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NEW YEAR

New laws: Here’s what changes in Denmark in 2020

Several new rules and regulations came into effect in Denmark on January 1st, 2020.

New laws: Here’s what changes in Denmark in 2020
A view from inside the Danish parliament. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The law changes impact a range of areas, from shopping bags to speed limits to taxation on nuts.

Read a summary of the key updates below.

Early pension for physically demanding jobs

A key issue for the governing Social Democrats, new pension rules now in effect enable people with long-term physical health issues resulting from their work to retire early. This could include builders with back injuries, lab assistants with joint problems in their hands or similar. Danish has a specific term for people coming to the end of careers in physically-demanding work: the nedslidte – literally ‘worn-down people’.

The new pension rules give people that fulfil set criteria the option of applying for a pension within six years of their standard retirement age. They must have worked full time for 20-25 years and now be restricted to a maximum of 15 hours’ work weekly due to their health condition.

No more tax on nuts

If you love the taste of almonds or peanuts but not their crunchy Danish price tag, you’ll welcome the rule change which, from January 1st, cuts duty on all types of nuts.

The decision to scrap the tax on nuts was originally made in 2017. Its gradual phasing-in is now complete, so the tax is gone from January 1st this year. This will result in reduced costs for manufacturers, with savings thereby passed on to consumers. A packet of almonds could cost 5 kroner less than its 2018 price, DR writes.

More expensive plastic carrier bags

The charge applied to plastic bags at supermarkets has been trebled from 22 kroner per kilogram to 66 kroner per kilogram. That means stores will now charge 4 kroner per plastic carrier bag.

Mandatory pension scheme for social security recipients

People who receive social security such as the basic form of support for unemployment (kontanthjælp) or unemployment insurance (dagpenge) will soon be able to see a contribution to their pensions from that income.

The contribution is 0.3 percent of income in 2020 and will increase annually until 2030, when it will reach 3.3 percent. The contribution will be paid by the state, so there will be no reduction in the monthly amount received.

READ ALSO: Working in Denmark? Here's what you need to know about pensions

New speed limit for trucks

The speed limit for trucks on Danish roads has been increased from 70 kilometres per hour to 80 kilometres per hour on roads in thinly populated areas and on two-lane expressways. Local authorities can still restrict speed limits in areas where they deem 80 km/h to be too fast, however.

The rules apply to trailers and caravans as well as to HGVs.

Rules on school absence streamlined

A single set of rules is now applied nationwide for registration of school attendance, with children registered at the beginning of the day as well as at the end of the day for seventh grade upwards. Head teachers are required to inform municipal authorities if a child has an unapproved absence rate of 15 percent or more (this rule has been in place since August).

Failure to meet minimum attendance can result in quarterly withdrawal of the social security payment for families with children, børnecheck.

Industrial accidents are now more easily recognized

Injuries sustained at work now have a more straightforward path to being recognized by authorities as industrial accidents. Parliament has passed a law which means that injuries which heal on their own and other accidents which don’t result in compensation can also be classed as industrial accidents. The change applies to cases from January 1st onward.

New rules for people looking for work

People receiving social security payments while out of work were required under old rules to check the Jobnet.dk website weekly for suggested jobs to which they could apply. That rule no longer exists.

Another rule change means that mandatory job applications are no longer required in the final six weeks of receiving benefits before starting a new job, going on parental leave, a fleksjob scheme, or certain pension types including the state pension.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Should I sign up with a Danish union and get unemployment insurance?

Cash for low income families

A new temporary measure has been introduced, designed to assist families whose income is close to the poverty line. The rule is temporary because a government-appointed commission is currently working on new recommendations on how social security can be structured in a way that protects children from poverty.

The temporary help can be given to families with children aged 0-14 who are encompassed by current rules limiting unemployment benefits (kontanthjælpsloftet) or the reduced social security for recently-arrived refugees and their families (integrationsydelsen).

It amounts to a tax-free payment of between 550-700 kroner monthly and has been estimated to encompass 14,300 families – or 27,900 children.

READ ALSO: Danish income figures show signs of falling inequality

Sources:Beskæftigelsesministeriet, Børne- og Undervisningsministeriet, Folketinget, Danske A-kasser, Jyllands-Posten, Arbejdsmiljø i Danmark, Miljøstyrelsen, ca.dk, Coop, Plastindustrien, Ritzau.

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WEATHER

Essential rain gear for a wet Danish winter (and autumn, spring and summer)

Winter in Denmark is a shock to the system, particularly for those of us who come from warmer, drier climes. But if you know where to look, you can find the right rain gear to keep the Danish drops off your head.

Bicycling in wet Danish weather doesn't have to be
Bicycling in wet Danish weather doesn't have to be "træls" (bothersome) if you're kitted out in the right water resistant gear. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

This roundup is unsponsored and the fruits of much googling, review-reading, and recommendation-begging by a sad, damp American.

Where to shop? 

To try things on, the best places are Intersport, Spejder Sport (home to Columbia, Patagonia, Asivik and FjällRaven) and Eventyr Sport, as well as outdoor outfitter Friluftsland.  

To shop the Danish way, put in the hours combing the racks at your local second hand or charity shop. If you strike out there, search by brand on DBA.dk or Facebook marketplace.

Rain jackets: Regnjakker

Your rain jacket is your second skin in Denmark during the damp winter months. Helly Hansen is a go-to brand, according to a Johannes, a Jutland native who offered his recommendation to The Local. The Norwegian company offers well-made jackets at a reasonable price point, ranging between 600 and about 1,500 kroner. These can be ordered direct from the manufacturer or on Amazon.de (the German one) for delivery in Denmark—if you want to try before you buy, go to Eventyr Sport.  

A budget pick is McKinley, which you can pick up at Intersport. These cost between 200-400 kroner.

The classic Scandinavian splurge rain jacket is Fjällräven—these are available in stand-alone Fjällräven stores, Friluftsland, Eventyr, and Spejder Sport, and cost a not-unsubstantial percentage of your rent starting at about 2,500 kroner and climbing north of 6,000 kroner.

Rain pants: regnbukser

Rain pants are a novelty to those of us who don’t come from bike cultures, but after your first rainy day cycling commute leaves you at the office with drenched trousers you’ll understand the appeal.

The New York Times’ product review service Wirecutter highlights the Marmot PreCip Eco Pant as the best pick—here in Denmark, they’re available for men and women at outdoor gear purveyor Friluftsland for about 700-800 kroner.

McKinley also makes rain pants that will set you back around 200 kroner.  

Some of Patagonia’s rain pants, which we found at Spejder Sport, have side zippers for ventilation—if you’re on the sweatier side, this may be a good call. (Their website also proudly reports these rainpants roll up to the “size of a corncob.”)

Rain sets: regnsæt

Also on the market are rain sets, which are coordinating jacket-pant combos like this one from Asivik. It’s cheaper to buy the set rather than both pieces separately, but for many people it makes more sense to invest in a higher-quality rain jacket and go for a more affordable rain pant.

Backpack rain covers: regnslag til rygsæk

Backpack rain covers are an easy buy and cost orders of magnitude less than the laptops and other electronics they protect. Snag one on the way out the door at Intersport, Spejder Sport, or most anywhere that sells rain gear. Expect to pay about 60-180 kroner—just make sure it fits your backpack.

Gloves: Handsker

Your favourite fluffy mittens may not be well suited for your bike commute. GripGrab, a Danish company popular all over the world, offers a variety of waterproof and winterproof gloves— including the lobster style, which has split fingers that allow you the dexterity to ring your bell, pull your hand break and do a Spock impression at a moment’s notice. These are available at specialty cycling stores.

Rain boots: Gummistøvler

Perfectly serviceable budget rainboots are available at the same retail stores discussed above—though for longevity, look for boots made from rubber rather than PVC.

At a higher price point, Hunter rainboots are sold by Danish online retail giant Zalando and keep you dry and in style.

Tretorn is a Swedish brand over a hundred years old—their rain boots are available for both men and women through Spejder Sport and, of course, their website.

For women: available on the German Amazon website is the Asgard Women’s Short Rain Waterproof Chelsea Boot, one of the best reviewed women’s rain boots that doesn’t make you feel like you’re wearing clown shoes.

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