Access to the labour market

Employers are in general free to choose if and who they hire for a particular job. Employers must however exercise this freedom in accordance with legal provisions banning discrimination between workers based on their gender or nationality, rules protecting young workers, requirements for professional qualifications in a number of occupations and restrictions regarding hiring of workers from countries outside the EEA-area. 

The Directorate of Labour operates regional employment offices around the country which provide free of charge services to people seeking employment and to employers in search of workers. 

Private employment agencies also offer services to workers and employers. These services must be rendered free of charge to individual job seekers. Information about vacancies can also be found in newspapers and on company websites.


Employers are prohibited from discriminating between applicants on the basis of gender. The same applies for promotion, changing of position, continuing education, vocational training, study sabbaticals, dismissal, working conditions and working environment. It is furthermore prohibited to advertise, or publish an advertisement for a vacant position indicating that a worker of one sex is preferred over the other. This does not apply, however, if the aim of the advertiser is to promote a more equal distribution of the sexes within an occupational sector, and that shall then be indicated in the advertisement. The same rule applies if there are legitimate reasons for advertising only for applicants of one of the sexes. 

Age limits

According to rules regarding health and safety of young workers, limitations are set to the type of work, working environment and working time of people under the age of 18. Children may for example only be employed after reaching the age of 14 years and then only for light work.
A specific retirement age for workers is not provided for in law or collective agreements in the private sector labour market. Retirement age can be said to be governed by rules relating to entitlement to old age pension.  For the majority of workers, entitlement to old age pension is set at the age of 67 years. Workers have the option of early retirement at the age of 65 or to postpone their retirement to the age of 70. Seamen are however entitled to old age pension at the age of 60.

Professional qualifications

Access to certain professions is restricted by law to persons who have finished studies in the relevant field or to those having obtained a particular qualification. This applies in many fields of industry, health services, civil engineering etc.

Foreign workers

The Icelandic labour market is open to foreign workers who fall under the rules of the EEA-Agreement. Workers from countries not belonging to the EEA area are on the other hand, according to the Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act, required to work under work permits issued to their respective employer by the Directorate of labour.