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WORKING IN DENMARK

‘Omsorgsdage’: What you need to know about Denmark’s childcare leave days

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 or children. No specific reason needs to be given for the leave.

Public sector workers in Denmark -- and some in the private sector -- are entitled to two paid days off work per year to spend time with children.
Public sector workers in Denmark -- and some in the private sector -- are entitled to two paid days off work per year to spend time with children. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Omsorgsdage’, which translates roughly in English as ‘care days’, are days which you are entitled to take paid leave from work to be with a child. They are not the same as statutory annual leave for holiday or vacation.

All mothers and fathers who work in the public sector in Denmark are entitled to take the childcare leave days up to and including the year of their child’s seventh birthday. Two days off are allowed per child per calendar year.

People who work on the private sector will be covered by the contract they have with their employer, or the collective bargaining agreement between their trade union and the organisation to which their employer belongs. They must therefore check their contract or agreement to see whether omsorgsdage are provided.

Public sector

In the public sector, there is no deadline by which you must inform you employer that you intend to take time off with your child. But you should inform them that you intend to use the care days with as much notice as possible.

Your employer is not allowed to demand you provide a reason for taking the days. They are obliged to agree to your request unless it is incompatible with the work you do.

The omsorgsdage can be taken as full or half days off, or even by the hour if your employer agrees to this.

Public sector staff cannot carry over unused omsorgsdage to subsequent years – in other words, they lapse at the end of the calendar year. There are some exceptions to this – days from the year the child is born can be carried forwards, as can days which were not used due to other forms of leave such as parental leave.

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

People who work part time in the public sector also have the right to take the days off. In such cases, they are reduced in proportion with the number of hours you work.

Private sector

As noted above, people who work on the private sector may also be able to take omsorgsdage if this is stipulated by the contract they have with their employer, or the collective bargaining agreement between their trade union and the organisation to which their employer belongs.

Some collective bargaining agreements give parents the right to take the care leave of absence in a similar fashion to people hired in the public sector.

It should be noted that the omsorgsdage can (but do not have) to be used to care for a child who is sick, but are not the same as the statutory ‘first day off’ which parents have the right to take (either paid or unpaid) if their child is taken ill acutely.

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

The days can also be used to be with a child while they are getting used to going to kindergarten, and only attending part time (often referred to in Danish as the indkøring period), or when they are starting school. They can also be taken simply to spend some quality time together.

If you are member of a trade union, your union will be able to tell you whether the collective bargaining agreements it has signed give you the right to take paid omsorgsdage.

In addition to leave from work for omsorgsdage (as described in this article) and when children are acutely ill, there are also rules in Denmark relating to long-term care for sick children. These will be addressed in a separate article.

Sources: Borger.dk, 3F

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For members

WORKING IN DENMARK

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.

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