While part 1 of the FAQ covered the legal framework for Danish employment law, employee categories and employment contracts, this part 2 of the FAQ will deal with topics relating to absence from work. More specifically, it will cover 1. holiday, 2. sickness absence and 3. pay and maternity, paternity and parental leave.
How does the Danish holiday system work?
Under the Danish Holiday Act, employees are entitled to five weeks of holiday (paid or unpaid) each holiday year in addition to public holidays. The Danish Holiday Act underwent material amendments recently as a staggered holiday scheme (holiday accrued in one year to be taken in a subsequent year) was abolished and a concurrent holiday scheme was introduced. The concurrent holiday scheme allows employees to take paid holiday continuously as holiday is accrued, as further explained below.
When is paid holiday accrued?
Employees accrue 2.08 days of paid holiday each month of employment. In total, 25 days of paid holiday are accrued each holiday year (starting each 1 September and ending the following 31 August).
How is holiday taken?
Paid holiday may be taken in each "holiday taking period" (16 months), i.e. the holiday year plus an additional four months. For example, the current holiday taking period runs from 1 September 2020 to 31 December 2021.
Employees are entitled to take at least three consecutive weeks (the main holiday) of their holiday entitlement of five weeks in the period between 1 May and 30 September. Generally, the scheduling of holiday should be agreed in advance with the employer. If no agreement on the taking of holiday can be made, the employer may demand that the employee takes his/her main holiday subject to three months' notice and takes other holiday subject to one month's notice.
What if an employee wants to take paid holiday before it is accrued?
The employer and the employee may agree that the employee may take paid holiday "in advance", i.e. take paid holiday before it has been accrued. The employer is not under any obligation to enter into such agreements.
May the employee postpone accrued but untaken holiday?
It is possible for the employer and the employee to agree that accrued but untaken paid holiday in excess of four weeks (i.e. the 5th week of statutory holiday) is to be transferred to the following holiday taking period. If no such agreement is made, any such remaining paid holiday will be paid out to the employee by default.
What about additional non-statutory holiday (the 6th week of holiday)?
The Danish Holiday Act does not govern additional non-statutory holiday (i.e. the 6th week of holiday). Any such non-statutory holiday is governed by a collective bargaining agreement, company policy or the employment contract.
2. Sickness absence and pay
Are employees entitled to salary during absence due to sickness?
Salaried employees (white-collar employees) are entitled to their normal salary (including benefits, bonus, pension, etc.) during absence due to sickness.
Blue-collar workers, on the other hand, are not entitled to receive salary during sickness absence by virtue of legislation. Many collective bargaining agreements do, however, set out rules on such workers' entitlements to salary during sickness absence.
If an employee is not entitled to salary during sickness absence (neither under legislation nor a collective bargaining agreement), the employee may be entitled to receive sickness benefits from the Danish State (usually less than the salary).
Does the employer have to take on the full cost of paying salary during sickness?
No. After the first 30 days of sickness absence, the employer may be entitled to reimbursement of sickness benefits from the Danish State. If so, the employer will receive an amount of maximum DKK 4,460 (2021 level) per week for a full-time employee. The remainder of the salary cost (for the exceeding salary) is finally paid by the employer.
Which documentation requirements apply?
An employer may demand a doctor's medical certificate documenting the sickness. A medical certificate may include (i) documentation that the employee is ill and unable to perform his/her work, (ii) a description of the duties that cannot be performed by the employee and (iii) the possibilities of the employee returning to work.
If the employee is absent due to sickness for more than 14 days, the employer may demand a medical certificate from the employee's doctor or from a specialist chosen by the employee. The employer may demand that the certificate indicates the expected duration of the sickness. But the employer is not entitled to receive any information about the nature of the sickness.
If an employee fails to produce a medical certificate as requested by the employer, the employer may be entitled to terminate the employment with immediate effect. However, this depends on the circumstances at hand, including the time-limits set out, the reason for the request, etc. Generally, the employer should give the employee an additional (short) time-limit to produce the documentation requested including a warning that the employee will be dismissed without notice in case of non-compliance with the request before simply turning to the summary dismissal.
What about termination of the employment due to sickness absence?
This will be covered in part 3 of this FAQ which will cover various topics relating to termination of the employment.
3. Maternity, paternity and parental leave
How long are employees' maternity, paternity and parental leaves?
Under Danish law, female employees are entitled to pregnancy leave starting four weeks prior to the expected date of delivery. Further, female employees are entitled to an additional 14 weeks of maternity leave starting from the date of the actual delivery.
Male employees are entitled to paternity leave for two consecutive weeks within the first 14 weeks of the date of delivery or the date of placement.
Additionally, each parent has an individual right to 32 weeks of parental leave after the 14th week after the birth. Male employees are, however, entitled to commence taking the parental leave within the first 14 weeks following the birth. Each employee may prolong the parental leave by up to 46 weeks.
Can an employee choose to postpone the leave?
An employee may choose to postpone between eight and 13 weeks of the parental leave to be held at a later time, but it must be taken before the child reaches nine years of age.
What about salary during maternity, paternity and parental leave?
Generally, an employee is only entitled to maternity/paternity pay (benefits from the Danish State) during the maternity/paternity leave and some of the parental leave. However, entitlement to salary during (some of) these leave periods may be governed by a collective bargaining agreement, a company policy or the employment contract. Further, under the Danish Salaried Employees Act, a pregnant employee is entitled to receive 50% of her salary from the employer during the four weeks prior to the expected date of delivery and during the 14 weeks following the date of birth.
In practice, many employers choose to pay full salary to their employees during the maternity and paternity leave and often also during some of the parental leave, typically approximately ten weeks. In such case, the employer may be entitled to receive reimbursement of the maternity/paternity pay (which the employee would otherwise have received) from the Danish State.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.