An average working day in Denmark starts between 8am and 8.30am and typically ends at 5pm. Women work around 35 hours while men work an average of 41 hours. Less than 10% of workers do more than 49 hours a week. Denmark’s strong family-centred ethos means employers generally expect their workers to leave on time and weekend meetings are rare. Scheduling business meetings after 4pm and on Saturdays are, therefore, not advisable unless absolutely necessary. Working hours are flexible and employees are able to fit their work around family commitments.
Holiday entitlement in Denmark is generous with workers getting five weeks and up to five more days off on top each year. Danes take at least three weeks off during the summer and it is not unusual for some firms to close completely over the summer period (late June to early August). Christmas and Easter are also observed holidays. Employers are expected to pay workers sick pay. Employees do not have to tell their bosses the nature of the illness but a Fit for Work certificate maybe required for both short and long-term absences. The Danish maternity leave system is considered generous by international standards, with parents entitled to receive 52 weeks of paid leave per child.
There are 13 public holidays in Denmark and although not protected by law, most employees, both part-time and full-time, are given paid time off on certain dates in the calendar.
Public holiday dates
New Year’s Day: 1st January
Maundy Thursday: 13th April
Good Friday: 14th April
Easter Sunday: 16th April
Easter Monday: 17th April
Prayer Day: 1st May
Ascension Day: 12th May
Whit Monday: 25th May
Constitution Day: 5th June
Christmas Eve: 24th December
Christmas Day: 25th December
2nd Day of Christmas: 26th December
Visas and eligibility to work
Thanks to freedom of movement with the European Union, the majority of EU citizens are permitted to enter Denmark without extra documentation. For citizens from outside the EU, Denmark offers a points-based Green Card to workers who fulfil certain criteria designed to attract skilled workers into the country. Foreigners with a job offer from a Danish employer can also apply for a work permit under the Positive List scheme. The Pay Limit scheme also allows workers who earn more than DKK375,000 (£35,412) to apply for a residence permit. British workers can apply for visas by submitting applications to the Denmark Visa Application Centre in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh.
In Denmark the tax year runs from 1st January to 31st December. Denmark has one of the highest income tax rates in Europe which contributes to its social welfare system. As well as high taxes, there is a 25% VAT charge on nearly all goods and services. Upon gaining employment in Denmark, you will need to find out which tax scheme you are required to pay into. In order to do this you will have to register with SKAT (the Central Tax Administration) which are based in most towns and cities. Since January 2011, expats who come to Denmark under the Researcher Tax Scheme (which is aimed at researchers and academics) will pay a flat rate of 26% for the first five years.
Pension contributions are deducted from almost everyone’s wages in Denmark. Most public sector workers also contribute to a collective pension which workers’ pay into in addition to their state pension. Anyone who has lived in Denmark for at least 40 years after the age of 15 is entitled to a full state pension which is paid to people over 65. Company pension schemes normally make up around 15% of an employee’s wage which is paid into every month. Company pensions usually also offer insurance covering health, disability, critical illness and death. Private pensions can be arranged with a bank and can be paid out in full or in instalments.
In Denmark expats are entitled to unemployment insurance if they are between 18 and 63 and are working in the country. Some benefits are granted immediately but others depend on how long you have worked in Denmark. For more information, visit http://www.nordsoc.org/en/Denmark/
The rights of disabled workers have been strongly promoted since 1993, when Denmark adopted an equal opportunity resolution. Although not legally binding, the government urged public and private companies to support disabled workers. The Danish Disability Council, (Det Centrale Handicapraad) is based in Copenhagen and is government-funded. It advises the government on disabled issues and works to promote good working environments.