The Labour Law in Denmark is regulated mainly by the Working Environment Act of 2005. The Act governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, rest periods, wages, etc. The other acts that govern employment relationships are the Salaried Employees Act, the Vacation Act, the Act on Maternity Leave and Allowance, the Act on Sickness Benefits, the Act on Workers’ Compensation, collective bargaining agreements, and individual contracts.
Hours & Pay Regulations
There is no legislative provision on what constitutes normal working hours and therefore determined through collective agreements. During a period of 4 months, the average working week should not exceed 48 hours including overtime. Periods of annual paid vacation and periods of sick leave are not included in or are neutral in relation to the calculation of the average for working time.
In normal cases, the working hours are usually fixed at 37 hours a week. Part-time is when working hours are less than 37 hours per week. Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, § § 50-51, Sec 4, Act on the implementation of parts of the Working Time Directive.
In case employer and employee have an agreement to be available outside normal working hours –
- If employees are at home and can be called, the time counts as rest time until the employee is called for work purposes.
- If employees are at the workplace and are available, time counts as working time.
On-call employees are also covered by rules on rest periods. This means that every time an employee goes home from work – whether after work or regular work they must have at least 11 hours of continuous rest within the last 24 hours. Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, § § 52.
There is no requirement in the legislation which provides for recording requirements but the European Court of Justice had declared that all employers must, in principle, have a system in place to record the actual daily working hours of their staff.
Overtime is governed by collective agreements as there are no regulations in the Law with regards to overtime. Overtime pay is usually fixed at 150 – 200 %. Some collective agreements allow employees to choose between receiving payment and being allocated time off in lieu of payment.
The night period means a period of at least 7 hours, covering the period between 12 am and 5.00 am. Unless otherwise agreed, the night period is from 10 pm to 5 a.m.
Night employee means an employee who normally carries out at least 3 hours of his daily working time during the night period or an employee who carries out night work for at least 300 hours within a period of 12 months. An employee working at night may not, on average, work more than 8 hours per 24-hour period calculated over a period of 4 months. Sec 5, Act on the implementation of parts of the Working Time Directive.
Employees are entitled to an unpaid break during any working day lasting longer than 6 hours. The break is taken according to the rules normally laid down for the place of work for the laying of working time. The duration of the break is usually determined by the employer-employee agreement, but it usually lasts 30 minutes at least. Sec 3, Act on the implementation of parts of the Working Time Directive.
Daily Rest Period
Working hours shall be organized so as to allow a rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours within every period of 24 hours.
The rest period may be reduced to 8 hours for a change of shifts in workplaces with several shifts when it is not possible to maintain the daily or weekly rest period between the end of the work of one shift and the start of another shift & agricultural work up to 30 days in any calendar year. Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, § § 50-54.
Weekly Rest Period
Within each period of 7 days, employees shall have a weekly 24-hour period rest period, which shall be in immediately after a daily rest period. The weekly 24-hour period off shall, as far as possible, fall on a Sunday, and, as far as possible, at the same time for all employees at the workplace.
For work which involves caring for people, animals, or plants, and for work which is necessary to preserve objects of value, the weekly 24-hour rest period may be replaced by a corresponding period off later, when this is necessary for reasons of protection or to ensure continuous provision of services or sustained production. Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, § § 50-51.
There are 11 public holidays in Denmark:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- Easter Monday
- General Prayer Day
- Whit Monday/Pentecost
- Dec. 25: Christmas Day
- Dec. 26: Boxing Day
A public holiday that falls on a weekend is not moved to another date. Holiday Act, No. 762 of June 27, 2011 (as amended).
Employees are entitled to five weeks of vacation per year, corresponding to 25 working days. Employees earn the right to 2.08 days of paid holiday for each month of employment in a calendar year (qualifying year). Vacation will be accrued from 1st September to 31st August (12 months) and can be used between 1st September and 31st December (16 months).
The employer shall operate with concurrent holidays, meaning that holidays can be taken in the same year in which the holiday entitlement is qualified. To provide the employees with improved flexibility in planning the paid holiday, the new Holiday Act operates within a 16 months period, in which the holidays can be taken.
The employee will have 2.08 days after 1 month’s employment. Hence Employees qualify for 2.08 days of paid holidays during every month of employment, and accordingly 25 days per year.
Employees will be entitled to at least a minimum of 15 days of annual leave at one time. Leave begins at the beginning of working hours on the first holiday and ends at the end of working hours on the last holiday.
Employee’s weekly rest day or public holiday shall not be counted as part of annual leave for the purpose of entitlement of leave. Employees can apply for paid holidays in advance, meaning that if the employee wants to take holidays and has not yet qualified for (a sufficient number of) paid holidays, an agreement between the employer and the employee can be made.
An employee can accrue and take leave during the same period. Holiday leave is earned from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 (qualifying year) and taken as it is accrued during the qualifying year and the subsequent four-month period.
Sick leave during the time of annual vacation: In case an employee falls ill prior to the beginning of the annual leave, the employee is not obligated to start the vacation. Where an employee falls ill during the course of the vacation, such employee will be entitled to compensatory leave after 5 days of illness during the holiday year subject to proper medical documentation. The employee acquires the right to compensatory leave from the day on which the employee notifies the employer of the illness unless very special circumstances apply. If the employee has accrued less than 25 vacation days, the number of vacation days & the right to compensatory leave will be proportionately lesser. Holiday Act, No. 762 of June 27, 2011 (as amended), § § 8, 14, 24 (Danish).
There is no statutory minimum wage in Denmark.
A female employee has the right to pregnancy and childbirth leave from four weeks before expected childbirth, maternity leave until 14 weeks after childbirth,(the first 2 weeks after the birth is mandatory). The father or co-mother enters into the mother’s right of 32 weeks of absence if the mother dies or becomes unable to care for the child due to illness.
Female salaried employees are entitled to 50 percent of their salary during maternity leave from four weeks before expected childbirth until 14 weeks after childbirth. Based on individual employment agreements or collective bargaining agreements, employees may be entitled to full salary during some of their maternity leave. An employer that pays salary during maternity leave may be entitled to reimbursement from the public authority Udbetaling Danmark.
If the child is stillborn, dies, or is adopted before the 32nd week after birth, the mother has the right to be absent for 14 weeks after the child’s death or adoption. In cases where the mother suffers from a pregnancy-related illness, the right of absence is extended, however, until a maximum of 46 weeks after the birth. If the child is stillborn or dies before the 32nd week after birth, the father or co-mother retains the right to absence.
Employees must have been employed for at least 13 weeks and 120 hours to be eligible for maternity benefits. Employees on maternity leave are entitled to return to either their previous job or an equivalent job. Right to Leave and Daily Allowances for Maternity, No. 872 (as amended) § § 6-8.
Biological fathers and employees (male or female) who are legal, though not biologically, the child’s parent, is entitled to 2 consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave within 14 weeks after childbirth.
Fathers and nonbirth mothers are able to take their leave in non-consecutive periods, as long as the leave is taken within the first 14 weeks after the birth and has been agreed upon with the employer. Employees must have been employed for at least 13 weeks and 120 hours to be eligible for paternity benefits. Employees on paternity leave are entitled to return to either their previous job or an equivalent job.
Based on individual employment agreements or collective bargaining agreements, employees may be entitled to full salary during some of their paternity or parental leave. Right to Leave and Daily Allowances for Maternity, No. 872 (as amended) § § 6-8.
Adoptive parents are entitled to a total of 32 weeks’ parental leave, which can be shared equally between them. Both adoptive parents receiving a child abroad are entitled to paid leave for up to 4 weeks prior to the reception. The four weeks may be extended by up to another four weeks if the reception of the child lasts longer than the expected four weeks, provided that the delay is not due to the adoptive parents’ circumstances.
If an adopted child dies before the 32nd week after receiving the child, one of the adoptive parents is entitled to absence for 14 weeks after the child’s death.
Adoptive parents who are to receive an adopted child in Denmark are entitled to paid leave of absence for up to 1 week before receiving the child if the child does not already have a residence in the adopters’ home. The right to absence is extended for up to 1 week if the stay is longer than 1 week for reasons that cannot be attributed to the future adopters.
The adoptive parents are entitled to paid leave for 14 weeks after the reception of the child. The parents can share the 14 weeks of leave between them, but they can only take leave one at a time. Employees on adoption leave are entitled to return to either their previous job or an equivalent job.
If the child is hospitalized, the period during which there is a right to absence is extended or postponed.
If the work does not resume at admission, extend the period of entitlement to the absence of hospitalization period if the hospitalization takes place during the first 46 weeks after delivery or receipt. However, the right of absence can be extended for a maximum of 3 months. Right to Leave and Daily Allowances for Maternity, No. 872 (as amended) § 8.
After the 14th week after the birth or adoption of the child, each of the parents is entitled to unpaid parental leave for 32 weeks. However, the father or co-mother has the right to start parental leave within the first 14 weeks after the birth.
Each of the parents has the right to extend parental leave according to § 9 from 32 weeks to 40 weeks. Employed employees and self-employed persons have the right to extend parental leave from 32 weeks to 46 weeks. Right to Leave and Daily Allowances for Maternity, No. 872 (as amended) § 9.
Salaried employees are entitled to full salary, including bonus, during sick leave. An employee is entitled to 30 days of paid sick leave. An employee who is not covered by the Salaried Employees Act may be entitled to pay during a sick leave under an individual employment agreement or the applicable collective agreement. An employee who has no statutory or contractual right to pay during sick leave may be entitled to sickness benefits pursuant to the Danish Act on Sickness Benefits.
An employee is partially incapacitated for work due to illness when it is estimated that he or she can only perform the work in part or when two or more treatments prescribed by a doctor or dentist result in partial absence from work. It is a condition that the employee’s absence is at least 4 hours per. week, which includes transport and waiting time for outpatient treatments. Salaried Employees Act, No. 542 of June 24, 2005, § 5 (Danish); Act on Sickness Benefits.
The military offers personnel the right to stay home with a family member that has elected to die in his or her own home. Such leave is paid, provided the municipality has granted such compensation. Promulgation of the law on social services, § 119
An employee is entitled to unpaid leave due to force majeure when compelling family reasons arise in the event of illness or accident that makes the employee’s immediate presence urgently necessary. Circular on Leave for Family Reason, § 5.
An employee is entitled to paid leave for up to 5 days per. the child within 12 consecutive months in connection with the employee’s hospitalization together with their own children under 14 years of age. The same applies if the child stays at home during the hospitalization. Circular on Leave for Family Reason, § 4.
Employees who lose a child before the age of 18 are entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid leave. This also applies to co-mothers, adoptive parents, and future adoptive parents. Act on Sickness Benefits, No. 48 of January 2016.
Last updated on: April 2nd, 2021