Do Danes want to cut their weekly working hours?

One in seven people who work in Denmark would like to work fewer hours in a week, according to national statistics.

Do Danes want to cut their weekly working hours?
Photo: IgorTishenko/Depositphotos

Denmark’s standard working week is 37.5 hours – already a little less than countries such as the United Kingdom and United States, where a 40-hour week is generally considered the norm.

In the past, Nordic neighbours Sweden and Finland have seen some discussion of a four-day week or six-hour working day, although in neither country is it government policy and such a move appears a long way off in both cases.

READ ALSO: Why Sweden is a long way from six-hour days

While Denmark has had even less talk of reducing the standard working week, Danish workers would prefer to cut back slightly on their total weekly hours spent at their jobs, according to Statistics Denmark data.

People at the typical age for starting a family and people with university education are among the groups which particularly expressed a desire to reduce working hours.

A total of 382,000 people currently in work – around 16 percent of all working people in the country – said in a Statistics Denmark survey that they would prefer to work fewer hours, the agency writes in a press release.

Employees and self-employed people, as well as part-time and full-time workers, were all included in the research.

In the 35-44 years age group, as many as 19 percent – 98,000 people — said they would prefer to work fewer hours than their current load.

“The preference for working less goes up a notch when people reach the age of 35, which is an age at which many are starting families or have small children,” Statistics Denmark clerk Martin Faris Sawaed Nielsen.

Denmark’s average ages for first-time parents are 31 for women and 33 for men.

“There are also many people in the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups who want to reduce their working hours. After this, the percentage drops markedly, with work and family commitments typically taking up less time,” Nielsen said.

People with university backgrounds (lange videregående uddannelser) are also above the average for expressing a preference for reducing work hours, at 21 percent.

Seven percent of those involved in the study – 190,000 working people – said they would like to work more hours than they currently do.

READ ALSO: What's it like to work in Denmark as a foreigner? Here's what you told us

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Why it pays to check your Danish preliminary tax return in January

Taxpayers in Denmark still have time to adjust their 2023 preliminary tax return (forskudsopgørelse) with Skat, the Danish Tax Agency, before too much or too little is deducted from January paychecks.

Why it pays to check your Danish preliminary tax return in January

Preliminary tax returns or forskudsopgørelser for the forthcoming year are released in November, meaning they can carry information over from the preceding tax year (the current year at the time of release). Tax years in Denmark follow calendar years.

If your circumstances have changed since last year, it’s therefore a good idea to update your preliminary tax returns for 2023 now.

It should be noted that taxpayers who do not pay the right amount of tax in the first month of the year can correct their preliminary returns later in 2023. This means the difference in tax paid in January would be spread across the rest of the year.

But if your circumstances have changed significantly since the last calendar year it makes sense to update now so that you are paying the correct amount of tax from the beginning of the new (tax) year.

READ ALSO: Forskudsopgørelse: Why checking your preliminary Danish tax return matters

“It’s never too late to go in and check your preliminary tax return. You can do that every day, all year round. It’s just important to do it now in relation to the paycheck for January,” Danish Tax Authority junior director Jan Møller Mikkelsen told news wire Ritzau.

Annual tax returns (årsopgørelser) in Denmark cover calendar years. They are released in March and finalised in late spring, meaning you have this period to correct the information on your tax return from the previous calendar year.

If you paid too much tax during the preceding year and didn’t adjust your preliminary return during the course of that year, you could therefore correct the final return the following spring to ensure you still paid the correct tax. Paying too much tax would result in a rebate, but the reverse applies if you pay under the correct rate for your circumstances, meaning you might receive a large bill further down the line.

Both of these scenarios can be avoided by adjusting the forskudsopgørelse during the ongoing tax (calendar) year.

When wages are paid into current accounts at the end of this month, it will be the first wage packet of 2023. That means now is the last chance to correct tax details carried over from 2022 to make sure deductions of income tax for the first monthly wage of 2023 are correct.

“We experience increasing numbers of calls from the public in January when people can’t understand why the first payment of the year is wrong,” Mikkelsen said.

“Now is the time to go in and check the preliminary tax return if you want to ensure the correct wages are paid in January,” he said.

The tax authority advises updating your preliminary return or forskudsopgørelse — a projection of your expected income for the year along with the deductions you’re eligible for — if your circumstances have changed in one or more of the following ways:

  • Changed jobs 
  • Been promoted or received a salary increase 
  • Taken on a mortgage 
  • Refinanced your mortgage 
  • Changed your commute 

Because a relatively large number of people refinanced their mortgages in 2023, this is an area that should be given particular attention for those affected, Mikkelsen noted.

You can change your preliminary tax return any day of the year by visiting the Skat website and signing in with your MitID. The agency can also be contacted over the phone or in writing for guidance on the preliminary return and other tax matters.