What should you be aware of when you are a new employee?
Unemployment fund (a-kasse)
The unemployment fund pays out unemployment benefits to the unemployed.
If you lose your job, the unemployment fund will be what you rely on, and your payments to the unemployment fund is thus an insurance policy which guarantees you an income, even if you lose your job.
You cannot delay joining the unemployment fund until you become unemployed. If you want the security being a member of an unemployment fund provides, you must pay for it while you are working. Joining an unemployment fund even before you finish your studies is a good idea. If you join in good time, you avoid quarantine after graduation, should you have a few months without income after your studies.
Most engineers are members of Akademikernes A-kasse, which collaborates with IDA, but of course, there are interdisciplinary unemployment funds which might be relevant to you. This applies to, for example, unemployment funds for the self-employed or for managers, which may also be relevant to you, depending on the industry you end up in.
Your trade union is a professional network where you are grouped with people in similar professional disciplines. For example, your trade union provides professional assistance in case you have problems at work, have been laid off or sustained a work-related injury. A trade union will often have a number of membership benefits and arrange members’ meetings with various professional contents.
The engineers’ union, IDA, is the main trade union for engineers, but there are also other unions which may be an option for engineers.
If you are in doubt as to what the difference between an unemployment fund and a trade union is, one might say that an unemployment fund is there for you when you do not have a job, and a union is there for you when you have a job.
Pension and healthcare plan
At the vast majority of places, a portion of your salary will automatically get paid into a pension plan. But make sure to keep track of how much and where the money is paid and if you do not have a pension plan as part of your job, be sure to set one up.
Talk to your colleagues, your union representative or your boss if you are in doubt as to how you are covered.
This also applies to private healthcare plans which some companies offer to their employees. The contents of healthcare plans differ greatly, as does the coverage they provide, so be sure to familiarise yourself with your options and offers.