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Home address stops Valgerður’s  maternity pay
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Home address stops Valgerður’s maternity pay

| Text: Guðrún Helga Sigurðardóttir, Photo: Gunnar V. Andrésson

An Icelandic woman who lives in Iceland but works for an Oslo-based business experienced the cross border commuter’s nightmare. Despite contributing to Norway’s national insurance fund since 2003, she receives no maternity pay. She doesn’t even know who will pay the hospital bill for when she gave birth to her son. Neither Norway nor Iceland wants to pay.

Travel consultant Valgerður Þórdís Snæbjarnardóttir had her son Róbert Aron Larssen in Reykjavik at the beginning of August 2011, where she lives with her Norwegian partner.

Snæbjarnardóttir has been working for the travel agency Islandia Travel in Oslo since 2006. She lived in Norway between 2003 and 2008 but moved back to Iceland and has worked from there ever since. She has received her salary in Norwegian kroner and has naturally been paying tax and customs to the Norwegian state.

“When I fell pregnant I contacted NAV [The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service] to get information on what would happen to maternity rights,” says Valgerður Þórdís Snæbjarnardóttir.

NAV was established when Norway’s job centres, national insurance fund and municipal social services were merged.

"Only a formality"

“We were told that since I was a member of the national insurance fund the application should be only a formality, I would be guaranteed maternity pay,” she continues.

Snæbjarnardóttir was told to hand in an application two months before her due date. She sent it in plenty of time but was then told she should have applied four months before her due date. Her application was then turned down at the end of September. The reason was she was not a member of the Norwegian national insurance fund, even though she had been paying into it. 

Snæbjarnardóttir has had the same job in the same workplace since 2008. She says that in the tourism industry it doesn’t matter in which office you’re sitting.

“I still work for the same travel agency in Norway,” she says.

“But now I have an address in Iceland. I used to have a Norwegian address,” she continues, and says she believes it is her address which is creating a problem.

Maternity pay not a given

Snæbjarnardóttir travelled to Norway last autumn to find out why she was not receiving any maternity pay, despite having payed into the fund all these years. At NAV she was recommended to apply retroactively to become a member of the national insurance fund. 

She has now sent an application to NAV. 

Snæbjarnardóttir has not received any maternity pay since she had her baby at the beginning of August. She and her husband had a reserve fund which they lived off at first. Now they’ve sold their Oslo flat in order to support their family. 

“It doesn’t seem to be a given to be able to receive maternity pay,” she says.

 

 

Facts

Valgerður Þórdís Snæbjarnardóttir works for the travel agency Islandia Travel in Norway. She has one son, Róbert Aron Larssen, who is just under nine months old, together with her Norwegian partner.

Snæbjarnardóttir earned 10,000 Norwegian kroner a month as a travel consultant at the travel agency, but has not received any maternity pay since she had her baby because the Norwegian national insurance fund refuses to pay her. 

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