Government changes Danish residency requirement for unemployment insurance

The government and parliamentary ally the Danish People’s Party (DF) have changed a proposed new residency requirement for unemployment insurance cover, the Ministry of Employment announced on Thursday.

Government changes Danish residency requirement for unemployment insurance
Minister of Employment Troels Lund Poulsen. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Under the proposal, residency in Denmark or another EU or EEA country for seven of the last 12 years will be required in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, dagpenge in Danish.

“Procedure of this bill has shown that there is a need for people to be able to work abroad for longer than one year without losing eligibility for unemployment cover. We have listened to that,” Minister of Employment Troels Lund Poulsen and DF employment spokesperson Bent Bøgsted said in a joint press statement released on Thursday.

The adjusted rule would mean that “Danes who have worked abroad for shorter periods will not be affected, while people from third countries must still work and reside in Denmark for a long time before they are entitled to unemployment benefits. That was the intention all along,” it continued.

The bill providing for the new requirement is currently awaiting the second of the three procedural parliamentary hearings on December 18th. After the third hearing, it can be passed into law and has been scheduled to come into effect from January 1st.

The originally-proposed rule change would have required members of service providers, A-kasser, to document residence in Denmark or another EU or EEA country for seven of the last eight years in order to be eligible for payouts if they become unemployed.

Critics of the plan have noted its potential impact on both Danes and foreign citizens who risk losing insurance cover after working abroad, despite paying fully into the A-kasse system for many years, while industry representatives have said that requiring proof of residence could result in administrative backlogs.

The opposition Social Democrat party, initially a backer of the plan, withdrew its support earlier this month, calling the proposal “not thoroughly prepared”.

Pushback against the stringent new requirement appears to have resulted in the milder form now proposed by the government.

Over 80 percent of people who could lose eligibility under the new version of the requirement are non-EU or EEA citizens, according to the ministry’s press release. The proportion under the previous form was 60 percent, the statement said.

In a written response to a parliamentary question, Poulsen earlier confirmed that the stricter residency requirement was expected to affect 10,900 people on January 1st, according to a report by news agency Ritzau.

Of these 10,900 people who would lose eligibility for unemployment benefits, 100 are currently out of work and would therefore see their income significantly reduced as they are switched to a more basic form of social welfare.

It is not clear how those numbers are changed by the new version of the rule.

The new requirements are to take partial effect on January 1st next year and be fully phased in by 2021.

That means residency requirements of five years of the last 12 in 2019, six of the last 12 years in in 2020 and the full seven-year requirement in 2021, under the adjusted bill announced on Thursday.

Payouts to A-kasse members are funded in part by the state and in part by membership fees.

READ ALSO: Unemployment insurance applicants in Denmark must provide proof of foreign address under new rules

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.