Working in Denmark For Members

Can you take sick leave in Denmark if your child is ill?

The Local Denmark
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Can you take sick leave in Denmark if your child is ill?
Parents who work in Denmark have the right to take a leave of absence from work on the first day of a child's illness. Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

People who are employed in Denmark have the right to absence from work if their child is acutely ill or injured.


Acute or sudden illness in a child gives one parent the right to take leave from work provided that the child needs them to take care of them.

That also applies in cases of injury – for example if the child falls and hurts themselves at school or kindergarten and needs to be taken to hospital.

Danish employment law lays out specific definitions of what constitutes acute illness or injury, but parents’ leave from work taken under such circumstances usually has a duration of one day – it is often referred to in Danish as barnets første sygedag, ‘the child’s first sick day’.

Additional leave taken by the parent to look after a sick child after the first day is less likely to be guaranteed by laws on this area, given the child’s affliction is no longer considered acute.

Most collective bargaining agreements – working terms agreed between trade unions and employers’ groups – include rules relating to leave taken to care for an acutely sick child.

Usually, people covered under these agreements can take absence for child sickness of the child is under 18 years old, lives with the parent, the parent needs to be home if the child is there and if the type of work they do allows the sudden absence.


Employees must inform their employers of any absence as soon as possible.

Do I get paid leave if my child is sick?

Possibly. This will be set out in your employment contract or rules set out by your place of work. You may, as detailed above, be covered by a collective bargaining agreement that gives you the right to paid leave if your child is acutely sick.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Should I sign up with a Danish union and get unemployment insurance?

Some collective bargaining agreements may allow both parents to take a ‘first day’ of paid leave during the child’s illness but not on the same day, effectively allowing a parent to be at home with the child on the first and second day of sickness. In some cases one parent may also be able to take two days leave or more.

If you do not have the right to paid leave to care for your child on her or his first day of sickness, your employer can subtract the time off from your salary.

It is necessary to speak to your employer or trade union if you want to know your rights and the exact rules that apply for your individual circumstances.

In addition to leave from work when children are acutely ill, people who work for an employer in Denmark are also entitled to omsorgsdage or ‘care days’ of leave from work to be with a child (who is not necessarily ill). There are also rules relating to long-term care for sick children. We will describe these situations in separate articles.



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