Could Denmark ease key work permit rule for foreigners?

Several political parties in Denmark have suggested they favour reducing a minimum salary requirement used to assess work permit applications.

Reports in Denmark suggest a parliamentary majority could favour a reduction of a key salary requirement used to grant work permits for non-EU nationals.
Reports in Denmark suggest a parliamentary majority could favour a reduction of a key salary requirement used to grant work permits for non-EU nationals. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Conservative parties and the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party favour a reduction to Denmark’s pay limit scheme or beløbsgrænse, which sets a minimum salary which businesses must pay skilled non-EU nationals in order for the employee to qualify for a Danish work permit.

The government is currently negotiating with parliament over potential solutions to labour shortages.

Although previous attempts to reduce the pay limit scheme failed to make it through parliament, there now appears to be a potential majority in support of it, news wire Ritzau reports.

In 2019, the Social Liberals said they wanted to cut the minimum salary required for non-EU skilled professionals to qualify for working and residency permits (beløbsgrænse) from 417,800 kroner to 325,000 kroner per year.

The governing Social Democrats have opposed the change, arguing that it would make it less attractive for companies to hire from the Danish or EU labout markets.

But Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen suggested in her New Year speech that the government could now be prepared to reconsider the matter in light of the national labour shortage.

READ ALSO: Could small Danish companies become more likely to hire foreign staff?

News wire Ritzau reported on Wednesday that, along with the Social Liberals, some conservative parties also favour a reform to the pay limit system, suggesting a majority is achievable.

Business organisations have also long called for the minimum salary to be reduced to enable more skilled labour to be attracted from abroad.

Such a move also makes sense from a Danish perspective, an expert told Ritzau.

“If you reduce the (pay) limit, it will be easier to bring foreign labour from outside the EU to Denmark. What must be ensured is that this is done on the same (working) conditions we have in Denmark,” Roskilde University professor of Social Scences Bent Greve told the news wire.

Greve noted that previous experience with hiring from abroad showed several examples of successful integration.

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Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

A Danish study has concluded that women are often paid less than men for doing the same job.

Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

The study, from Copenhagen Business School, analysed the salaries of 1.2 million people in Denmark aged 30-55 years.

On average, women earn 7 percent less despite having the same profession and same job as their male colleagues, researchers concluded.

CBS professor Lasse Folke Henriksen, one of the report’s co-authors, said the results suggests that the overall disparity between the wages of men and women in Denmark is not solely a result of the pay grades in the professions in which they work.

“The equality debate has for some time focused on wage hierarchy in female-dominated and male-dominated professions,” he said.

“But this suggests there is also a wage gap between men and women with the same job function,” he said.

The study does not specify reasons for the wage gap. Henriksen said further research will address this, but existing research offers potential explanations.

“Family relations mean a lot. Women who have children put more work into home care and so on. That could help to explain it,” he said.

Denmark is not the only country looked at by the study.

The study uses data registered from 2015 and finds an overall wage gap for all countries of 18 percent, with women therefore earning considerably less than men on average.

Along with France, Denmark has the smallest wage gap (7 percent) of all countries analysed. Nordic neighbours Norway and Sweden are close behind with 9 and 8 percent respectively.

The largest wage gap found by the study was 26 percent in Japan.

“So Denmark is well placed,” Henriksen said.

“We also have analyses from further in the past so we can see that the wage gap has shrunk over the years. That’s very positive, and that has also happened in other countries,” he said.