Freedom of association in the Danish labour market

As a posted worker in Denmark you are protected against discrimination from your employer, on hiring or termination, favouring whether you are – or are not – a member of a trade union.

In Denmark an employer may not demand that you are a member of a particular union. Nor may an employer demand that you are not a member of a union. Freedom of association and organisation is guaranteed by law in Denmark and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that protects human rights and fundamental freedoms. This includes the right to join and form associations and participate in assemblies.

The law on freedom of association in the labour market

The law on freedom of association in the labour market protects workers’ freedom of association rights by prohibiting an employer from favouring whether a worker is or is not a union member.

The law protects:

  • In connection with hiring
  • In connection with termination

The law also prohibits so-called exclusivity clauses in collective agreements. This means that collective agreements must not contain provisions that workers must be members of a union or of a particular union.

Exceptions

If an employer promotes a certain political, ideological, religious or cultural viewpoint, and this is central to its business, the employer is exempt from the law's general regulation. It may be permitted, for example, for a party political association to demand that employees are associated with the party or that they are not associated with other parties.

Termination may be deemed invalid

If a worker is dismissed contrary to the law, the dismissal will be deemed invalid, and the worker may be reinstated if the employee so wishes. This does not apply, however, if it is clearly unreasonable to require that the employment relation be maintained or restored. In this situation, the employer will be required to pay compensation to the worker.

The amount of compensation must not be less than one month's salary and not more than 24 months' salary. If employment has lasted two years, the compensation may not be less than 3 months' salary.

Denmark is a member of the ILO

Denmark is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which aims to combat poverty and promote social justice. A further aim is to ensure freedom of organisation and association. The ILO adopted convention no. 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, which Denmark has ratified.

On the ILO website you can find the ILO conventions that Denmark has ratified.