Society & Policy

Parental and adoption benefits

Norway has invested a good deal of effort in ensuring optimal conditions for families with small children. Great importance has been attached to enabling parents to combine work and family life.

The parental benefit scheme enables parents to stay at home with their child during the first year of the child’s life. Parents who adopt a child under the age of 15 are entitled to largely the same benefits as those that apply when a child is born.

In order to be entitled to the parental or adoption benefit, the mother must have been employed and earning a pensionable income for at least 6 of the 10 months immediately prior to the commencement of the benefit period. The father must have been employed and earning a pensionable income for 6 of the 10 months immediately prior to the commencement of his part of the benefit period. The pensionable income earned during the qualifying period must be equal to at least half the annual National Insurance basic amount, i.e. it must be at least NOK 30,350 (2005).
The parental leave period in connection with childbirth has gradually been extended. Parents now receive parental benefits for 53 weeks at 80 per cent pay or 43 weeks with full pay. The corresponding adoption benefit period is 50 or 40 weeks. For births and adoptions after 1 July 2006 the parental leave period will be extended by one week to 54/44 weeks for births and 51/41 weeks for adoptions. 

Parents may choose to divide the period of paid leave between themselves. However, the mother must take three weeks of the parental benefit period prior to the birth. If she does not do so, she loses these three weeks. The first six weeks after the birth are also reserved for the mother. Five weeks of the total benefit period are reserved for the father (the paternity quota). As to the remainder of the allotted time, the parents themselves may decide whether one of them will stay at home with the child for the duration, or whether they wish to share the leave between them.

The paternity quota was introduced in 1993, and originally comprised four weeks. Its purpose is to strengthen the father’s relationship with the child and to signal the need for fathers to participate in childcare. The weeks reserved for paternity leave are non-transferable, and are lost if they are not utilized by the father. The paternity quota was extended to five weeks for births and adoptions starting on 1July 2005. This quota will be further extended to six weeks as from 1 July 2006.

Parental and adoption benefits are calculated on the basis of the income of the parent who takes the leave of absence. The parental or adoption benefit applies for income up to a ceiling of six times the National Insurance basic amount, i.e. NOK 364,194 (2005).

Women who do not quality for parental or adoption benefit receive a lump sum grant which amounts to NOK 33,584 (2005). Thus, all women receive some form of National Insurance benefit when they give birth to or adopt a child.

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