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The leaving of Oslo

July 11, 2011

It’s July and in Norway that means holiday month.  At work the only people here are those who haven’t been here long enough for full holidays (more on that in a bit). In Oslo in general the Norwegians have gone to their hytte (cabin) or abroad. The majority of people around are tourists and there are lots of coach tours traveling up Bogstadveien every day on their way from the city centre to Vigeland park to see the statues.  Some shops/cafes are closed for July, others have reduced opening hours.  Lots of maintenance work on the trains (the main train station is closed), trams and t-bane (light rail) is occuring (because there is no-one in work). David has also commented on the mass exodus on his blog.

How does the Norwegian economy keep going during July?  This is to do with how holidays are worked out with the tax people.  Here you earn holiday entitlement during the previous year e.g. the holidays you get in 2011 were earned in 2010.  During the year some of the tax you pay is put into the taxman’s big feriepenger (holdiay pay) pot.  You don’t get paid for the days you take as holiday – and this is done in a big lump sum in July.  So in July you have the number of days holiday you have per year’s worth of  pay deducted from your salary – bummer 😦 But you get back all the feriepenger you paid last year and this is normally more than the pay deducted 🙂  However, if like me you haven’t worked a full calender year (Jan – Dec) then whilst you may be able to take your full number of days allowed these won’t necessarily be with holiday pay – so this year I’m having very few days holiday with feriepenger 😦  (This might be how they get round the EU rule on holiday entitlement – no Norway is not in the EU but it is in the EEA and has to follow the EU rules but without any say on them!) Oh back to the Norwegian economy – if a company doesn’t have to pay you your salary in July, and the money you do get paid is money you’ve already paid to the tax man, then if they close for July there are no overheads (or very few) and so they can close without “loosing” money (of course it does depend on how you view “loosing” money). An interesting, and at first very (especially if you’re used to the UK system) confusing system.

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