Danish parliament passes new law for ‘earmarked’ parental leave

Denmark’s parliament on Thursday rubber-stamped a new law which reforms parental leave rules by guaranteeing each parent 11 weeks at home with their newborn child.

Two babies crawling
Denmark's new parental leave rules will take effect on August 2nd. Photo by Lingchor on Unsplash

The new law means that each parent gets 11 weeks of non-transferable parental leave after their child is born. One parent cannot transfer any of the ‘earmarked’ leave to the other, meaning if they do not use the full 11 weeks, they eventually lapse.

Although the new rules were agreed by parliamentary parties in the autumn, the final vote on the bill did not take place until Thursday. Its approval means the new rules come into force on August 2nd.

This also means Denmark meets the deadline for complying with an EU directive requiring member states earmark nine weeks of statutory parental leave for fathers.

Parents whose children are born on or after August 2nd will be covered by the new rules. For children born before that date, the old rules will apply.

“It is a very positive day for Denmark now that parental leave will be divided evenly between parents. That will benefit mums, dads and especially children,” employment minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a government statement.

New Danish rules meanwhile provide for more flexible arrangements for LGBT+ families. From January 1st 2024, families with same-sex parents will also be able to share parental leave. Single parents will be able to share leave with a close family member.

“Families come in many forms in the year 2022. That’s why I’m very pleased that we are improving the options of LGBT+ families and single parents for sharing parental leave. Laws should follow the times so everyone, regardless of family type, can make arrangements that suit their exact situation,” Hummelgaard said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s new parental leave rules explained

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Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Local authorities and a major business interest organisation have urged Denmark’s government to address a labour shortage.

Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Unmet demand for labour in both private businesses and the public sector has reached a crisis point, according to an appeal to the government to reach a broader labour agreement. 

Parliament must renew its efforts to find a new national compromise which will secure more labour, the National Association of Municipalities (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said according to financial media Finans.

“The parties [in parliament] must be honest with voters and start a completely different and strict prioritisation of what the public sector can offer people,” mayor and KL chairperson Martin Damm told news wire Ritzau.

“Otherwise, the parties must find the labour needed for private companies to provide growth and wellbeing, and for us at municipalities to have the staff and economy to deliver the services people expect,” he said.

The municipalities will need 44,000 additional employees by 2030 due to increasing numbers of children and elderly in the population, according to KL.

Short the lack of labour persist, municipal governments could be forced to reduce the priority of services such as cleaning for elderly residents, according to Damm.

Danish businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit staff and could hire 38,000 new workers immediately if they were available, according to DI, which represents the interests of about 19,000 Danish companies. 

Lars Sandahl Sørensen, managing director of DI, firmly believes the answer to the labour shortage lies outside Danish borders. 

“We will need many more foreigners,” Sørensen told Finans.

“It is not about getting cheap labour, but about getting people at all. We are in a situation where we do not have employees to carry out the things on green conversion that we have already decided to do, and that we would like to do on health and welfare,” he said.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard told Finans that the government agreed a deal on international recruitment shortly before the summer break.

READ MORE: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you aren’t an EU national?