Parental leave in Denmark: Government wants ‘most choice possible’ for families

Denmark’s government says it is opposed in principle to controlling parental leave through legislation, but praised a recent proposal to tag set amounts of leave to each parent.

Parental leave in Denmark: Government wants 'most choice possible' for families
Labour and employment organisations in Denmark have proposed an updated model for parental leave, which complies with an EU directive on the area. Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard said on Friday that, despite the government’s reluctance to legislate on the area, an EU directive requirement means it will seek to agree a deal giving as much choice as possible for families.

Hummelgaard’s comments came following initial talks between parliamentary parties over reforms to Denmark’s parental leave system.

READ ALSO: Parental leave: How new agreement could change rules in Denmark

“In the government we are of the opinion that we must try to make the best of things and do this in a way that provides as much flexibility as possible for individual families,” Hummelgaard said in comments reported by news wire Ritzau.

The minister also took a swipe at the European Union, saying the government did not want “something pulled down over its head on the part of the EU”.

A preferable arrangement would be for labour organisations – trade unions and employer representatives – to negotiate parental leave terms, Hummelgaard said.

“But we are now faced with implementing this, so our goal is to make the best of it and ensure it brings as much equality with it as possible,” he said.

The EU directive in question requires mothers and fathers to each have at least nine weeks of so-called “earmarked” parental leave, meaning the two parents cannot transfer the leave from one to another.

An agreement announced last week between the Danish Trade Union Confederation (Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation, FH) and Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA) would set parental leave in Denmark at 11 weeks for both the mother and father or second parent.

Under the proposal formed by that agreement, the mother has a right to four weeks’ pregnancy leave prior to giving birth and both parents can take two weeks’ leave immediately after the birth.

That leaves a remaining earmarked 9 weeks, which can be taken at any time but are tagged to each parent, as are the initial 2 post-birth weeks. If one parent does not use all of their 11 weeks, those weeks lapse.

The proposal complies with the EU’s parental leave directive.

Hummelgaard expressed his backing for the agreement.

“We think the labour market organisations have put forward a very balanced and thorough proposal, which both falls in with what the directive demands and makes it as easy as possible for parents to arrange parental leave the way they want,” he said.

The proposal has elicited a divided response since its announcement last week, with backers saying they promote equality and critics saying they interfere with childcare decisions in the private sphere.

Conservative parties are largely opposed to earmarking leave for each parent, meaning that parties on the left will likely be required to vote through any bill to implement it.

Member comments

  1. Families are supported by an au pair
    as they can continue with their work without any problem. It is an opportunity to have a right hand with our children

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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.