Danish government says employers must pay wages on scrapped holiday

Should the government go through with plans to scrap a public holiday from 2024, employers will be expected to pay staff for the additional day of work, employment minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen said on Thursday.

Danish government says employers must pay wages on scrapped holiday
Employment minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen says employers will foot the bill for wages should an annual public holiday be abolished. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Employers will bear sole responsibility for paying extra wages due as a result of the government scrapping a public holiday, the minister said.

“It will be a working day like all other days of the year and those wages will naturally be paid by the employer,” she said.

The new left-right coalition announced in its policy platform that it intends to scrap one of Denmark’s public holidays – most likely the late spring Great Prayer Day – from 2024, saying it would spend additional state revenue on defence.

READ ALSO: How can Denmark earn money by abolishing a public holiday?

“The number of public holidays we have in our country is decided politically. We are politically seeking one fewer. That should obviously be paid for in wages,” Halsboe-Jørgensen said.

Although defence is previously cited as the beneficiary of the proposal, the minister said other areas could also benefit.

“If we, for example, want to invest money in psychiatry, climate or the military, we also need to put pressure on things that put money in the coffers. Working on a public holiday is in this regard one of the things that can contribute to everything we want to do,” she said.

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EXPLAINED: Why Danish businesses want to scrap bank account work permit rule

The Confederation of Danish Employers is pushing for an end to a rule that means the salaries of foreign employees must be paid into a Danish bank account.

EXPLAINED: Why Danish businesses want to scrap bank account work permit rule

What is the background to the banking rule? 

The rule was first introduced in 2017 by the Liberal (Venstre) Party minority government, but was then extended by the Social Democrats to cover practically all employees working in Denmark from outside the European Union. 

When the rule was proposed, the government said requiring all payments to be made to an account in a Danish bank would “strengthen the possibilities for Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) to check if an employee is in fact receiving the salary promised in their employment contract”. 

Under the rule, a bank account needs to be set up within 90 days of the residence permit being granted or the employee entering Denmark. 

Why is it a problem? 

It can take months for a new arrival in Denmark to get a Danish bank account, as they first need to get a residency permit, then a CPR number, a Danish address, access to the MitID digital identification service, and a health insurance card. 

As a result, business organisations have argued that bureaucracy means they can sometimes go for months without a salary.

“For employers, it is extremely stressful to have highly educated and highly qualified employees they would like to retain in their new position, but they cannot pay their wages,” Rikke Wolfsen, head of the Danish immigration practice at EY, told the Politiken newspaper. “As for the employees, companies have told us that some just say, ‘well, I can’t do that, this. There are other countries in the EU where I avoid all that hassle’.” 

According to a survey by the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), 84 percent of Danish companies said that international employees had problems getting a Danish bank account. 

Søren Kjærsgaard Høfler, a consultant at DI, argued in comments to Politiken that SIRI could check that the right salary was being paid through the Danish Tax Agency’s digital reporting system, eIndkomst, making the extra security of requiring Danish bank accounts unnecessary. 

In addition, he said he knew of no other country that had a similar requirement. 

Who wants to get rid of the bank rule? 

Denmark’s three major business organisations, DI, the Confederation of Danish Employers, and the Danish Chamber of Commerce are all calling on the new three-party coalition to remove the rule in reforms to work permits expected to be announced later this month. 

“We have set something up which is quite simply pointless,” Erik Simonsen, deputy director of the Confederation of Danish Employers told Politiken, calling on the government to “remove this sort of thing, which only serves to make life more difficult.” 

Høfler said that DI “supported the companies in saying that we do not see any sense in this rule”. 

The Liberal Party, one of the three parties in Denmark’s new ruling coalition, has given its support to scrapping, or at least reforming, the rule. 

“Of course, we must take the messages we receive from the business community seriously when it comes to the fact that they do not think this makes sense”, Christoffer Aagaard Melson, employment spokesman for the Liberals, told Politiken.