Sickness benefits for self-employed and freelancers

Sickness benefits are to compensate for the loss of wages for those who are occupationally disabled due to an illness or injury.

Who are entitled to sickness benefits?

  • You must be a member of the National Insurance Scheme
  • You must be occupationally disabled due to a loss of functional ability that is due to an illness or injury
  • As a general rule, you must have been working for at least four weeks immediately prior to becoming occupationally injured.
  • You must lose pensionable income due to your occupational disability. It is a requirement that the income on which your sickness benefits are calculated from, is equivalent to at least 50 percent of the National Insurance basic amount (Grunnbeløpet i folketrygden).
  • As a freelancer, you must have a regular income from work assignments. If you receive foster allowance (text in Norwegian) you will be considered as a freelancer. If you receive Cash benefits for care (text in Norwegian), you will be considered as a freelancer, unless you are an employee.

Your occupational disability must be documented by a sick leave certificate issued by a doctor. If you have an illness or an injury that is directly related to the musculo-skeletal system, a chiropractor or manual therapist may also issue a sick leave note up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

You are not entitled to sickness benefits until 16 calendar days after the occupational disability arose, unless you have insurance (text in Norwegian). These 16 days start to run the day you have consulted with a doctor or NAV recieves a notification about your occupational disability.

In order to get sickness benefits from NAV, you need to get your illness or injury documented by a doctor. Your doctor can normally provide you with a sick leave certificate the same day of your consultation. If you cannot get an appointment with your doctor the same day, the day you spoke with your doctor on the phone may be approved as the start-date of your doctor's sick leave certificate. This assumes that you have a subsequent appointment with your doctor one of the following days.

Activity requirements and follow up

In order to be entitled to sickness benefits, you must start work related activities as soon as possible.

Your doctor must always assess whether there are significant medical reasons that you must be absent from work, both for your first sick leave and for any subsequent sick leaves. If you are partially able to carry out your regular work tasks, you will be granted a partial sick leave.

If you are not participating in any work related activity within 8 weeks, an expanded medical certificate is required to document that there are significant medical reasons that prevent your participation in such activities.

In the event of a short-term sick leave, your occupational disability is evaluated in relation to your occupation. In the event of a long-term sick leave, an evaluation is made of whether you are occupationally disabled in relation to all suitable occupations.

When you are on sick leave, the follow up will be done by NAV.

Transport subsidy

If you are temporarily unable to travel in your usual manner to work due to an illness or injury, you may be entitled to a transport subsidy (text in Norwegian) from day 17 after you started your sick leave.

How much can you receive?

If you are self-employed or a freelancer, you are entitled to sickness benefits on your 17th day off work due to illness or injury.

  • If you are self-employed, your sickness benefits are equivalent to 75 percent of the income that your sickness benefits is based upon. For sick leaves starting before October 1th 2017, the rate is 65 per cent.
  • If you are a freelancer, your sickness benefits are equivalent to 100 percent of the income that your sickness benefits is based upon.

Self-employed or freelancers do not earn the rights to holiday pay.

You may buy insurance (text in Norwegian) to get better coverage.

When NAV pays sickness benefit, the basis for the sickness benefits must be determined. The calculation of your sickness benefits is based on your pensionable income, not your income from self-employment.  As a general rule, the basis for the sickness benefits is equivalent to your annual pensionable income, which is calculated as an average of your pension points for the past three years in which you have received an income with a tax settlement. This is unless there has been a permanent change.

The following documentation can be sent to NAV to calculate the basis of sickness benefits to newly established self-employment or if your work situation or business is permanently changed:

  • Overview of the advance tax pay
  • Equation that have not yet been placed
  • The result of accountant or auditor, if it contains information about pensionable annual income

Sickness benefit basis is limited to 6 times the  National Insurance basic amount (Grunnbeløpet (G) i folketrygden).

NAV will often need additional information to determine the basis for sickness benefits to self-employed.

If you are on a partial sick leave, you have the right to sickness benefit for the time you are ill. The sickness benefit can be graded down from 100 percent to 20 percent.

Sickness benefits when you have more than one job

If you are on sick leave from more than one job, you must have a sick leave certificate from each of your employers. The sickness benefit basis will be calculated on your total income.

If you are receiving foster allowance (text in Norwegian) or care benefit in combination with other income, you are considered to have more than one job.

Working as a freelance in combination with other employment

If you have income both as a freelancer and an employee, you will receive sickness benefit according to the provisions for employees. Your freelance income must be at least 25 per cent of the total basis in order for sickness benefit to be paid for the part of your income you receive as a freelancer.

How long are you entitled to receive sickness benefits?

You may receive sickness benefits for a maximum of 52 weeks. This time limit applies both if you are on full or partial sick leave. Other rules apply if you are between 67 and 70 years old (Norwegian only).

To earn the rights to sickness benefits from NAV again, you must have been fit to work for 26 weeks since you last had sickness benefits from NAV.

If you remain unable to work when the sickness benefits end, you may be entitled to other benefits such as work assessment allowance or disability pension.

How do you apply?

You apply by filling out a "Egenerklæring" (Personal declaration) on part D on the sick leave certification. Additionally, you must fill out the form NAV 08-35.01 "Inntektsopplysninger for selvstendig næringsdrivende og/eller frilansere som skal ha sykepenger" (Income data for self-employed and/or freelancers who are entitled sickness benefits). You’ll find the application form under “Form and application”.

Read about where you send the sick leave certification (text in Norwegian).

Report changes

If you have changes in your income and/or work situation, or if you are planning a stay abroad, it may affect the payment you receive from NAV.  You must therefore immediately report any such changes to NAV.

Payments

NAV will process your case after receiving both your application (completed part D of the sick leave note) and the income data form.

Se case processing times in NAV (text in Norwegian).

If your application is granted, your payments will normally be in your account by the last working day of the month, see more information about payments. Some benefits are paid earlier in December.

You can also check your payments on the Utbetalingsoversikt service.