Last updated on: December 19th, 2022
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
Normal Working Hours
In Denmark, there are no statutory rules on the duration of standard work hours. Working hours are determined by a collective bargaining agreement or an employment contract.
According to the law, the average workweek cannot be more than 48 hours, including overtime, during a 4-month period. The annual paid leave and sick leaves are not included while calculating the average working time.
The majority of businesses in Denmark consider 37 hours of work weekly. The working hours are usually from Monday to Friday, from 8 or 9 am to 4 or 5 pm.
The working hours’ rules may be varied to the appropriate extent during unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters, accidents, equipment failures, etc. 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.
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 are no statutory obligations in Danish Law that provide recording requirements. According to the European Court of Justice, all the member states must have a recording system in place that records the daily working hours(in relation to maximum weekly working time, rest breaks, daily and weekly rest periods, etc.) of their employees.
Also, the working hours extended during unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters, accidents, equipment failures, etc. shall be documented in writing by the employer. Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, Sec 52.
Overtime is considered when the employee works beyond their normal working hours. Overtime is governed by collective agreements as there are no regulations in Danish Law regarding overtime.
Any work performed between 10 pm to 5 am is considered night work unless otherwise agreed. The time period shall be at least 7 working hours and must include the hours of 12:00 am and 5:00 pm.
The normal working hours for night employees shall not exceed an average of 8 hours per 24- hour period, calculated over a period of 4 months.
Night employee means an employee who normally works at least 3 hours of their 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.
Employees shall be offered a free health check before they begin working at night and thereafter at regular intervals of less than 3 years. Night employees suffering from health problems due to working at night shall be transferred to the day shift whenever possible. Act on the implementation of parts of the Working Time Directive, Sec 5.
An employee is entitled to an unpaid break after 6 consecutive hours of work for the duration of time as specified in their employment contract. The duration of the break is usually at least 30 minutes Sec 3, Act on the implementation of parts of the Working Time Directive.
Daily Rest Period
Employees are entitled to a rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours within a 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. The rest period may be also reduced to 8 hours for 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
Employees are entitled to a weekly rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours within each period of 7 days. If possible, the weekly rest period for all employees shall fall on Sunday
If the employee who takes care of people, animals, or plants has worked on their rest day in case of necessity, in such cases the weekly rest shall be replaced by a corresponding rest period later Danish Working Environment Act, No. 268 of March 18, 2005, § § 50-51.
There are 11 paid 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.
Pay– If an employee works overtime on a public holiday shall be entitled to receive a premium of 100% of their average salary. Holiday Act, No. 762 of June 27, 2011 (as amended).
Employees are entitled to 5 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 an 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. Although, the EU has an emphasis on introducing a statutory minimum wage to its member states.
A female employee has the right to pregnancy and childbirth leave from 4 weeks before expected childbirth, and maternity leaves 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 4 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. The right of absence is extended in circumstances when the mother has pregnancy-related sickness, but only for a maximum of 46 weeks after childbirth. The father or co-mother may still exercise their right to be absent if the child is stillborn or passes away before the 32nd week after birth.
Employees must have been employed for at least 13 weeks and should have worked for a minimum of 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 should have worked for a minimum of 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 of 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 4 weeks may be extended by up to another 4 weeks if the reception of the child lasts longer than the expected 4 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 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. The leave distribution shall be as follows –
- 8 weeks of transferable maternity and paternity leave for each parent which must be used by the partner before the child’s first birthday;
- 9 weeks of earmarked parental leave for each parent; and
- 5 weeks of transferable parental leave to be taken before the child’s ninth birthday.
This breakdown amounts to 24 weeks of leave per parent, 13 of which are transferable, for a total of 48 weeks of leave combined. 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 working 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 the employee 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.
Employees have the right to paid time off for caring for family members if a family member of theirs requests to die in their own home. The municipal council provides compensation for the leaves. The caring allowance is 1.5 times the daily allowance. Employees who are not entitled to care allowance will be paid DKK 11,609 monthly in care allowance.
In the event of death, the right to care allowance is retained for up to 14 days after the death. The municipal board may exceptionally decide on the termination of care allowance if care at home is no longer appropriate. Promulgation of the law on social services, § 119, 120 & 121.
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.