Information for newly arrived Ukrainians about the Danish labour market
In Denmark the labour market parties have a great influence on wages and working conditions. There is no statuary minimum wage. On this page you will find an introduction to the Danish labour market and the rules on health and safety at the workplace.
As a person displaced from Ukraine, you may start working in Denmark as soon as you have applied for a residence permit under the Special Act. You do not have to wait for the permit.
But how much should you get paid? Are you entitled to holidays? And do the Danish rules on occupational health and safety also apply for employees, who are working in Denmark for a limited period of time? Find the answers here.
The Danish model
In many countries, most rules concerning areas such as work hours, overtime, notice period and pay are solely stipulated in laws, passed by politicians.
This is not the case in Denmark. Instead, the so-called ‘Danish labour market model’ is based on a division of responsibility between the Danish state and the labour market parties, collective agreements and a high percentage of the population organised in unions.
There is no statuary minimum wage. Instead, employees’ work conditions are primarily negotiated and agreed between the labour market parties, i.e. the unions and employers’ associations. Such agreements are known as collective agreements. The national legislation only covers specific areas such as health and safety, holiday entitlement, sickness benefits, equal treatment and equal pay.
There are different collective agreements for occupational groups.
Additional information is available on workplacedenmark.dk, where pay levels and collective agreement terms for selected occupational groups are further explained (for instance bricklayers, carpenters, cleaners, construction workers, electricians, operators and assemblers, painters, plumbers and pipe fitters, skilled workers in manufacturing, unskilled workers in manufacturing)
Many employees in Denmark are members of a union. However, being in a union is not a legal requirement – it is voluntary. Generally, unions are divided according to trade and type of work.
The members of a union often can elect employee representatives at the workplace, who will represent all employees when negotiating pay and work conditions with management.
The employer may not require an employee be a member of a particular union.
Health and safety at the workplace
Danish regulations regarding occupational health and safety apply regardless of the context in which work is carried out in Denmark. This means that they also apply to foreign employers and to employees who are working in Denmark for a limited period of time.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all employees can work under conditions which are acceptable with regard to safety and health, and which are in line with Danish working environment regulations.
It is the employees’ responsibility to follow all security regulations given, e.g. regarding the handling of machines or dangerous substances, requirements to use protective measures (respiratory protection, hearing protection, protective gloves) and the like.
All employees who work more than eight hours per week must be issued an employment contract no less than a month after being employed. The contract will state the nature of the work, weekly working hours, pay and bonuses, which collective agreement the work falls under, termination notice etc.
In Denmark, working hours will typically be 37 hours per week, if the employee has a regular job in either the private or public sector.
The Holiday Act normally applies to all employees working in Denmark. The employer must follow the Holiday Act, and an employee cannot waive the right to holiday.
An employee earns approximately two days’ holiday per month of work. All employees are entitled to 25 days of holiday per year.
An employer is obliged to pay the agreed salary/wages.
There is no mandatory minimum pay in Denmark. The pay is typically governed by collective agreements for different types of work.
For some types of work the pay will depend on the amount the worker must be paid, for example per hour. In other areas, the pay may have been agreed upon in other ways. The pay may, for example, consist of a piece-work rate, performance related pay or similar.
Some collective agreements will stipulate that the pay must include an individually negotiated supplement to the minimum rate.
Some collective agreements stipulate that the pay is determined by negotiation with the company. The total pay often exceeds the hourly rate because of other pay components.
The following is considered to be common components of the wage paid by a Danish employer for work carried out in Denmark:
- Minimum pay rate/minimum wage rate/normal wage rate
- Locally negotiated wages and personal supplements or wages (only for collective agreements with a minimum pay rate and agreements without pay rates)
- Special wage schemes, including piecework, bonus and payment by results
- Fixed supplement for all employees (typically in collective agree-ments with normal wage rates)
- Weekday public holiday payment
- Pay during supplementary days off for holiday purposes
- Payment during statutory holiday
- Contribution to optional pay account/free-choice account/special savings
- Contribution to workplace pension schemes
- Overtime pay
- Supplementary payment for unusual working hours
- Supplement for evening, night and weekend work
- Shift work supplement
- Supplement for external work and work requiring travel, including subsistence payment that is not reimbursement for expenses
- Payment for the first day of a child’s illness
- Pay during parental leave as a supplement to public parental leave benefit rate
- Payment during illness as a supplement to public sickness benefit rate.
An employer must in most cases have a proper, factual reason for terminating an employee, e.g. if the employee is unfit for the job, or if termination is necessary due to cut-backs.
An employer cannot terminate an employee due to their gender, race, skin colour, religion or faith, political stance, sexual orientation, age, handicap or national, social or ethnic origins. Likewise, it is illegal to terminate an employee due to pregnancy or parental leave.
Furthermore, an employee cannot be terminated because they are a member of a union or choose not to be a member of a union, or because they are not a member of the same union as their co-workers.
Workplacedenmark.dk is a national website informing foreign employers and posted workers in Denmark about their rights and duties concerning working conditions and health and safety at the workplace. (English, German and Polish)
This page in Ukrainian
This webpage is also available in Ukrainian: