Denmark wants to ban employers from asking age of applicants and squeeze rules on jobseekers

A new agreement has been announced between Denmark’s government, labour organisations and local authorities, aiming to ease the lack of labour currently prevalent in the country.

A job interview handshake. New Danish rules could prevent employers from asking the age of potential new staff.
New Danish rules could prevent employers from asking the age of potential new staff. Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

The agreement, which focuses on several areas of the labour market, aims to prevent older people from being overlooked for jobs due to their age.

Under proposed new rules, which would have to be passed by parliament, employers would be prevented from asking potential hires how old they are.

Additionally, the deal includes funding for courses for new graduates, designed to help them enter the jobs market soon after completing their studies.

READ ALSO: What does Denmark’s new labour proposal say about foreign workers?

Unemployment insurance providers (A-kasser) and job centres will be required to disseminate latest information on vacancies and to match companies with suitable job candidates.

“The aim is that no jobseeker leaves a (job centre) interview without being informed of where there are job vacancies – which they will be expected to apply for,” the agreement states.

A fund from which money for communication relating to jobs can be applied for will also be established. The fund will be allocated 15 million kroner per year in 2022 and 2023.

New rules will also tighten demands on people who receive unemployment insurance via their A-kasse if they fail to comply with the minimum number of job applications which must be sent weekly.

Available jobseekers who have not applied for a job within a month will be summoned to a job centre appointment as well as sanctioned.

The latter proposal was not supported by the umbrella organisation for trade unions, Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation (FH), which nevertheless decided to support the overall package.

“We know unemployed people really want to work and we think rules are already strict today,” FH chairperson Lizette Risgaard said in a press statement.

The agreement also pledges to assist companies to employ workers from other parts of Europe.

But it was criticised for not going far enough to resolve Denmark’s labour shortage by employers’ organisation Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA), which also said it had some positive elements.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard called the deal “clever and balanced”, adding it would help resolve the labour shortage and bring more people into the workforce.

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

Member comments

  1. I am afraid that this will not resolve much as it is easy to figure out how old someone is by looking at the years that people finished their education or by seniority in the last job(s). What needs to stop is the stigma people have about over 50’s being too old for anything. Since when is experience bad? what on earth does ‘overqualified’ means?

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Feriepenge: Denmark’s vacation pay rules explained

If you work for a company in Denmark, your yearly time off is likely to be provided for by the 'feriepenge' accrual system for paid annual leave.

If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar.
If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar. Photo by Felipe Correia on Unsplash

One of the perks of being a full-time employee in the country, Danish holiday usually adds up to five weeks of vacation annually. There are also nine days of public holidays, which everyone benefits from.

The Danish Holiday Act (Ferieloven) provides the basis for paid holiday through accrued feriepenge (‘vacation money’ or ‘vacation allowance’). This covers most salaried employees, although some people, such as independent consultants or freelancers, are not encompassed.

What is feriepenge?

‘Holiday money’ or feriepenge is a monthly contribution paid out of your salary into a special fund, depending on how much you earn.

You can claim back the money once per year, provided you actually take holiday from work. It is earned at the rate of 2.08 vacation days per month.

If you are employed in Denmark, you will be notified when the money can be paid out (this is in May under normal circumstances) and directed to the website, from where you claim it back from national administrator Udbetaling Danmark.

Anyone who is an employee of a company registered in Denmark and who pays Danish taxes is likely to receive holiday pay, as this means you will be covered by the Danish Holiday Act (ferieloven). You are not an employee if, for example, you are self-employed, are a board member on the company for which you work or are unemployed.

How do I save up time off using feriepenge?

The law, which covers the five standard weeks or (normally 25 days) of paid vacation, states that you are entitled to take vacation during the vacation year period. You earn paid vacation throughout a calendar year at the rate of 2.08 days per month.

You earn vacation time in the period September 1st-August 31st. You can then use your vacation in the same year that you earn it and up to December 31st the subsequent year – in other words, over a 16-month period.

These rules also mean that holiday earned during a given month can be used from the very next month, in what is referred to as concurrent holiday (samtidighedsferie).

So when can I take time off using this accrued vacation?

The Danish vacation year is further broken down so that there is a “main holiday period” which starts on May 1st and ends on September 30th. During this time, you are entitled to take three weeks’ consecutive vacation out of your five weeks.

A lot of people take three weeks in a row while others break it up – which is why you often hear Danish people who work full time wishing each other a “good summer holiday” as if it’s the end of the school term.

Outside of the main holiday period, the remaining 10 days of vacation can be taken whenever you like. You can take up to five days together but may also use the days individually.

If your employer wants to decide when you should take any of your vacation days, they have to let you know at least three months in advance for main holiday, or one month in advance for remaining holiday (barring exceptional circumstances, such as an unforeseen change to the company’s operations or if the company closes for the summer shortly after you begin employment).

If you have not earned paid vacation, you still have the right to take unpaid holiday.

Public Holidays

In addition to the vacation days, there are also public holidays. These are bunched up mostly in the early part of the year and around Christmas. However, the period between June and Christmas includes the above-mentioned main annual leave, so there’s not usually long to wait until you can take time off.

Denmark has public holidays on:’

  • New Year’s Day  
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday  
  • Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag)
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Monday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

In addition to the usual public holidays, companies can choose to give extra time off, for example on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. There are also differences regarding Labour Day and Constitution Day, depending on where you work, what kind of work you do, or the collective bargaining agreement under which you are employed.

Sometimes you can get a whole day off for these extra holidays, sometimes just a half day. Check with your employer for details.