Government maintains support for residency clause in Danish unemployment insurance

Stricter qualification requirements relating to EU residency in Denmark’s a-kasse unemployment insurance system look set to come into effect from next year, potentially impairing the viability of the system for people who have lived abroad.

Government maintains support for residency clause in Danish unemployment insurance
Minister of Employment Troels Lund Poulsen. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A parliamentary majority remains in favour of the stricter rules, despite concerns being raised over their impact on groups including returning foreign-based Danes and people who have moved to Denmark from non-EU countries.

The rule changes in question relate to eligibility for unemployment insurance, dagpenge in Danish, for which a monthly fee is paid to a provider known in Denmark as an a-kasse.

Under current rules, citizens of non-EU and EEA countries with permission to reside in Denmark must have been a-kasse members for one year and have worked full-time in Denmark for one year in order to qualify for the unemployment insurance.

Those requirements are made significantly stricter in the proposed reform, in which all a-kasse members will need to document residence in Denmark or another EU or EEA country for seven of the last eight years in order to be eligible.

READ ALSO: Unemployment insurance curbs could create administrative jam for internationals in Denmark

Money saved by the proposals has already been reallocated for tax cuts, employment minister Troels Lund Poulsen told parliament on Tuesday as the residence requirement was debated for the first time by lawmakers.

As such, the proposal requiring residence in Denmark during seven of the last eight years in order to qualify for the unemployment insurance is unlikely to be reversed.

The requirement was given the backing of the government and parliamentary ally the Danish People’s Party (DF) in February, in a package which implemented tax cuts to the tune of 500 million kroner.

READ ALSO: Foreigners will help pay for Denmark's tax cuts as welfare rules tightened

The Social Democrats, the largest party in opposition, have said they are prepared to vote for the proposal but favour a more lenient residency requirement of seven of the last 12 years. 

While other opposition parties are against the proposal, DF’s votes alone are enough to secure the majority required for the government to pass the bill.

Poulsen said the Social Democrat-proposed revision was unlikely to gain traction as “It would require revenue that is not there, and the money has been spent”.

The government expects almost 200 million kroner to be saved on dagpenge payments once the residency requirement is fully implemented.

The minister said he had asked officials to calculate the saving provided by the version of the rule proposed by the Social Democrats, but suggested he did not expect it to be large.

The residency requirement means that people who currently live in non-EU countries – and are fee-paying a-kasse members – would not automatically be entitled to the unemployment insurance payouts after returning to Denmark.

It would also potentially affect people who currently live in Denmark but have lived outside of the EU at some time within the last eight years.

The new requirements are expected to take partial effect on January 1st next year, with the rules being phased in gradually, taking full effect by 2021. In 2019, the requirement will residence in Denmark or the EU for five of the last eight years.

During the debate, Red-Green Alliance MP Finn Sørensen called the proposal “pure class warfare”, while Karsten Hønge of the Socialist People’s party said the government and DF were giving normal wage earners “a kick in the shins”, according to Ritzau's report.

READ ALSO: Internal division over proposed curbs on Danish citizenship: report

For members


Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Job searching in Denmark can be a daunting and lengthy process with many hurdles to overcome. The Local spoke to Kay Xander Mellish, author of 'How to Work in Denmark', for her tips on submitting a successful CV and application.

Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

CVs in Denmark often have certain aspects of layout, presentation and content in common. By writing a CV that sticks to some of these recognisable customs, you may improve your chances of catching the eye of a potential employer.

1. Length

“Keep it to one excellent page, or two if you’re more senior. I’d say if you’re aged 30 and under, one page will be enough. Only add the jobs that are relevant. Employers don’t want to hear about that restaurant server or babysitting job if it’s not relevant to the role,” Mellish said.

2. Format

At the top of your CV, a paragraph describing your experience, skills, education and character is a common way to lead into a CV. This text can be adapted depending on the job you’re applying for and how you want to present your skills.

“Add three adjectives about yourself that you can support with an example, rather than ten adjectives with no story. For example, say you are innovative for this reason. People don’t like hot air in Denmark,” Mellish said.

Aside from the profile text, chronological lists of qualifications, relevant employment history and other relevant experience should be kept brief enough to fit the one to two pages.

3. Show your personal side and a photo

It is expected that applicants include a section about their hobbies, even family situation on their CV in Denmark, as well as a photo, to give a sense of who they are as a person.

“Danish employers are interested in you as a human, more so than employers in other countries so include information about yourself, including your age and your hobbies.

“Choose a good quality photo that is not too serious but shows you looking friendly and approachable,” Mellish said.

4. Story telling

“Think in terms of story telling”, Mellish advised. “Pure letters and numbers don’t mean a lot to employers in Denmark, they need to know what projects you’ve done, what role you played and what kind of person you are through your CV.

“So rather than writing ‘I have these grades’, it’s better to say ‘I worked on this project, it took this long, I achieved this'”, Mellish said.

5. Hit the ground running

Mellish called this “plug and play”, where you show you will slot right into the company and get going with the role.

“When employers are reading your CV, they want to know what you can do on day one of the job. Sell your ability to solve someone’s problem. You need to give the impression you can add value straight away.

“In Denmark the average length of time in a job is two and a half years, because you can take your pension when you move, so employers don’t want someone they need to spend time training,” Mellish told The Local.

READ ALSO: Five tips for writing an effective Danish CV

6. Teamwork

“Group work is very important in Denmark, more than individual achievements. So talk about your teamwork and how you worked with a group to produce a good business result. It shouldn’t be ‘me, me, me’ – that’s a turn off,” Mellish said.

7. LinkedIn

“People in Denmark love LinkedIn so you need a fabulous LinkedIn profile with a good picture. Before anyone calls you for an interview they’ll have looked at your LinkedIn profile.

“In your profile, include the storytelling, explaining the projects you’ve worked on. If your job involves a uniform, I recommend wearing it in your LinkedIn photo so people get that impression of you right away. Your background photo should also be work-related, not rainbows or puppies. Use it to tell the story of who you are,” Mellish advised.

8. Unsolicited application

This is when you approach a company or department you would like to work for, without a job being advertised. The Danish term for it is uopfordret ansøgning. 

“Many people make contact on LinkedIn and ask to meet for a coffee, where they chat and rather than pitch for a job, they ask if the person knows anyone looking for someone like them. Danish employers welcome this and many people are hired this way,” Mellish said.

Another way to network is to join a union, Mellish advised. They often have career events but can also help read your contract when you get a job offer, or help with any problems in the workplace. 

9. Ring the recruiter

The phone number of the hiring manager will often be in the job advert. Mellish advised finding a quiet place to ring them from and spending ten to fifteen minutes asking some good business questions.

“This also helps you work out if you might want to work for this person,” Mellish said.

“Send your CV within 24 hours of the phone call and mention you spoke to them in your application,” she added.

10. Patience

“On average it can take six months to find a job in Denmark. If it’s under this, you’re lucky. If it takes a year, it’s not you, it just takes a long time because employers are looking for someone to fit into their team.

“I wrote 100 letters, I got ten responses, three interviews and one job which I had for eight years,” Mellish told The Local.

“Danish employers are not always good at getting back to you. If you don’t hear anything, just keep applying for other jobs. If you sent an application on June 1st, you could send a follow-up email on June 15th, then you’ll have to leave it and move on,” she advised. 

Kay Xander Mellish’s book ‘How to Work in Denmark’ offers both job-searching advice and tips on how to succeed in the Danish workplace.