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When do I have the right to a day off work in Denmark?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 13 Feb, 2020 Updated Thu 13 Feb 2020 18:55 CEST
When do I have the right to a day off work in Denmark?

Sometimes things crop up in life that require time away from work, whether it’s an emergency in the family, a dental appointment, or even a blizzard.


Even people who have been working in Denmark for a long time may not know exactly what their rights are in these situations, and the truth is it differs somewhat between sectors and individual employers.

Employers in Denmark must give a minimum of 25 days' paid vacation per year for full-time employees, with some offering more than that, and it may also be possible to ask for additional unpaid leave.

One of the perks of being a full-time employee in the country, Danish holiday usually adds up to five weeks of vacation annually, plus nine days of public holidays.

Some companies also offer additional general holidays for staff, depending on tradition – for example, on Labour Day or Constitution Day, or Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

There are a number of rules relating to the different types of vacation days, how they are earned and when you can use them. Some of these are currently in the process of being updated, so it is worth reading up.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about vacation in Denmark – and how the rules are about to change

In some special situations, you may be entitled to leave from work beyond those 25 days (or whatever the allowance at your workplace is).

If you don’t have an arrangement with your employer to take ‘extra’ paid leave on a given day (such as the non-public holiday occasions mentioned above), then you must be present for work as normal, for the entire day.

Agreements on paid leave can be stated in your employment contract, staff handbook or the collective bargaining agreement (Danish: overenskomst) between your employer and trade union.

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

Doctor and dentists’ appointments

You do not have a guaranteed right to time off if you need to visit your doctor or dentist for things like regular check ups. These should be organized outside of working hours wherever possible, or you could arrange with your employer to take unpaid leave.

If you are taken ill, however, different rules apply. You can read more about sick leave in Denmark in this article.

‘Care days’

Omsorgsdage, which translates approximately to ‘care days’ for looking after loved ones, are a common feature of public collective bargaining agreements, but for people working in the private sector they are rare unless provided for by your contract.

However, a provision for paid leave to take care of a sick child – termed barnets første sygedag (child’s first sick day) – is more widespread. In other words, many companies allow for taking time off if your child becomes ill.

You’ll need to check if your company gives this benefit as it’s something that’s provided for through agreements with the company, rather than legislation.

The way the benefit generally works is that on the first day that the child is ill, parents can take the day off to care for their sick child, provided that the child is below a certain age (such as 18) and lives with the parent (or at least to a certain extent).

Some companies also give a second child’s sick day, which works the same way, but it could be that the other parent stays home with the child on the second day. 

Accident, illness and family bereavement

Danish employment law provides for leave in instances with tvingende familiemæssige årsager (urgent family reasons): family sickness, accidents or bereavements. Separation or divorce is not covered here.

When such situations – considered to be force majeure – occur, your employer cannot refuse to give you leave. But it should be noted that any leave you take will be unpaid and you should inform your employer of the situation as soon as you possibly can. You must also be able to document the circumstances responsible for your absence.

Bad weather

It hasn’t been relevant this winter, but snow or other extreme weather can occasionally be enough to make travel to places of work challenging, or impossible or at least cause delays. However, lateness or absence due to the weather is at your own expense, and you must inform your employer as soon as you know that you are not going to be at work at the agreed time.

Your employer has the right to deduct such absences from your pay. Alternatively, you can arrange to use holiday or lieu time off to cover the situation. As an employee, you are obliged to do everything you can within reason to make it to work on time. Provided you do this, your employer cannot take disciplinary action against you for lateness or absence due to bad weather.


If you don’t show up for work without any form of prior arrangement, warning or agreement with your employer, you risk being either opsagt (let go once you have worked the notice period in your contract) or even bortvist (fired on the spot). Some exceptions apply, notably for illness or accidents affecting your family; extreme weather; and being summoned for public service (for example, jury service or if you are an elected local official).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to understand your Danish payslip

Sources: Det Faglige Hus, Borger.dk3F,


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