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Understanding your rights

Dear Ukrainians, if you have any questions to the Directorate of Labor in Iceland, you can send a letter using our website, we will forward your request further. You can also send an email directly to this email   or make an appointment for a consultation.

The website www.landneminn.is  contains educational materials for immigrants in Iceland. Information on the site is freely available in Ukrainian. Through this website, you can gain knowledge about your rights, opportunities, and responsibilities in Icelandic society, and how you can use this knowledge in your daily life. You can also register for the course by following this link. All those who have applied for the course will receive a notification of the schedule and location of the classes in the coming days.

General work-related information

Salary

Usually, salaries are paid monthly into your Icelandic bank account on the last business day of each month, see further info in the section Bank Account. Fixed deductions from your salary will be: taxes, pension, and (optional) union fees, etc.

Pension

According to Icelandic law, all employees aged 16-70 are required to pay 4% of their salary into a pension fund.

Contributions from foreign nationals within the European Economic Area (EEA/EU) or the USA are not refunded when they leave Iceland permanently (the USA was added to this list only a couple of years ago). This is according to a mutual agreement between the member states of the treaty on the application of social security regulations applying to those who move between the member countries. Refunding contributions of foreign nationals from countries outside the EEA/EU/USA when they leave Iceland permanently, is allowed. The contribution will be refunded without interest but with indexation adjustment. In the event the employee has acquired the right to the extrapolated calculation of disability (usually after 3 years), the refund ratio may be reduced.

Selecting a pension fund should be done with some consideration as their conditions and investment strategies vary. Most mandatory pension funds are co-insurance funds which are considered a better option for people with families, working in high-risk professions or with health issues. Some funds (e.g. Frjálsi lífeyrissjóðurinn), may be an option for healthy, single individuals who can afford to take more chances and don’t expect to have to rely solely on the pension payments in their retirement. In some funds, a portion of the individual’s contribution remains their personal property and can be paid out from age 60.

More information can be found on the Icelandic Pension Funds Association’s website: https://www.lifeyrismal.is/en.

Mandatory pension

Here you can find a list of all mandatory pension funds in Iceland (mandatory meaning that they are co-insurance funds and you must select one of them): https://www.lifeyrismal.is/en/pension-funds#. Some of them have information in English, but unfortunately not all of them.

Optional (Private) Pension

You can pay up to 4% of the salary into a private pension plan.

Foreign nationals outside the EEA/EU/USA can apply to have their balance of personal pension plan reimbursed when moving from Iceland. The reimbursement covers the contribution paid in addition to accrued interest, with taxes deducted.

Here is a list of all private pension plan providers approved by the Icelandic tax authorities (page only available in Icelandic, but the list is there): https://www.rsk.is/atvinnurekstur/framtal-og-alagning/lifeyrissjodir/#tab2.

Below are links to some of the most popular private pension funds (some only have information in Icelandic):

Unions

Union membership is optional but non-EEA citizens may find it difficult to get their work permits renewed if they are not union members. Fees are 0,7-1,0% of your gross salary.

Joining a union has pros and cons. It gives access to extended sick pay/disability funds, which entitles you to payments if you develop a long-term illness/disability. Unions also offer legal advice and various other services. On the flip side, union members are obliged to follow their union should there be a general strike, and thereby risk some loss of income.

Vacation days

Vacation entitlement for an employee’s first 5 years of employment is 24 days p/year but paid vacation needs to be accrued for up to a year before it is used (2 days p/each month of full-time work). The Icelandic vacation day accrual system seems complicated at first but you will get the hang of it.

Finding a job in Iceland

Visiting the EURES Job Mobility Portal is a wise first step: www.eures.europa.eu  > search for a job.

The portal contains a great variety of job opportunities. The website also contains general information on living and working in Iceland and information about the current situation in the labor market.

You will find complementary and more specific information on the Icelandic EURES website: www.eures.is. For all EURES job vacancies in Iceland, you are requested to fill out an online application form at www.vinnumalastofnun.is/eures

Make sure you fill out the form thoroughly to give the most accurate description of yourself and your qualifications. It’s important that you list all previous work experiences and education, both in your home country and abroad and that your contact information is accurate and telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are active. In case you have made a CV you can attach it to your form. Still, you should fill in all the fields in the form as it enables EURES to find your application when a job that meets your qualification becomes available. The form must be filled out in English. When you have filled out and submitted the application form you are welcome to contact the Icelandic EURES advisers at eures@vmst.is  to discuss your job opportunities. Your local EURES adviser can also assist you. To find your local EURES office, go to: http://europa.eu.int/eures.

Below are some other ways to search for a job in Iceland. For best results, you may wish to use all of the methods listed below.

Popular job vacancy websites

Private employment agencies

You may, free of charge, register with one or more employment agencies. They will tell you what information you need to have readily available (for instance, a CV/résumé, certificates, diplomas, and references). Get the Alfred app, because it is now the most popular way to advertise job vacancies and reaches a huge crowd of job seekers.

Read the advertisements section in the local newspapers

The largest papers in Iceland are Morgunbladid (www.mbl.is) and Fréttabladid (www.visir.is). The employment section (Atvinna) comes on Sundays in Morgunbladid and Saturdays in Fréttabladid. Note that most job advertisements are in Icelandic.

Speculative applications

If you know what kind of business you want to work for, you may want to send them your application with your CV, call them directly or visit them and ask if there are any positions available. Also, visit their website where open vacancies within the company are often listed. EURES can also help you find suitable enterprises.

Contacts

Tell everyone you know in Iceland that you are looking for employment. Word-of-mouth via family and friends often gives good results.

Are your diplomas valid in Iceland?

It is wise to find out which jobs are open for a person with your qualifications. You can also have your diploma assessed for equivalence and recognition in Iceland. The basic principle is that valid qualification to practice a certain profession in your homeland is also valid in other EU/EEA countries. Higher degrees, 3 years of studies [BA, BSc, BS], and vocational studies with secondary school education should be recognized all over the EU/EEA.

The Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture is responsible for the coordination of recognition procedures in Iceland. The ministry does not process all applications for recognition. Individual ministries handle the recognition for their respective spheres, for instance, the Ministry of Health is responsible for recognition for medical and health professions. The best place to begin collecting the information you need is the website: www.menntagatt.is

An assessment of the equivalence of your diplomas will make it easier for Icelandic employers to evaluate your knowledge and skills. It may also help you to get a better job with higher pay. However, a lack of Icelandic language skills will limit your options for a qualified job considerably.

Job agencies