Rivermate | Greenland flag


Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Greenland

Standard working hours

Greenland, a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, sets guidelines for standard working hours through its Employment Contracts Act.

The Act sets the legal limit for working hours within a specific timeframe. The daily limit is that working hours must not exceed 8 hours within a 24-hour period. The weekly limit is that the total working hours cannot surpass 40 hours per week. These limitations are in place to ensure employees receive adequate rest and are not subjected to excessive work demands.

While the Employment Contracts Act establishes maximums, it doesn't dictate a specific standard workweek. However, a common practice exists. Many employers in Greenland typically follow a work schedule of 8 hours per day from Monday to Friday, resulting in a 37-hour workweek. This aligns with standard working hours observed in Denmark.

The specific working hours for an employee will be outlined in their individual employment contract, which must comply with the maximum working hour limitations set by law.

There can be exceptions to the standard workweek under certain circumstances. Industry-specific agreements negotiated between employers and employee organizations might establish different working hours. Some employers may offer flexible work schedules allowing for variations in daily or weekly working hours, as long as the maximum limits are not breached.


In Greenland, the Employment Contracts Act is the primary legislation governing overtime work. However, it doesn't mandate specific overtime pay rates. Instead, the terms of compensation for overtime work are typically determined through negotiation between employees and employers within their employment contracts, or through industry-specific collective bargaining agreements negotiated between employer organizations and trade unions.

If there's no pre-determined rate in the employment contract or a collective agreement, there's no legal requirement for employers to offer additional compensation for overtime work. The Act also establishes limitations on overtime work to safeguard employee well-being. Overtime exceeding 4 hours in a single day requires the employee's consent, and the total overtime hours cannot surpass 48 hours within a seven-day period. Working beyond these limitations or without employee consent for daily overtime exceeding 4 hours is a violation of labor regulations.

There can be exceptions to the overtime limitations in specific situations. In unforeseen emergency situations, exceeding the overtime limits might be necessary. However, employers are still obligated to inform the employee representatives and potentially offer compensatory rest periods. Certain critical sectors or public interest situations may allow for exceeding the limits with proper justification and adherence to any established collective bargaining agreements.

Rest periods and breaks

Greenland's labor framework acknowledges the significance of rest periods and breaks for the well-being of employees. This is established by the Employment Contracts Act.

Every 24-hour period must include at least 11 consecutive hours of rest for the employee, according to the Employment Contracts Act. This ensures adequate recovery time between work shifts.

There are limited exceptions to the 11-hour rest period requirement. In workplaces with multiple shifts, the rest period can be reduced to 8 hours to facilitate shift changes. However, this can only occur if maintaining the 11-hour rest isn't feasible. Certain industries, like agriculture, hunting, fishing, whaling, or sealing, might have exemptions outlined in separate regulations. Employees should consult with their employer or relevant authorities if they are unsure about any exemptions applicable to their industry.

While the Employment Contracts Act doesn't explicitly mandate specific break durations, it acknowledges the concept of reasonable breaks. The legislation implies a right to reasonable breaks during the workday based on fair working practice. The specific details regarding break duration and frequency are typically determined through individual employment contracts or industry-specific agreements between employers and employee organizations. In the absence of clear guidelines in the employment contract or a collective agreement, employees can discuss reasonable break arrangements with their employers.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Greenland, the labor framework addresses night shifts and weekend work, but the regulations differ slightly compared to some countries. The specifics are referenced in the Employment Contracts Act.

For night shift work, there's no legal definition within the Employment Contracts Act. The Act doesn't mandate specific compensation for night shifts. Pay for night work is typically determined through negotiation or collective agreements. Employees can negotiate night shift premiums within their employment contracts. Industry-specific agreements might establish standard night shift pay rates. In the absence of pre-determined rates, there's no legal requirement for night shift supplements. While specific night shift regulations are limited, Greenland adheres to general workplace safety regulations. Employers must ensure a safe and healthy work environment regardless of the working hours.

As for weekend work, Greenland doesn't have a legal standard workweek. However, the most common practice follows a Monday-Friday schedule. Similar to night shifts, the Employment Contracts Act doesn't mandate extra pay for weekend work. Weekend work compensation can be established through individual contracts or collective agreements. Individual contracts might outline weekend pay premiums. Industry-specific agreements may dictate weekend work pay structures.

In conclusion, night shift and weekend work compensation are primarily determined through negotiation or collective agreements. The focus remains on adhering to general workplace safety regulations during non-standard working hours.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.