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Can self-employed people in Denmark get paid leave for looking after a sick child?

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Can self-employed people in Denmark get paid leave for looking after a sick child?
Denmark's statutory cover for leaving work to take care of an acutely ill child does not apply if you are self-employed. Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

People who work for companies in Denmark have the right to absence from work if their child is acutely ill or injured, but how do the rules apply if you are self-employed?

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Acute or sudden illness in a child gives one parent the right to take at least one day of paid leave from their place of work, provided that the child needs them to take care of them. The rule is often referred to in Danish as barnets første sygedag, ‘the child’s first sick day’.

That also applies in cases of injury – for example if the child falls and hurts themselves at school or kindergarten and needs to be taken to hospital.

Danish employment law lays out specific definitions of what constitutes acute illness or injury, but parents’ leave from work taken under such circumstances usually has a duration of one day.

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

Additional leave taken by the parent to look after a sick child after the first day is less likely to be guaranteed by laws on this area, given the child’s affliction is no longer considered acute, but collective bargaining agreements – working terms agreed between trade unions and employers’ groups – generally include rules relating to leave taken to care for an acutely sick child.

More on the rules for employed people can be found in our earlier article, but these do not apply if you are self-employed.

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What if you are self employed?

The short answer is, unfortunately, you are not covered if you take time off work on the first day of your child’s illness. As such, it might be a good idea to keep some funds in your budget aside as a buffer.

Self-employed people can choose to take out an insurance policy that provides them with sick leave from either day 1 or day 3 of their own sickness-related absence from work.

This provides additional cover to the regular sick pay which self-employed people are entitled to under Danish laws. This doesn’t kick in until after two weeks of absence.

Unfortunately, the insurance does not cover staying at home to look after a sick child, and neither does the statutory sick pay for self-employed people (not least because you don’t become eligible for it until 14 days have passed.

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

You are not entirely without options for insuring yourself against a child’s sickness or injury if you are self-employed. Many insurance companies in Denmark offer policies that provide payouts if a child, for example, suffers a longer term injury as a result of an accident at school or childcare (which you will hopefully never have to use). Here is an example of one such company, but it’s a good idea to ask your provider or shop around.

While this does not give you financial security for a single day of absence if your child is sent home sick, it does provide insurance for rarer, but more long-term health problems which could cause you (as a self-employed person) to take time off work.

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