Denmark – Amendment to Parental and Maternity Time Off Regulations
In March of 2022, the Denmark Parliament adopted a bill amending the Parental Leave Act and bringing it into line with the 2019 European Work-life Balance Directive. Effective January 1, 2024, certain new rules shall enter into force, in order to create a better work-life balance and to promote gender equality.
Current Maternity and Parental Leave in Denmark
A female employee has the right to pregnancy and childbirth leave from 4 weeks before expected childbirth, and maternity leave until 14 weeks after childbirth, (the first 2 weeks after the birth is mandatory). A mother has the right and duty to be absent in the first 2 weeks after a birth. After this, she has the right to be absent for a further 8 weeks.
A father or co-mother has the right to absence for 2 consecutive weeks after the birth or after receiving the child in the home or by agreement with the employer within the first 10 weeks after the birth.
Definition of Co-mother – The female partner of the pregnant woman is considered co-mother of the child and thus is considered a legal parent.
After childbirth, each parent will be entitled to maternity benefits for 24 weeks. For employees, the first two weeks after childbirth will be earmarked for each parent. After this, a further nine weeks of additional leave are earmarked to each parent. The remaining maternity benefits related to 13 weeks of leave for each parent may be transferred from one parent to the other.
After the 10th week after the birth or reception of the child, each of the parents has the right to absence for 32 weeks. However, the father or co-mother has the right to start the absence within the first 10 weeks after the birth. If a child is adopted by a sole adopter, this parent also has the right to start the absence within the first 10 weeks after receiving the child.
Effective January 1, 2024, the new rules introduce the possibility of transferring part of the leave to a closely related family member e.g., grandparents or siblings. The transferred part of the leave will have to be taken before the child turns 1.
Furthermore, flexible arrangements are made available for LGBT+ families, where up to four parents (the two legal and the two social parents) can share a part of the parental leave. LGBT+ families will be able to transfer available weeks to ‘social’ relatives, including the spouse of the legal parent, a known donor with a parental relationship with the child, or for example, the donor’s spouse/partner.
Takeaway – Employers must take proactive steps to comply with the changes before the amendment comes into effect. They must review and potentially revise their policies in order to align with the upcoming changes to the existing leave requirements.