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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Denmark


In Denmark, employment law does not operate with an "at-will" termination concept. Instead, employers must have objectively valid reasons for dismissing an employee. Common lawful grounds for dismissal include redundancy, employee conduct, and incapacity.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

  • Redundancy: Economic conditions or workplace reorganization may render the employee's position unnecessary.
  • Employee Conduct: Severe breaches of contract, unsatisfactory job performance, or serious misconduct can justify dismissal.
  • Incapacity: Long-term illness or disability that significantly prevents an employee from fulfilling their job duties.

It's important to note that employers must generally follow a process of issuing warnings and providing opportunities for improvement before resorting to dismissal for conduct or incapacity.

Notice Requirements

Notice periods in Denmark depend on the employee's length of service, and are typically longer for employers than for employees:

  • Employee Notice: Generally, one month's notice is required.
  • Employer Notice:
    • Less than 6 months of service: 1 month
    • 6 months to 3 years: 3 months
    • 3-6 years: 4 months
    • 6-9 years: 5 months
    • Over 9 years: 6 months

Severance Pay

Denmark doesn't have statutory severance pay requirements. However, severance might be included in collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts.

Additional Considerations

  • Probationary Periods: Shorter notice periods may apply during agreed-upon probationary periods.
  • Gross Misconduct: In cases of gross misconduct by either party, immediate termination may be possible without notice.
  • Unfair Dismissal: Employees can challenge dismissals they deem unfair through unions or the labor court system.


Danish anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on various protected characteristics. These include race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and age. Discrimination on the basis of race or color, national, social, or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, physical or mental disabilities, and age is strictly prohibited.

Redress Mechanisms

If an employee experiences discrimination in the workplace, they have several options. These include internal reporting, where employees can raise concerns directly with their employer or designated HR personnel. They can also file a formal complaint with the Board of Equal Treatment (Ligebehandlingsnævnet), which investigates and mediates discrimination cases. Employees can seek assistance from their trade union if they have one. In some instances, employees may choose to take the matter to court.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Denmark have a legal responsibility to protect employees from discrimination and uphold a discrimination-free workplace. Key responsibilities include implementing clear policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on any of the protected characteristics. They are also responsible for providing regular training to employees and managers on anti-discrimination laws and policies, thoroughly investigating all complaints of discrimination and taking appropriate corrective action where necessary, and protecting employees who raise concerns against retaliation.

Working conditions

In Denmark, the standard workweek is 37 hours, typically spread over Monday to Friday. This is significantly lower than the average workweek in many other countries. Many workplaces in Denmark offer flexible working hours, allowing employees some control over their schedules to promote better work-life balance. This can be particularly beneficial for those with childcare or eldercare responsibilities. While overtime work is permitted, it is generally discouraged. Danish work culture emphasizes efficiency and completing tasks within the regular workweek.

Rest Periods

All employees in Denmark are legally entitled to a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation per year. This generous vacation allowance allows for significant time for rest and relaxation. Denmark offers extensive parental leave policies, supporting families during childbirth and early childhood. Denmark observes several public holidays throughout the year, providing additional paid days off for employees.

Ergonomic Requirements

Danish workplaces are required to adhere to strict ergonomic regulations. These regulations aim to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by ensuring:

  • Proper workstation setup: This includes providing ergonomic furniture, such as adjustable chairs and desks, to promote good posture and reduce strain.
  • Regular breaks: Employers are encouraged to implement regular breaks throughout the workday to allow employees to move around and rest their bodies.
  • Risk assessments: Workplaces should conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential ergonomic hazards and implement appropriate controls.

Health and safety

In Denmark, the Working Environment Act (WEA) mandates employers to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. This involves several key obligations.

Employer Obligations

Employers are required to conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace and implement appropriate control measures to mitigate risks. They must also establish a clear work environment policy outlining safety procedures, employee rights, and reporting mechanisms.

The provision of safe equipment and training is another obligation. Employers are required to provide employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper training for safe work practices.

For companies with more than 35 employees, they must establish a Health and Safety Organization (HSO) to facilitate cooperation between employers and employees on safety matters.

Employee Rights

Employees in Denmark have a strong legal right to a safe and healthy workplace, as enshrined in the WEA. This includes the right to refuse work they believe poses a serious risk to their health and safety.

Employees also have the right to be informed about potential hazards in the workplace and receive proper training on safe work practices. They are entitled to participate in discussions and decision-making processes related to health and safety at work.

Furthermore, employees have the right to report unsafe work conditions to their employer or the Danish Working Environment Authority (WEA) without fear of retribution.

Enforcement Agencies

The Danish Working Environment Authority (WEA) is the primary agency responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations in the workplace. The WEA conducts inspections, investigates complaints, and issues orders to ensure compliance.

Employers who fail to comply with health and safety regulations may face fines or even criminal prosecution.

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