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


What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

It's not fun to lose your job, but Danish laws and collective agreements give you a number of rights and there are steps you can take to help insure yourself against the possibility of being out of work.

What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage and low unemployment. Many companies and sectors are calling for additional foreign labour to meet their recruitment needs, something the government appears to be willing to take steps to accommodate.

Of course, none of these things mean individual companies might not be experiencing headwinds or that the situation can change. There are various kinds of business needs that could be the catalyst for a restructuring, such as financial hardships or pending mergers. This can also mean that some employees will lose their jobs.

If you do lose your job in Denmark, you are covered by certain aspects of the law. It is also a good idea to think about taking the necessary measures — such as A-kasse membership — that can protect your from some of the financial implications of unemployment.

Notice periods 

If you are covered by the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven), then you are entitled to certain notice periods before any significant change happens to the terms of your employment.

You can see in your contract whether you are a salaried employee (funktionær), but generally, the term applies to staff who have been employed for over 1 month and work more than 8 hours weekly, on average.

Sectors in which staff are considered funktionærer include business and administration, purchasing, selling, technical and cleaning services; and management and supervision. In short, people who work in offices, sales or purchasing or certain types of warehouse jobs are likely to be covered.

Areas which may not be covered include factory work or craftsmanship, nor are people hired through temp agencies (vikarbureauer) covered by the act.

The notice periods provided by the Salaried Employees Act cover things like notification of termination of employment or significant changes to your job duties. 

The amount of notice that you are entitled to is determined by how much seniority you have, as follows:

0-6 months of employment

1 month’s notice

6 months to 3 years

3 months

3 years to 6 years

4 months

6 months to 3 years

3 months

6 years to 9 years

5 months

More than 9 years

6 months

When you have worked at the company for 12 or more years, you are also entitled to additional compensation (Danish: fratrædelsesgodtgørelse) if you are let go from your job, per the Danish Salaried Employees Act.  

The compensation is 1 month’s salary after 12 years’ employment and 3 months’ salary after 17 years of employment.

It is possible that your company will also provide other additional payments due to restructuring activities. This varies from company to company and is not part of the Danish Salaried Employees Act. 

Should I join an A-kasse?

Membership of an unemployment insurance service provider, an A-kasse (arbejdsløshedskasse) is the first step to keeping your income steady while you begin the process of finding new employment. Finding a new job is a task the A-kasse itself can assist you with.

It can be difficult to figure out which A-kasse to join and while some are cheaper than others, it’s not just about paying an insurance premium. In the event that you become unemployed, it’s good to have an A-kasse that is an appropriate fit for your background, so that they can better help you with your plan to get back into the workforce.

A-kasser are private associations which have been authorised by the Danish state to administer unemployment benefits. The state regulates the requirements for receiving benefits while the A-kasse administers the benefits.

If you are interested in A-kasse membership, you must apply to the A-kasse of your choice, either as a full-time or part-time insured member. A-kasse members pay a tax-deductible monthly fee, which gives them the right to receive unemployment benefits (dagpenge) should they become unemployed.

There are a lot of rules that you’ll have to familiarise yourself with, including when you will be allowed to apply for benefits and how long you can receive them for. Members must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits, which include being a member of an A-kasse for at least 12 months.

According to Denmark’s digital self-service website, one must also have earned at least 246,924 kroner (2022) in the past three years for full-time insured and 164,616 kroner (2022) for part-time insured. You also have to have worked for a certain period of time within the last three years, which varies depending on whether you were insured as full-time or part-time.

READ ALSO: A-kasse: Everything foreigners in Denmark need to know about unemployment insurance

What else should I keep in mind?

In general, the Danish labour market system is not primarily based on laws, as you may be used to from other countries, but on agreements and negotiations, primarily collective bargaining agreements or overenskomster between trade unions and employer associations. You may have heard of the concept ‘the Danish model’ (den danske model) referred to in this regard.

A large proportion of people who work in Denmark are therefore trade union members.

Collective bargaining agreements cover many aspects of Denmark’s labour market, from wages to paid parental leave. 

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.

There are large central agreements in both the public and private sectors. Therefore, employees whose contracts are regulated by a central 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, you can ask your employer. 

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?