‘career focused’.  I love my job so returning to work after having Lizzie was made much easier by the fact that in Norway we could share the parental leave.  After 6 months Eliot and I split the role of “stay at home parent” until Lizzie was able to go to barnehage.  We both worked part-time for one month and then Eliot took his mandatory 12 weeks paid leave that all new fathers need to take before the child is three years old.

Most barnehage’s won’t take a child into day care until their first birthday so this worked perfectly for us giving Eliot a chance to closely bond with Lizzie.  Another advantage is that it makes both parents equally attractive in terms of employment (there’s no discrimination towards women of child-bearing age – both parents are entitled to take the parental leave).  It also meant Eliot could watch the 2012 Olympics on the TV and learn how to pack a nappy bag! :-)

So here are the key differences between Norway and UK (correct to my knowledge and at time of publishing):

Mothers Maternity Leave:

govukUK – In the UK the statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks made up of 26 ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional leave.  The first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of weekly earnings.  The next 33 weeks will be paid at £136.78 a week. 

The mother must take the first two weeks (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).  It’s possible to start maternity leave up to 11 weeks before the due date but then you reduce the time you have left after the baby is born.  Many will work up to a week or even right up to the due date.  There’s a handy little planner tool on the website here.

navNorway – In Norway the statutory parental leave is either 49 weeks at 100% salary or 59 weeks at 80% salary to be divided between both parents but with some constraints as to how much a mother must take and how much a father must take (see next section).  I believe you can take more time unpaid but I’m not sure how long this is.

By law the mother MUST take 9 weeks of that leave for herself.  She must finish work 3 weeks before the due date and then take the following 6 weeks to be home with the baby.  This period will be paid at 100% or 80% depending on the applicants choice.  The National Welfare Office pays a big chunk of this but most employers in Norway will top up to your full salary.

Fathers Paternity Leave:

govukUK – In the UK the father is eligible to 1 or 2 weeks paid paternity leave when the baby is born.  The UK Government site also informs that fathers are eligible for additional 26 weeks paternity leave if the mother returns back to work. 

Payment is based on the same scheme outlined above however this additional leave needs to be used before the child turns one year old.

navNorway – In Norway the father is entitled to take 2 weeks paid leave when the baby is born and MUST take (by law) an additional 14 weeks of paid leave (either 100% or 80% salary depending on the applicants choice) before the child turns 3 years old.  Therefore, the parents need to decide how to use the remaining weeks e.g. the mother takes it all, the father takes it all or they both work part-time and share it – employers generally respect the choice of the parents in this matter since Norway is such a family focused country.

As with all things, changes happen all the time and details are dependent on how long you’ve worked in the country and for a company so please check and for full details.


  1. Thanks for an interesting post. To respond to your comment on unpaid parental leave in Norway: a family is entitled to up to a year of unpaid parental leave in addition to the 49 or 59 weeks. Which is very useful if you have a child after August and have to wait until the following August with barnehage…

    • Oh – cheers Rigmor. I thought you would now :-) I didn’t realise you can take up to another year. I believe in Sweden it’s up to three which is pretty nice. Hope all is well in Stavanger for you guys. xx

  2. I’m so glad that m/p aternity leave is now available in the UK. When I was making babies there was no statutory paid leave for either parent. And fish n’ chips was served in old newspapers!

    • Ha ha – yes, fish ‘n’ chips in newspapers. Those were the days! Health and safety put a stop to all of that :-)

  3. I’ve never worked in either Norway or UK, just in the USA where 50 years ago you were asked if you had a boyfriend in the job interview, asked when you planned to marry, asked when you planned to have children and told you had to quit your job when you were six months pregnant. All young women should thank us old lady women’s libbers; I don’t believe employers are allowed to ask those questions these days.

    • Great point Nancy! My Mum keeps reminding me “we never had maternity leave when I had you two kids. You left your job and that was it”. We need to be very thankful for what we have.

  4. Hi Sarah! I came across your blog when researching Norway, my husband (who is Jamaican), myself (English) and our baby are thinking of moving to Norway next Summer once my degree is completed – BA (Hons)in Business (Marketing). I was wandering if you had an email I could contact you on to ask specific questions, or if you could contact me? It would be great to hear from you, and your blog is making our decision to go a lot easier!

    • Hi Rudi – Of course I’m happy to help. I’ll ping you an email so you have my private email address. Glad the blog can be of some help to you.

  5. Fab post! On the paternity side of things in Norway my husband was told that although he was in 100% employment that because I wasn’t entitled to maternity pay (I was teaching English so it only came to about a 30% job) he wasn’t entitled to paternity leave either. I thought that sucked a bit really as he really wanted to spend time with our new baby too. He is a teacher so he couldn’t just book annual leave either so other than the two days his Head teacher kindly gave him when our son was first born he had to be back in work.

  6. […] (I also learned that maternity leave can be 49 weeks at 100% pay for mum (or it can be split between mum and dad) and that dads MUST take 14 weeks paid leave before the child turns 3. How amazing is that????) Source:… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: