Pay and working hours for expatriate staff
In the Danish labour market, working hours and pay are primarily regulated by collective agreements or individual employment contracts between employers and employees. There are no legal requirements for foreign companies with staff posted in Denmark to enter into any agreements. See the section on collective agreements.
The companies can obtain information about pay conditions under the main collective agreements by contacting the labour market parties.
By studying the collective agreements that apply to the type of work performed by the company, the company can learn about the pay conditions that will apply to the company.
There are, however, legal requirements regarding maximum weekly working hours and rest periods.
As a general rule, working hours are regulated in a collective agreement, and in most areas standard working hours are 37 hours per week. This has extended to many other areas without collective agreements.
The Danish Labour Market Fund for Posted Workers
From October 2016, posted workers covered by a collective agreement may, in certain cases, receive assistance from the Danish Labour Market Fund for Posted Workers if their employer refuses to pay.
The rules are not mandatory
The rules on daily rest periods and two consecutive days off per week can be dispensed with in the case of work in the agricultural sector and work involving the care of people, animals and plants. The daily rest period for work in the agricultural sector may, for example, be reduced to 8 hours 30 days a year, and the two consecutive days off per week can either be postponed or rescheduled.
The rules for a daily rest period and two consecutive days off per week do not apply to:
- Work in an employer’s private household
- Certain types of work within road transport
Special rules apply to workers under the age of 18 and for work involving loading and unloading.
Agreements on working hours
All types of agreements on working hours for workers over the age of 18 are, however, limited in certain respects. The EU’s Working Time Directive defines the following framework for working hours:
- A daily rest period of a minimum of 11 consecutive hours.
- A break if the working day exceeds 6 hours. The duration of the break depends on its purpose, e.g. a lunch break.
- Two consecutive days off per week, which must be preceded by a daily rest period. The period between the two consecutive days off cannot exceed 6 days.
- Weekly working hours may not exceed an average of 48 hours, including overtime.
- A night worker may not work more than an average of 8 hours per 24-hour period.
Obligation to be available
If the worker is obliged to make his services available to the employer, the rules differ depending on whether the worker must be available at or outside the workplace.
- If the worker is available at the workplace, the time does not count as a daily rest period.
- If the worker is available outside the workplace, for example in the worker’s home, the time counts as a daily rest period if the worker is not actually working.
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.
In all circumstances, the company can find out what pay applies to different areas by referring to the relevant collective agreement and its appendices, if applicable.
As regards demands against a foreign company for a collective agreement, see the section on collective agreements.
Read more about the main Danish labour market organisations, which can provide information about the content of the collective agreements, including key issues such as wages.
The umbrella organisation for 14 employers’ organisations in the private labour market within industry, trade, transport, service and construction.
Telephone: +45 33 38 90 00
Umbrella organisation for a large number of trade unions. Represents 1.4 million members across different sectors.
Telephone: +45 35 24 60 00
Contact the Ministry of Employment
Monday to Thursday 8.30-16.0
+45 72 20 50 00