For members


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

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

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.
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

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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For members


EXPLAINED: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

You might have heard of the Danish word “overenskomst”, meaning collective bargaining agreement -- especially if you are a trade union member in the Nordic country. But what exactly is meant by the term?

EXPLAINED: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

Work life balance, high salaries, and ample vacation time are but a few benefits with which foreigners working in Denmark are familiar. 

And yet, many would be surprised to learn that these benefits aren’t protected by Danish law. Instead, they are the result of collective bargaining agreements between Denmark’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. 

“There aren’t many laws regulating the Danish labour market,” Mads Storgaard Pedersen, consultant and assistant attorney at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), told The Local.

Instead, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations every few years to develop collective bargaining agreements regulating (overenskomster in Danish) many aspects of Denmark’s labour market, from wages to paid parental leave. 

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners in Denmark need to know about Danish trade unions

Linguistically, to be overens means to be in agreement with or match something, while the –komst suffix is derived from the verb at komme – to come or to arrive.

An overenskomst, then, is the arrival at an agreement. It is used specifically in the context of negotiations between unions and employers’ organisations.

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates wages, for example stipulating that all employees with a certain job title must receive a salary within a certain pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

It’s when negotiations over these agreements break down that action like strikes and lockouts occur, at the direction of the trade unions or employers’ organisations. Strikes and lockouts are a legal part of the Danish model, provided they are under the auspices of the organisations and not “wildcat” or unsanctioned strikes.

READ ALSO: Can foreigners lose their Danish work permits if they take part in strikes?

A lesser-known fact about the Danish labour model is that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements won’t have to negotiate general employment terms – regardless of whether they are trade union members.

“Although two-thirds of Denmark’s workers are union members, 82 percent are covered by collective agreements,” Peter Waldorff, international consultant at FH, Denmark’s largest trade union confederation, told The Local.

“As long as a workplace has a collective agreement, it covers both members and non-members,” he explained.

There are large central agreements in both the public and private sectors. Employees whose contracts are regulated by a collective bargaining agreement won’t individually have to negotiate general terms of employment, like working hours or a minimum salary. 

The particular collective agreement upon which your contract is based may be mentioned in your contract, and if it isn’t, Waldorff said it’s perfectly fine to ask your employer. 

“There is not the same level of union busting in Denmark as there are in some other countries,” he said.