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EXPLAINED: What are the rules for taking sick leave in Denmark?

The Local Denmark
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EXPLAINED: What are the rules for taking sick leave in Denmark?
What are your options if you need to take time off sick in Denmark? Photo: Rex Pickar, Unsplash

If you are unwell and unable to work, Danish employment law allows you to take sick leave if you are in employment, self-employed or receiving unemployment benefits.


People who work in Denmark are entitled to take sick leave and it’s important to take care of yourself when you become ill. 

In Denmark, mental health conditions such as depression or stress are treated on equal footing with injuries and physical illnesses. 

To get sick pay in Denmark, you must live and pay tax in the country (a few exceptions apply under special circumstances).

Your employer and/or the relevant local municipality are responsible for sick pay. A number of conditions apply such as the length of time you have been sick and how long you worked for the employer before illness.

Who is entitled to sick leave?


If you do not receive a full wage from your employer when you are ill, your employer in most cases must pay sickness benefit to you for the first 30 days.

This requires that you have been employed continuously for the past eight weeks prior to your absence. During that time, you must have worked for at least 74 hours.

You also have the right to sickness benefit from your employer if within the last 8 weeks you have been employed on several different occasions and you have worked for at least 74 hours for your employer. You also have to be in employment on the day on which you become ill.

After the 30 days, you can get sickness benefits from the municipality. In order to qualify you must fulfil one of the following employment criteria:


  • You must have worked for 240 hours within the last six months prior to your first day of sick leave. For at least five of these months, you must have worked at least 40 hours in total that month.
  • Had you not been sick, you would have qualified for unemployment beneft (dagpenge).
  • You have completed a vocational education programme (erhvervsmæssig uddannelse) lasting 18 months or longer within the last month.
  • You are a trainee on a paid work experience scheme.
  • You are employed in a flexjob.


If you are self-employed, you may have the right to sickness benefit from the municipality after the first two weeks of illness, unless you have taken out voluntary insurance which entitles you to sickness allowance from the first or third day of sickness absence.

To receive sickness benefit from the municipality, it is a requirement that:

  • You have undertaken self-employed activity to a substantial extent for at least 6 months in the last 12 months, including the last month prior to the absence.
  • You have been working in your own business for at least 18.5 hours.

If you have had your business for less than six months, your previously work as a salary-earner will be included in the six-month.

Self-employed people must report their sick leave via NemRefusion. To be able to report illness as a self-employed person, you must be registered as a user of NemRefusion and have an employee signature.

You can also take out a sickness insurance with Udbetaling Danmark.



You can receive sick pay if you are unemployed and currently receiving unemployment insurance (dagpenge).

This requires membership of an insurance provider known as an A-kasse, which provides sick pay if you are unemployed at the time you become sick .

If you move from dagpenge to sick leave, you are affected by different requirements. For example, you will not be obliged to send a set number of job applications per week – one of the criteria for dagpenge.

You can also receive sick pay if you're unemployed and have completed vocational study, which lasted at least 18 months, within the last month before the absence.

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

How much do you get in sickness benefits?

Employed, self-employed and unemployed:

The municipality calculates your sickness benefits based upon your weekly working hours and the average hourly income within the last three months prior to your sickness.

The maximum sickness benefit is 4.695 kroner per week and a maximum of 126,89 kroner per hour (2024).

Unemployed people receive the same amount in sickness benefit as you would have received in unemployment benefit with the same maximum amounts as above.

How long can I take off sick?

Employed, self-employed, unemployed:

You are allowed an initial 22 weeks off sick within a 9-month period. Before these 22 weeks are up, your municipality will assess whether your sick leave period can be extended.

An extension can be granted for a number of reasons, including a plan to return to work once you are fit again; a plan to ease back in through a period of part-time work or training known as virksomhedspraktik; diagnosis of serious illness, or pending outcomes of other types of assessments.

What steps do I need to take?


On your first day of illness, you should let your manager know that you are taking the day off and log it according to company procedures. This informs your employer (especially the payroll department) that you have taken a sick day.

You must inform your employer that you are sick within two hours of the time you would normally have started working, unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as being unable to call due to a hospitalisation) which prevented you from getting in touch.

This is important for a couple of reasons. If you are going to be out of work for a significant period, your company will be eligible for partial reimbursement by your municipality. It’s also important that there is a clear first day of illness logged, in case it turns out to be a long-term illness. 


If you do not call in sick on time, you only have the right to sick pay from the time at which you informed your employer.

Your employer is required to inform the municipality of your sickness within the first five weeks of your first sick day. Once the municipality has registered your sickness, it initiates processes including payment of sick pay and measures aimed at helping you get back to work.

If or when the municipality is responsible for paying you during sick leave, you will receive a form via the secure digital mail system e-boks (also accessible via and Digital Post), which you must fill in and return by the given deadline, usually 8 days after it is sent by the municipality. You should contact the municipality if you do not receive the form.

If your employer is paying your sick leave, they can apply to the municipality to refund them using the municipal sick pay you would otherwise have received. In this case, you will receive a statement containing the information your employer has passed on to the municipality. You should check to make sure the details are correct.


You must register your sickness on the NemRefusion portal.

If you have unemployment insurance, you must report your sickness absence no later than one week after your first or third sick day.

If you are not insured, you must report your sickness absence no later than three weeks after your first sick day.


Sick pay for self-employed people is paid out by your municipality. You will receive a form via  e-boks (also accessible via and Digital Post). You must inform the municipality how long you expect to be out of work for and if the sickness is expected to affect your ability to work later.


You must register your sickness with your A-kasse on the first day you are ill. You can do this on the platform.

Your A-kasse will pay your sick pay for the first 14 days of illness, before informing your municipality who will then contact you through e-boks. You must inform the municipality how long you expect to be out of work for and if the sickness is expected to affect your ability to work later.


What about extended absences?


If you end up taking a long period of sick leave, then your employer will contact you about conducting a sickness absence interview. This is a mandatory interview that has to be completed within four weeks from the first day of the illness. The employee is obligated to attend, which can be in person or by phone, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the illness.

The purpose of this interview is to talk to you about making a plan to come back to work. If you think that you will be on sick leave for more than eight weeks, then the employer is entitled to ask you for a return-to-work plan. The terms of your return can be discussed and agreed upon, according to what makes sense in your situation. You could, for example, ask to return on a part-time basis at first and gradually work back up to full-time.  

You don’t have to divulge the nature of your illness, but your company has the right to ask you for a ‘Fit for Work’ certificate or mulighedserkæring. This applies to both short-term and long-term illnesses.

You and your employer fill out one part, and your doctor fills out another. The aim is to evaluate how the illness has impacted your ability to perform your job duties.

Self-employed and unemployed:

Your municipality will continually follow up with you during your sick leave and conduct a sickness absence interview within eight weeks from the first day of the illness. The municipality is also entitled to request a doctor’s declaration of your condition.

You can request a ‘fast-track’ process with your municipality if you expect your absence to last longer than eight weeks. 

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



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