For members


Jobs news in Denmark: Sick pay claims up and can foreigners fill the labour deficit?

The Local brings you a regular roundup of the latest jobs news and talking points related to working life in Denmark. This week we’re looking at topics including high employment nationally but a big name closing factories.

Jobs news in Denmark: Sick pay claims up and can foreigners fill the labour deficit?
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

New record number of people in jobs  

New records for high employment and low unemployment seem to be set on a regular basis at the current time, and this week is no different.

For the seventh month in a row, the number of people in employment on the Danish labour market increased in July, according to figures from national agency Statistics Denmark.

The total number of wage earners increased by 7,000 giving a record-high total of 2.85 million people in work.

Additionally, numbers from the end of July show that 51,000 more people were in jobs compared to just before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The flip side of this, though is the increasing difficulty in filling vacancies, an issue numerous businesses and sectors have recently spoken up on.

We’ve looked at whether international workers could resolve this challenge for Danish companies – and the extent to which Denmark wants to bring in labour from abroad.

READ ALSO: Are international workers the answer to Denmark’s labour shortage? 

Wind turbine giant Vestas to close three factories

Wind turbine maker Vestas announced on Monday the closure of three of its sites in Europe, including one at Esbjerg in West Jutland.

The company is to stop its production at the Esbjerg facility, where 75 people are employed, as well as t two other of the company’s factories – in Lauchhammer, Germany and Viveiro, Spain. Those factories employ 460 and 115 people respectively.

Labour court sharpens tone towards striking nurses 

The drawn out dispute between nurses, their union DSR and the government is still showing little sign of being settles after the Arbejdsretten labour strengthened its demands that the nurses return to work.

On Thursday, the court again ordered nurses to return to work and underlined that strikes undertaken in the form of brief walkouts in recent weeks are not legal.

Under Denmark’s labour model, strikes are only legal if they have been signalled by unions as in connection with negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.

Recent weeks have seen nurses leave their posts at work for an hour at several hospitals. The nurses are standing against government-enforced pay and working conditions after rejecting a deal negotiated by their union with authorities earlier in the summer.

Union-sanctioned strikes by thousands of nurses took place throughout the summer, prior to the government intervention, but nurses are now being fined for the unsanctioned walk-out.

EXPLAINED: Why has the government intervened in Denmark’s nurses strike?

Sick pay claims increased during recent stages of coronavirus pandemic

More people in Denmark received sick pay in recent months as a result of an easing of rules due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Statistics Denmark.

Spending on sick pay partially countered savings made by the state on unemployment benefits, with the number of unemployment benefit claimants steadily dropping.

During the second quarter of 2021, 86,700 people in Denmark received sick pay, a figure 19,100 – or 28 percent – higher than in the corresponding quarter last year.

The quarter prior to the coronavirus crisis – Q1 in 2020 – saw around 68,000 people receive statutory sick pay.

Did you know?

Self-employed and employed people alike can adjust their tax returns by logging in to the website and entering the deductions on their forskudsopgørelse (preliminary tax return, prior to March) or årsopgørelse (annual return, calculated and displayed on the SKAT website at the beginning of March). The deadline for the latter falls in May each year.

Here’s our four ways to (legally) lower your tax bill in Denmark

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For members


What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

It's not fun to lose your job, but Danish laws and collective agreements give you a number of rights and there are steps you can take to help insure yourself against the possibility of being out of work.

What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage and low unemployment. Many companies and sectors are calling for additional foreign labour to meet their recruitment needs, something the government appears to be willing to take steps to accommodate.

Of course, none of these things mean individual companies might not be experiencing headwinds or that the situation can change. There are various kinds of business needs that could be the catalyst for a restructuring, such as financial hardships or pending mergers. This can also mean that some employees will lose their jobs.

If you do lose your job in Denmark, you are covered by certain aspects of the law. It is also a good idea to think about taking the necessary measures — such as A-kasse membership — that can protect your from some of the financial implications of unemployment.

Notice periods 

If you are covered by the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven), then you are entitled to certain notice periods before any significant change happens to the terms of your employment.

You can see in your contract whether you are a salaried employee (funktionær), but generally, the term applies to staff who have been employed for over 1 month and work more than 8 hours weekly, on average.

Sectors in which staff are considered funktionærer include business and administration, purchasing, selling, technical and cleaning services; and management and supervision. In short, people who work in offices, sales or purchasing or certain types of warehouse jobs are likely to be covered.

Areas which may not be covered include factory work or craftsmanship, nor are people hired through temp agencies (vikarbureauer) covered by the act.

The notice periods provided by the Salaried Employees Act cover things like notification of termination of employment or significant changes to your job duties. 

The amount of notice that you are entitled to is determined by how much seniority you have, as follows:

0-6 months of employment

1 month’s notice

6 months to 3 years

3 months

3 years to 6 years

4 months

6 months to 3 years

3 months

6 years to 9 years

5 months

More than 9 years

6 months

When you have worked at the company for 12 or more years, you are also entitled to additional compensation (Danish: fratrædelsesgodtgørelse) if you are let go from your job, per the Danish Salaried Employees Act.  

The compensation is 1 month’s salary after 12 years’ employment and 3 months’ salary after 17 years of employment.

It is possible that your company will also provide other additional payments due to restructuring activities. This varies from company to company and is not part of the Danish Salaried Employees Act. 

Should I join an A-kasse?

Membership of an unemployment insurance service provider, an A-kasse (arbejdsløshedskasse) is the first step to keeping your income steady while you begin the process of finding new employment. Finding a new job is a task the A-kasse itself can assist you with.

It can be difficult to figure out which A-kasse to join and while some are cheaper than others, it’s not just about paying an insurance premium. In the event that you become unemployed, it’s good to have an A-kasse that is an appropriate fit for your background, so that they can better help you with your plan to get back into the workforce.

A-kasser are private associations which have been authorised by the Danish state to administer unemployment benefits. The state regulates the requirements for receiving benefits while the A-kasse administers the benefits.

If you are interested in A-kasse membership, you must apply to the A-kasse of your choice, either as a full-time or part-time insured member. A-kasse members pay a tax-deductible monthly fee, which gives them the right to receive unemployment benefits (dagpenge) should they become unemployed.

There are a lot of rules that you’ll have to familiarise yourself with, including when you will be allowed to apply for benefits and how long you can receive them for. Members must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits, which include being a member of an A-kasse for at least 12 months.

According to Denmark’s digital self-service website, one must also have earned at least 246,924 kroner (2022) in the past three years for full-time insured and 164,616 kroner (2022) for part-time insured. You also have to have worked for a certain period of time within the last three years, which varies depending on whether you were insured as full-time or part-time.

READ ALSO: A-kasse: Everything foreigners in Denmark need to know about unemployment insurance

What else should I keep in mind?

In general, the Danish labour market system is not primarily based on laws, as you may be used to from other countries, but on agreements and negotiations, primarily collective bargaining agreements or overenskomster between trade unions and employer associations. You may have heard of the concept ‘the Danish model’ (den danske model) referred to in this regard.

A large proportion of people who work in Denmark are therefore trade union members.

Collective bargaining agreements cover many aspects of Denmark’s labour market, from wages to paid parental leave. 

A lesser-known fact about the Danish labour model is that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements won’t have to negotiate general employment terms – regardless of whether they are trade union members.

There are large central agreements in both the public and private sectors. Therefore, employees whose contracts are regulated by a central bargaining agreement won’t individually have to negotiate general terms of employment, like working hours or a minimum salary. 

The particular collective agreement upon which your contract is based may be mentioned in your contract, and if it isn’t, you can ask your employer. 

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?