Contracting in Norway: What agencies need to know
Michelle Reilly, CEO of 6CATS International
Norway is certainly a diverse country that should appeal to the masses. For nature lovers, the incredible landscapes, rolling mountains and of course the Northern Lights are all sights not to miss. For those seeking more of a city-based adventure, the country’s capital is alive with cultural sites, from its fascinating modern art gallery and its many museums, to its vintage shops and funky cafes. But beyond these tourist attractions, the country is increasingly becoming an attractive place to work and recruitment agencies can certainly profit from operating in this area.
A thriving economy, but change is afoot
The economic climate in Norway is certainly looking up of late, despite some political upheaval. Indeed, the Norwegian Finance Ministry announced in October that the country’s economy is rebounding sooner than they had expected, leading the government to raise growth forecasts for this year and next.
This progress has mainly been achieved through funding within the country’s largest industry: Energy. Now worth $1 trillion, the sovereign oil fund has boosted Norway’s revenue since the reduction of crude prices caused a slowdown back in 2014.
However, the country is seeking to reduce its reliance on the oil and gas industry as fossil fuel continues to lose value. As such, its highly likely that experts in green energy will become increasingly sought after in this location.
Outside the energy industry, Norway is also a hub of tech activity. Not only is the country a leader in electronic cars (it has the world’s largest rate of battery-vehicle ownership), but it’s also investing heavily in new technology developments to bolster its other leading sectors.
The marine industry, for example, is another of Norway’s most profitable fields. However, sustainability is a concern, particularly with the likes of a sea lice outbreak severely hitting the industry in recent times. As such, the government has launched a program that encourages farmers to develop environmentally friendly next-generation farming technology that prevents such outbreaks and secures a more sustainable farming process. With this focus on new tech developments, we can certainly expect to see growing demand for next-gen technology professionals to work on these experiments in the very near future.
Norway is also considered a great place to work and live. In the latest HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the country rose four points coming in as the second top expat destination. According to the survey, it scored highly in a number of areas, including economic and political stability, well-paid and flexible employment, happiness, good welfare systems and quality of safety for families. Norway was also one of the top ten countries ranked for safety in a survey by the world’s largest network of expats, InterNations.
Not only is it a safe place to work, but it also has high levels of work-life balance. Long weekends are common and hours are relatively flexible, though an average working week is around 37 hours. It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that the HSBC survey found that 90% of expats in the Scandinavian country said their work-life balance had improved since their move.
However, when putting a contractor forward for a position in the country, recruiters must bear in mind that fluent Norwegian is required for the majority of roles, particular those in the public sector.
Those looking to relocate to Norway should also be made aware of the housing differences. Anyone renting a property, for example, will be expected to pay a deposit equivalent to three months’ rent. The bidding process on a house is also much more complex and akin to an auction by SMS, so ensuring contract professionals are aware of the differences is a must if recruiters are to help them make a smooth transition overseas.
The legal system for foreign contractors is also complex in Norway and will certainly require the input from an expert in order to ensure full compliance is achieved. While nationals from a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) can secure employment without a visa, those from outside the EEA will need one before they can work in Norway. For those needing a visa, recruiters will need to factor in both the time and cost implications of the placement. It usually takes around four – six weeks to get a visa and there will be legal costs associated with this as well.
Once a professional has been placed in the country, they will need to register with the relevant Norwegian authorities. This will involve an online pre-application form followed by a visit to the local police station. The worker will then be issued their tax deduction card which outlines their required tax payments and their Norwegian personal identification number which is needed in order to live in the country.
There are also sector specific requirements that need to be adhered to. For example, every contractor working at a building or construction site - regardless if they are Norwegian or foreign - must have a Construction ID Card. This compulsory requirement is to identify who you are and who you work for.
This is just a brief glimpse into the complex Norwegian tax and employment system. In order to avoid any potentially nasty surprises following a placement in the country, recruitment firms really do need to seek expert advice. And with constant changes being implemented around the globe as the crackdown on tax evasion continues, it really does pay to play it safe.
Picture courtesy of Pixabay