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

Employment and equality minister Peter Hummelgaard pictured before the reopening of Denmark's parliament on Tuesday. a new labour agreement between the government and labour representatives sets out investment in foreign recruitment.
Employment and equality minister Peter Hummelgaard pictured before the reopening of Denmark's parliament on Tuesday. a new labour agreement between the government and labour representatives sets out investment in foreign recruitment. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
Proposed new rules affecting employment were announced on Wednesday following an agreement between the government and labour organisations.

A new agreement between Denmark’s employment ministry, trade unions, employer organisations and local authorities aims to ease the lack of labour currently prevalent in the country.

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 and also suggests higher demands on new graduates and people receiving unemployment insurance (dagpenge).

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

The proposed new rules would have to be passed by parliament.

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

In a section entitled “help for companies to recruit European labour”, the agreement sets out five areas for investment or focus to this end.

The deal provides for what it calls a “strengthened effort to recruit skilled European labour via Workindenmark”, partly through partnerships with employer and sector organisations.

Workindenmark.dk is a publicly funded platform aimed at qualified international candidates looking for a job in Denmark, and Danish companies searching for skilled foreign workers.

It will be provided with five million kroner in 2022 and 2023 under the agreement.

An additional two million kroner will be spent in each of the next two years attempting to retain more international graduates from Danish education programmes, in particular for sectors with labour shortages.

Additionally, foreign Master’s degree students and graduates with job offers will be allowed to start work while awaiting processing of residency permits by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), in an easing of current work permit rules.

This measure is aimed at encouraging graduate students to apply for jobs in Denmark related to their field. How it will work in practice will be set out once a bill based on the deal is tabled, according to the agreement, the agreement text states.

Investment will also be targeted at workers who live in southern Sweden and the Øresund region with the stated aim of “recruiting Swedes for jobs in the Greater Copenhagen region where there is a labour shortage”. That will be done through partnership between Danish and Swedish employment authorities along with Workindenmark.

Finally, a total of 12 million kroner will be spent on reducing processing times for work permits at SIRI, partly by hiring more caseworkers.

This decision is seen as an “extraordinary measure connected to the Covid-19 situation”.

READ ALSO: Applying for residency in Denmark: Why you might need health insurance during processing period

Employers’ organisation Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA) said the deal had some positive elements but also criticised it for not going far enough to resolve Denmark’s labour shortage.

“There’s broad agreement that the labour shortage is the biggest threat against the upturn we are having after corona,” DA’s CEO Jacob Holbraad said in a press statement.

“That’s why this limited agreement can in no way stand alone,” he said.

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.

“It’s a good first step,” he said in a ministry press statement.

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


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