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Parental leave in Denmark: What are the new rules and when do they take effect?

New rules on statutory parental leave take effect in Denmark from August 2022.
New rules on statutory parental leave take effect in Denmark from August 2022. Photo by Gigin Krishnan on Unsplash
Lawmakers in Denmark have agreed on reforms to the parental leave system to take effect from next year.

Parental leave rules in Denmark are to change in 2022 with parliament set to vote through changes that bring the country into line with EU directives.

After the EU in 2019 passed a directive which required member states to ensure a minimum of nine weeks’ “earmarked” parental leave for each parent by 2022, discussions between the government and labour market representatives have resulted in agreement over new rules.

The deal will come into effect in August 2022. It is supported by the majority of parties on the left and right of parliament, meaning it is all but assured of being passed into law.

“Earmarked” (øremærket in Danish) parental leave because the two parents cannot transfer the leave from one to another, allowing one parent to take all or nearly all of the statutory parental leave.

This is possible under the outgoing Danish system, where 32 weeks of parental leave (forældreorlov) can be distributed between parents as much or either sees fit and can be taken concurrently or consecutively.

Because the reform tags more of the statutory parental leave to each parent, fathers and other partners are effectively entitled to nine weeks’ more leave than under current rules.

Under the new rules, each parent is granted 24 weeks each of leave following the birth of a child, with a total of 11 weeks “earmarked” for each parent.

The mother has a right to four weeks’ pregnancy leave prior to giving birth and both parents can take two weeks’ parental leave immediately after the birth.

That leaves a remaining earmarked 9 weeks, which can be taken at any time withing the first year after birth 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 final 13 weeks of each parent’s leave can be transferred between parents. As such, these weeks can be split 13-13, 26-0 or anything in between. They can be taken at any time until the child’s ninth birthday.

Self-employed people, students and jobseekers are not encompassed by the rule requiring parental leave to be earmarked, and can transfer up to 22 weeks (the normal 13 weeks plus the 9 weeks which are “earmarked” for employed people) to the other parent.

The new rules also introduce equality between single fathers and single mothers with regard to the number of weeks of parental leave after the birth. In each case, the single parent receives 46 weeks of leave.

From January 1st 2024, single parents will also be allowed to transfer parental leave to a close family member.

LGBT+ families are permitted to divide their leave between up to four parents, also from January 1st 2024. In this case, the non-earmarked leave can be shared between legal guardians and social parents.

Social parents can include the spouse or cohabitant of a legal guardian; a known donor with a parental relationship to the child; and the spouse or cohabitant of a known donor with a parental relationship to the child.

Source: Beskæftigelsesministeriet

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