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Executive order on psychosocial working environment

The Danish Working Environment Authority's Executive Order no. 1406 of 26 September 2020 on psychosocial working environment

Pursuant to Section 2 a, Section 17 (3), Section 39 (1), Section 41 (2) and (3), Section 43 (1) and Section 84 of the Danish Working Environment Act, cf. Consolidated Act no. 674 of 25 May 2020, the following is determined by law:

Part 1 - Scope and definitions

Section 1. The Executive Order concerns psychosocial working environment

Subsection (2). The Executive Order contains detailed rules supplementing working environment legislation

Section 2. The Executive Order applies to any work performed for an employer.

Subsection (2). The Executive Order applies to

  1. work in the employer's private household, with the exception of Sections 9-12, 28 and 31-34,
  2. work carried out exclusively by the members of the employer's family belonging to the employer's household, with the exception of Sections 8-12, 22-24, 28 and 31-34; and
  3. work carried out by military personnel, which can be considered as actual military service, with the exception of Sections 9-12, 28 and 31-34.
  4. Subsection (3). The Executive Order also applies to work that is not performed for an employer, with the exception of Sections 9-12, 28 and 31-34.

Section 3. For risks of work-related violence outside working hours, Chapter 1, Sections 5-11, 25, 31-34 and Chapter 4 apply.

Subsection (2). Subsection (1) only applies to work performed for an employer, with the exception of the types of work for an employer mentioned in Section 2 (2).

Section 4. The obligation under this Executive Order rests with employers, business managers, supervisors and other employees, providers of services, designers and consultants, etc. in accordance with the general rules of the Danish Working Environment Act, cf. Section 2 and Chapter 4 of the Act.

Chapter 2 - General provisions

Section 5. At all stages, the work must be planned, organised and carried out in a responsible way  to ensure that its impact on the psychosocial working environment is safe and healthy, individually and collectively,   in both short and long term.

Section 6. Preventive measures are taken with due consideration of the general prevention principles, cf. Appendix 1.

Section 7. In this Executive Order, the impact on the psychosocial working environment is defined as the psychosocial effects of the work that takes place in relation to the following:

  1. The way the work is planned and organised.
  2. Organisational conditions of importance to the work carried out by the employees.
  3. The content of the work, including the requirements of the work.
  4. The way the work is performed.
  5. The social relations in the workplace.

Section 8. When carrying out the work, the employee's age, comprehension ability to perform the work and other circumstances must be taken into consideration.

Subsection (2). Particularly sensitive risk groups, including pregnant and nursing employees must be protected against risks in the psychosocial working environment that may have serious consequences for them, according to measures set out in the Executive Order on the performance of work.

Section 9. If the employer does not have the necessary expertise to implement health and safety measures concerning psychosocial working environment, the employer must engage external expert assistance to ensure the presence of health and safety in the psychosocial working environment responsibly.

Section 10. The employer must ensure that each employee, regardless of the nature and duration of the employment, receives adequate and appropriate training and instruction to carry out the work with due regard to health and safety. In particular, training and instruction must be carried out in relation to

  1. employment,
  2. transfer of employees,
  3. changes of tasks,
  4. the introduction or modification of work equipment;
  5. the introduction of new technology and
  6. use of technical aids.

Subsection (2). The training and instruction noted in (1) must be adapted to developments at work including the emergence of new risks in terms of the psychosocial health and safety of workers.  Training and instruction must be repeated regularly if necessary.

Subsection (3). The employer must acquaint employees with the accident and illness risks that may be associated with their work.

Section 11. The employer must ensure that effective supervision is carried out to ensure that the work is carried out with due regard to health and safety.

Section 12. The workplace must be designed with attention to health and safety, both individually and collectively in terms of way the psychosocial working environment may impact on physical or psychosocial health in both short and long term. If it is not possible or reasonable to change the interior design t of the workplace in relation to areas covered by the Executive Order on the organisation of changing workplaces, other measures must be taken so that the work can be carried out in a responsible manner.

Chapter 3 - Special provisions concerning individual effects on the psychosocial working environment

High workload and time pressure

Section 13. In relation to high workload and time pressure; at all stages, the work must be planned, organised and carried out responsibly with due regard to health and safety in both short and long term.

Section 14. In this Executive Order, heavy workloads and time pressure are defined as an imbalance between the work to be performed and the time available to perform

  1. intensively and quickly without breaks for restitution
  2. many working hours, which may affect the possibility of restitution.

Subsection (2). Excessive workloads and time pressure may involve a risk to health or safety, cf. Section 15.

Section 15. In assessing whether heavy workloads and time pressure involve a risk to health or safety, particular emphasis should be placed on the relation between the following elements:

  1. Extent of heavy workload and time pressure, including the duration of the work.
  2. The nature of heavy workloads and time pressure.
  3. Preventive measures, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, the assessment in accordance with (1) must emphasise whether other aspects of the working environment increase the risk to safety or health in the occurrence of heavy workloads and time pressure.

Unclear and conflicting demands at work

Section 16. In relation to unclear and conflicting demands  at work; at all stages, the work must be planned, organised and carried out responsibly with due regard to health and safety in both short and long term.

Section 17. In this  this Executive Order, unclear and conflicting demands are defined as the presence of unclear demands  in the work or that demands are incompatible, including demands  for specific jobs, quality level, work function, areas of responsibility, work methods, work processes, roles of employees, time consumption, speed of work or working hours.

Subsection (2). Unclear and conflicting demands in the work may involve a risk to health or safety, cf. Section 18.

Section 18. When assessing whether unclear and conflicting demands in the work involve a risk to health and safety, particular attention must be paid to the relation between the following elements:

  1. The extent of the unclear and conflicting demands in the work, including its duration.
  2. The nature of the unclear and conflicting demands in the work.
  3. Preventive measures, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, the assessment in accordance with (1) must emphasise whether other aspects of the working environment increase the risk to safety or health in the occurrence of unclear and conflicting requirements

High emotional demands when working with people

Section 19. In relation to high emotional demands when working with people; at all stages, the work must be planned, organised and carried out responsibly with due regard to health and safety in both short and long term.

Section 20. In this Executive Order, high emotional demands when working with people is defined as  work that involves direct or indirect contact with people, including citizens and customers, and where this contact requires that you

  1. familiarise yourself with, manage or deal with the thoughts, feelings or behaviour of these people;
  2. manage or hide own thoughts or feelings, or
  3. adapt communication or behaviour to the people being worked with.

Subsection (2). High emotional demands when working with people may involve a risk to health or safety, cf. Section 21.

Section 21. When assessing whether high emotional demands in working with people involve a risk to safety or health, particular attention should be paid to the relation between the following elements:

  1. The extent of contact with the people being worked with, including its duration.
  2. The nature of the contact with the people being worked with.
  3. Preventive measures, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, in the event of high emotional demands in working with people, the assessment in accordance with (1) must include whether other aspects of the working environment increase the risk to safety or health.

Offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment

Section 22. In relation to offensive behaviour; at all stages, work must be planned, organised and executed responsibly with due regard to health and safety in both short and long term.

Section 23. In this Executive Order, offensive behaviour is defined as a situation where one or more persons grossly or several times expose one or more other persons in the company to bullying, sexual harassment or other degrading behaviour in the workplace. The behaviour must be perceived as degrading by the person being subject to this behaviour.

Subsection (2). Common management actions, collegial feedback and likewise are not generally considered an offensive behaviour.

Subsection (3) Offensive behaviour may involve a risk to health or safety, cf. Section 24.

Section 24. When assessing whether offensive behaviour involve a risk to safety or health, particular attention should be paid to the relation between the following elements:

  1. The extent of the offensive behaviour, including its duration.
  2. The nature of the offensive behaviour, including the context in which it occurs.
  3. Preventive measures, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, the assessment in accordance with (1) must include whether other aspects of the working environment increase the risk to safety or health in the occurrence of offensive behaviour at work.

Work-related violence

Section 25. In this Executive Order, work-related violence is defined as the situation where persons who are not employees or employers of the company, including citizens and customers, use violence against employees or employers. Violence is defined as

  1. physical violence in the form of attacks against the body and
  2. psychological violence in the form of threats and other offensive behaviour, including harassment.

Subsection (2). Subsection (1) also includes robbery.

Subsection (3) Work-related violence can take place both during work and outside working hours.

Work-related violence during work

Section 26. With regard to the risk of work-related violence in the workplace; at all stages, work must be planned, organised and executed responsibly with due regard to health and safety in both short and long term.

Section 27. When assessing whether the work is completely safe in terms of health and safety in relation to the risk of work-related violence during work, particular attention should be paid to the relation between the following elements:

  1. The likelihood of work-related violence occurring at work.
  2. The nature of the violence that may occur.
  3. Preventive measures, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, the assessment in accordance with (1) must include whether other aspects of the working environment increase the risk of work-related violence in the workplace.

Section 28. If there is a risk of work-related violence, the workplace must be designed in such a way that there is sufficient opportunity for employees to find safety in the occurrence of violent incidents or near-accidents. If it is not possible or reasonable to change the physical interior design of the workplace in relation to work covered by measures set out in the Executive Order on the organisation of varying workplaces, other measures must be taken to ensure that employees can find safety in the occurrence of violent episodes or near-accidents.

Section 29. If the employee performs solitary work, which may involve a special risk of violence, the work must be arranged in such a way that the special risk of violence is countered. If the special risk of violence cannot be countered, the employee must not work alone.

Section 30. Only employees who have received appropriate training must have access to areas that contain a particular risk of violence in the workplace.

Work-related violence outside working hours

Section 31. In relation to the risk of work-related violence outside working hours; at all stages, the work must be planned, organised and carried out responsibly with due regard to health and safety, in both short and long term.

Section 32. In relation to the risk of work-related violence outside working hours, when assessing whether the work is being carried out responsibly with due regard to health and safety, particular attention must be paid to the relation between the following elements:

  1. Probability of the occurrence of work-related violence outside working hours.
  2. The nature of the violence that may occur.
  3. Preventive measures implemented in the workplace, including those mentioned in Annex 1.

Subsection (2). In addition, the assessment in accordance with subsection (1) must emphasise whether other aspects in the working environment increase the risk of work-related violence outside working hours.

Section 33. The employer must ensure that employees are given appropriate guidance in how to deal with work-related violent episodes outside of working hours and their run-up.

Subsection (2). For use during guidance, the employer must ensure that guidelines are established for the appropriate managing of work-related violent episodes outside of working hours and their run-up.

Section 34. The employer must ensure that any employee who has been subject to work-related violent event outside working hours is offered assistance in reporting the incident to the police.

Subsection (2). The obligation in (1) presupposes that the employer has become aware of the event.

Chapter 4 - Appeals

Section 35. Appeals may be lodged against decisions made by The Danish Working Environment Authority based on this Executive Agreement pursuant to Section 81 of the Danish Working Environment Act.

Penalties

Section 36. Unless a more severe penalty is incurred under the Danish Working Environment Act or any other legislation, anyone who

  1. violates Sections 5, 8-13, 16, 19, 22, 26, 28-31 and 33; or
  2. does not comply with decisions, including orders or prohibitions, issued pursuant to this Executive Order is liable to fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

Subsection (2). For violations of Sections 5, 11-13, 16, 19, 26, 28-31 and 33, an employer may be liable to fines, even if the violation cannot be attributed to the employer as intentional or negligent. It is a condition for liability that the violation can be attributed to one or more persons associated with the company or to the company itself. There is no non-collectible fine associated with liability.

Subsection (3). Criminal liability may be imposed on companies etc. (legal persons) under the rules of the Danish Criminal Code, Chapter 5.

Entry into force

Section 37. The Executive Order shall enter into force on 1 November 2020.

The Danish Working Environment Authority, 26 September 2020

Sine Frederiksen / Inger Wesenberg Sandgrav

Official notes

1)The Executive Order contains provisions that implement Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the implementation of measures to improve the safety and health of workers at work, Official Journal 1989, no. L 183, page 1, with subsequent amendments, Council Directive 91/383/EEC of 25 June 1991 supplementing measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work for workers with a fixed-term or temporary employment relationship, Official Journal 1991, No. L 206, page 19, with subsequent amendments, Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of workers who have just given birth or who are breastfeeding, Official Journal 1992, No. L 348, page 1, with subsequent amendments, and Council Directive 2010/32/EU of 10 May 2010 on the implementation of the Framework Agreement concluded by HOSPEEM and EPSU on the prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector, Official Journal 2010, no. L 134, page 66.