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WORKING IN DENMARK

What are Denmark’s rules for taking extended leave due to child sickness?

It’s a situation we hope you never experience, but Denmark has rules in place for people who take periods of absence from work to look after children with long-term illness.

a mother checking her child's temperature
You may be able to apply in Denmark to cover absence from work to take care of a sick child for an extended period. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If your child is seriously ill and you have to take time off work to care for him or her, you may be entitled to payments to cover lost wages.

Whether you qualify for the welfare support depends on whether the child needs to be hospitalised or cared for at home in a way that can be given equivalence with hospital treatment. More detail on this follows below.

If you are currently looking for work and receiving unemployment insurance (dagpenge in Danish) through membership of an A-kasse, the same rules can apply to you if you have to stop receiving this insurance to look after the child (for example, if you can no longer attend job centre meetings or regularly apply for jobs as required by the dagpenge system).

A short side point on terminology: The Danish term dagpenge is not just used in relation to the unemployment security that you get through A-kasse membership. It is also used in a number of different contexts related to the social welfare system. For example, barselsdagpenge means the money you receive (from the state) while on parental leave. Payments you can receive while looking after a sick child can also be called dagpenge even though they are not the same as A-kasse payouts.

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

People who are employed (rather than self-employed) can find out from their employer whether they have the right to take leave from work to take care of a child for an extended period.

If you are member of a trade union, the collective bargaining agreement (overenskomst in Danish) between your union and you employer will set out the rules that apply in your situation.

Non-union members can only take leave through agreements with their employer, rather than through rules defined in a collective bargaining agreement. As such, you do not have a legal right to take leave from work but can do so via an agreement with your workplace.

If you are currently looking for work and receiving payments through your A-kasse, you should contact the A-kasse.

If you do have the right to take leave to care for your child, a number of criteria will normally have to be fulfilled. Your child must be under 18 years old; the doctor treating them must confirm they expect their illness to last longer than 12 days (less for single parents) and require treatment at a hospital or other facility or equivalent treatment at home.

In order to receive compensation for time of work, you must be off work or work reduced hours as a result of the child’s illness and fulfil the general requirements which would qualify you for parental leave.

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

Note that these rules for long-term child illness 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.

There are also separate rules for loss of income for parents who work less on a more permanent basis, to take care of a child with a disability or a chronic disease. We will write about this in a later article.

How do I apply for payments when off work for over 12 days to look after a sick child?

Before you submit documentation, your employer (or A-kasse) must register your absence via the Virk.dk website. If you are self-employed, you can also register absence on Virk.dk.

It is important to submit documentation and applications as quickly as possible. You can only receive money from the day your absence is registered – in other words, it is not backdated.

Once your employer has registered your absence, you have eight weeks to submit the relevant information and documents. You will receive a notification via your secure digital mail E-boks, which provides you with a link to submit your application.

The doctors who are treating you child (not your GP) will be required to complete documentation detailing the child’s illness and expected treatment time, and where the treatment will take place. They will also describe the child’s care needs and what parents will need to do. It is your responsibility to make sure the documentation is submitted. You can also see the doctors’ form here and submit documents via this link, but remember that your employer must register your absence first.

How much will I be paid?

You can receive a maximum of 4,465 kroner per week (in 2022) pre-tax, and for a maximum of 52 weeks within an 18-month period.

If your trade union ensures a full salary during your absence, your employer can be refunded part of your wages while you are away. They must apply within eight weeks of your return to work.

If you have further questions or are unsure how the rules apply to your specific situation, you can call Udbetaling Danmark, the agency responsible for administration and payment of social welfare support. The relevant contact information can be found here.

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

Source: Borger.dk

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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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