As a general rule, working hours are fixed in a collective agreement and in the great majority of sectors standard working hours are 37 hours weekly. This has had a knock-on effect in many of the sectors that do not have a collective agreement. In Denmark there is no legislative requirement for foreign companies or service providers to sign or enter into a collective agreement.
Working hours contracts
All types of working hours contracts for employees over 18 years of age are, however, restricted on some points. The EU Working Time Directive sets the following restrictions on working hours:
- A daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours
- A break during any working day lasting longer than 6 hours. The length of the break depends on its purpose, for example, a break for food
- One rest day (24 hours) per week that must be an extension of a daily rest period. There must not be more than 6 days between 2 rest days
- A working week of maximum 48 hours on average including overtime
- A night worker may not work more than 8 hours per 24-hour period on average.
The rules may be waived
It is possible to waive the regulations on daily rest periods and weekly rest days in agricultural and horticultural work and care of people, animals and plants. The daily rest period for work in agriculture and horticulture, for example, can be reduced to 8 hours, 30 days a year, and the weekly rest day can either be postponed or re-scheduled.
The regulations on daily rest periods and weekly rest days do not apply to:
- Work in an employer's private residence
- Certain types of work in the road transport sector.
Special regulations apply to work with loading and unloading, and to employees under the age of 18.
Obligation to be available for employer
If an employee is obliged to be available for an employer the deciding factor is whether the employee must be available at or outside the workplace.
- If an employee is available at the workplace it is not counted as rest time (daily rest period).
- If the employee is available outside the workplace, for example at the employee's home, it is counted as rest time when work is not being carried out.
An employer is obliged to pay the agreed salary.
There is no statutory minimum wage in Denmark. Wages are typically fixed by collective agreement for different types of work. Employees often have the opportunity to negotiate an eventual supplement to their wage by collective agreement.
If the employee's work area is covered by a collective agreement and there is no expressly agreed wage in the individual employment conditions, the general principle is that the collective agreement wage will be paid.
If an employee's work area is not covered by a collective agreement, it is important that the wage to be paid is clearly stated in advance.
As long as labour market partners are able to resolve issues in a responsible manner, the Danish state refrains as far as possible from intervening in the regulation of wage and working conditions.
The Danish Labour Market Fund for Posted Workers
From October 2016 employees posted to work in Denmark, can – in some circumstances – receive their salary via the Danish Labour Market Fund for Posted Workers, if they cannot get their employer to pay. This requires among other that the posted worker is covered by a collective agreement.
Read more about the Danish Labour Market Fund for Posted Workers
Read more about the two largest main organisations
The Confederation of Danish Employers (DA)
The main organisation for 14 employers' organisations in the private sector within industry, trade, services and construction.
The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)
The umbrella organisation for 18 trade unions and 4 cartels. Represents 1.1 million members across various sectors.