Youth in the work market

If you are a VR member, the union ensures your minimum rights in the labour market by negotiating collective wage agreements.

Collective wage agreements provide for your minimum rights – you can then negotiate with the employer for higher wages and more extensive rights.

Below are twelve common questions and answers which could answer your question.

Twelve common questions about the labour market

  • If you work as a shop assistant, the daytime working period is between 9:00 and 18:00 from Monday to Friday. Full-time work is 38.75 hours per week. If you work in an office the daytime period is between 9:00 and 17:00. Full-time work is 36.75 hours per week. 

  • The wages must be paid on the first day after the end of the month in which the wages are being paid for. The employer cannot delay payment unless it is by an agreement with the wage earner. Furthermore, it is very important to receive a pay slip every month  when the wages are paid, both so it is possible to go over the manner in which the wages are calculated and not least to confirm that an employment relationship is in place; that taxes and other wage related fees are deducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. 

  • Every year there are always a few days (so-called red days) which are considered either public holidays or major public holidays.

    You are not obliged to work on these days. They are therefore paid holidays. If, however, work is carried out on these days, after-hours/overtime wages must be paid due to work on public holidays and major public holiday wages must be paid for work on major public holidays. These wages are in addition to the ordinary daytime wages which you are entitled to.

    Hourly wages for work on major public holidays are 1.375% of monthly wages, based on a 100% job.

    Example: monthly wages, ISK 100,000 * 1.375 ISK/hour for major public holiday work.

    Major public holidays are the following: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Whit Sunday, 17 June, the August Bank Holiday (first Monday in August), Christmas Day and after 12:00 noon on Christmas Eve and New year’s Eve.

    Public holidays are the following: all the feast days of the National Church of Iceland not considered major public holidays, the First Day of Summer and 1 May.

  • As soon as you have worked for 1 month for an employer you have earned illness rights. That means that you have a right to be paid by your employers for the days you cannot tend to your job due to illness.

    The sick-pay rights are 2 weekdays for each month worked and it is accrued between months.

    Example: if you have worked for 4 months in your work place without being ill, you are entitled to 8 sick-days.

    You must, however, always be sure to report your illness to your employer in the correct manner.

    If you have worked for more than 1 year for your employer you are entitled to increased illness rights, 2 months for every 12-month period. After 5 years you are entitled to 4 months for every 12-month period and after 10 years you are entitled to 6 months.

  • Yes, the term of notice is always in proportion to how long you have worked for an employer.

    In the first 3 months of work the period of notice is 1 week, in the next 3 months the period of notice is 1 month, limited to the end of the month and after 6 months of work the period of notice has become 3 months, limited to the end of the month.

    Periods of notice are mutual. This means that both you as a wage earner and your employer must respect this period unless you reach a different agreement.

  • Yes, everyone has a right to holiday pay. Holiday pay is a certain percentage that is added to wages. The base percentage is 10.17%.

    Note: If you have worked for 6 months at the same company and reached the age of 22, or worked for 6 months at the same company after graduating from secondary school, you are entitled to 25 days of vacation and vacation pay should be 10.64%. The employer may request confirmation that you have completed secondary school. To receive increased vacation rights, i.e., an increase from 10.17% vacation pay to 10.64%, you must then provide that confirmation from the school.

    The holiday pay is generally paid in two ways. On one hand it is deducted from wages every month and deposited into a special holiday account. The accumulated balance is then paid out at the beginning of summer. On the other hand, holiday accumulates in vacation hours that the employee is paid when he/she takes summer leave. Each employee must decide in consultation with the employer when to take the summer holiday.

    See more about holiday rights here.

    Holiday pay must never be included in wages – it is paid separately.

  • Employment must always be confirmed in writing. It is the responsibility of your employer to finalize a written employment contract with you no later than 2 months after work commences.

    This is not least important as a confirmation of the employment terms negotiated, e.g. work hours, field of work and wage terms. In most cases the parties enter into a verbal agreement in the beginning about the issues that matter. Unfortunately, not everyone, neither wage earners nor employers fulfil their promises when the time comes. It is therefore a good rule in every work relationship to confirm in writing everything that may affect the relationship, including changes of wage terms and other announcements.

  • Lunch break at noon (12:00-14:00) is in the range of ½-1 hour. You must work at least 5 hours to be entitled to a lunch break. The lunch break is not paid.

    The coffee break is 35 minutes per day in shops, based on full-time work, and 15 minutes in offices. You are entitled to a coffee break in accordance with your employment proportion. The coffee break is paid.

    If you work into the evening you are entitled to a supper break between 19:00 and 20:00. The supper break is paid and if you work the entire time, or a part of the time, you will receive double pay for that time. You need to work at least 4 ½ hours to be entitled to a supper break.

  • No, you are entitled to rest between work days, from 12 to 14 hours, this depends on age. Children who are 15 years old in compulsory education are entitled to 14 hours per 24 hour period and adolescents 15-17 years old are entitled 12 hours per 24 hour period.

    If you do not have this continuous rest, you are entitled to take time off instead, 1.5 hours for every hour short of this time.

    Example: the wage earner receives 8 hours of rest between work days. Therefore, this is short of 3 hours for attaining minimum rest. The right to time off then becomes 4.5 hours (3*1.5).

    In addition to this, you are entitled to one day off per week. If you work 7 days continuously, you are entitled to one paid day off in the following week.

    You should also remember that you always have the right to refuse the extra work offered to you – no one can demand that you work more than what was originally agreed.

  • Overtime is the time worked outside of the daytime working period beyond 167.94 hours of work every month (159.27 hours in office work).

    The hourly rate for overtime is 1.0385% of monthly wages based on a 100% job.

    See more about pay scales here.

  • After-hours is the work time delivered outside of the daytime work period up to 167.94 hours of work every month (159.27 hours in offices). After-hours pay is a 40% addition to the hourly rate in daytime work. 

  • When you take on a job you must negotiate your wages and terms with your employer in the beginning. It is not least important to negotiate the wages. VR has negotiated a certain minimum rate of pay. This means that it is not permissible to pay less than the rate dictates.

    On the other hand, it is of course permissible and even better to negotiate wages that are higher than the minimum rates of pay. The wages should reflect your worth as an employee. It is, therefore, in everyone’s favour to do well on the job – good performance calls for good wages.

For information

  • Parents should go over pay slips with their children and see if everything is as it should be.
  • Children pay 6% tax on all income exceeding 180,000 ISK in the year 2024, which is declared in the parents’ tax report until the calendar year in which they become 16 years old commences.
  • Children receive a tax card at the beginning of the year in which they turn 16 years old.
  • Children begin paying into a pension fund the month after their 16th birthday.
  • Parents have supervisory responsibility for their children when they enter the labour market. Children up to 18 years of age do not have authority to sign an employment contract unless they have their parents’ consent.

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