Notice Period in Denmark: The Rules & Your Rights Explained





Frederik is dedicated to helping foreigners living in Denmark get a good start. Whether you are a foreigner or working with them, you know how difficult it can be to find the correct information about your new home. Frederik is also from Denmark and now lives as an Expat in Thailand.

In Denmark, as in many other countries, the concept of a notice period serves a pivotal role in the employment landscape. When either an employer or employee decides to terminate an employment contract, a notice period provides a defined duration in which both parties can prepare and adapt to the impending change. This transition phase ensures a smooth shift, allowing employers ample time to find a suitable replacement and employees to seek new opportunities.

This article will delve into the intricacies of the notice period in Denmark, highlighting its legal framework, the various employment contracts, and the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved.

Key Takeaways

  • Denmark's employment laws outline specific notice periods for termination of employment.
  • Different employment contracts in Denmark have varied notice period stipulations.
  • The length of the notice period is influenced by factors such as job duration and employment type.
  • There are special conditions, such as immediate dismissal, which bypass standard notice periods.
  • Employees retain rights like full salary and seeking alternative employment during the notice period.
  • Employers have responsibilities like providing clear termination reasons and adhering to legal notice periods.
  • Foreigners can benefit from understanding their contracts, joining trade unions, and seeking local advice.

The Legal Framework

Denmark boasts a structured and comprehensive employment system, and at its core lies a well-defined legal framework that regulates notice periods among other employment-related matters.

The Danish Salaried Employees Act

One of the primary references when discussing notice periods is the Danish Salaried Employees Act (often referred to as "Funktionærloven" in Danish). This act outlines the rights and obligations of salaried employees and employers, especially concerning the termination of employment. It sets standard notice periods based on the duration of employment and provides guidelines on the conditions under which an employment relationship can be terminated.

However, it's crucial to note that the Salaried Employees Act predominantly applies to salaried employees, encompassing roles such as clerical workers, salespeople, and those in managerial positions. For those not covered under this act, the terms of their employment contract or collective agreements (if applicable) often dictate the rules around notice periods.

Collective Agreements

In addition to the Salaried Employees Act, Denmark has a robust tradition of collective agreements. These agreements are negotiated between trade unions and employer associations and can play a pivotal role in determining notice periods. In some sectors, the terms laid out in collective agreements may supersede the standard rules of the Salaried Employees Act, especially when they offer better terms for the employee.

Employment Contracts

While the above-mentioned legal instruments provide a broad framework, individual employment contracts are also paramount. These contracts, signed between the employer and the employee at the start of the employment relationship, can specify terms related to notice periods. However, they cannot provide terms less favorable than those stated in the Salaried Employees Act or relevant collective agreements.

Types of Employment Contracts in Denmark

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In Denmark, the nature of employment is often categorized based on the type of contract one has entered into with their employer. Each type has its distinct characteristics, which can influence various aspects of the employment relationship, including notice periods.

Permanent Contracts

A permanent contract (also commonly referred to as an indefinite-term contract) is a type of employment contract that doesn't have a specified end date. Essentially, it continues until either the employer or the employee decides to terminate it. Notice periods for permanent contracts typically follow the guidelines set out in the Salaried Employees Act or the terms specified in collective agreements.

Temporary Contracts

Temporary contracts, as the name suggests, are for a predetermined duration. These contracts are often used for seasonal jobs, project-based work, or to replace an employee on leave. Given their transient nature, temporary contracts often have end dates specified, after which the contract automatically expires without the need for a formal notice. However, if there is a need for early termination before the specified end date, the notice period rules will usually be outlined in the contract itself.

Part-time Contracts

Part-time contracts cater to employees who work fewer hours than the standard working week. Just like permanent contracts, they might not have a defined end date. The distinction here lies in the number of working hours. Notice periods for part-time employees, in terms of duration, typically align with those of full-time employees, but this is contingent on the specifics of the employment contract and any governing collective agreements.

Determining Notice Period Length

In the Danish employment landscape, the length of the notice period hinges on several factors. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation; rather, the notice period is influenced by the specifics of each individual employment situation.

Length of Employment

A pivotal factor in determining the notice period length is the duration an employee has been with the same employer. The Danish Salaried Employees Act provides a tiered system:

Employment lengthUsual Notice Period*
Less than 3 months14 days
3-6 months30 days
0.5 - 3 years1-3 months
More than 3 years1-4 months
*depending on the specifics of the employment contract and any governing collective agreements

Type of Employment Contract

As discussed in the previous section, the nature of one's employment contract can also influence the notice period length:

Permanent Contracts: These typically follow the tiered system based on the length of employment, as mentioned above.

Temporary Contracts: Given their fixed duration, they often expire without requiring a notice. However, if there's a clause for early termination, the notice period should be explicitly mentioned within the contract.

Part-time Contracts: The notice period for part-time roles usually mirrors that of full-time roles but should be verified against the individual employment contract and any prevailing collective agreements.

Position Held within the Company

Sometimes, the rank or position of an employee can play a role in determining the notice period. Senior roles, such as executives or managers, might have longer notice periods compared to junior or mid-level positions. This is to account for the potential complexity and responsibility tied to such positions and the time required to find a suitable replacement.

Notice Period in Denmark: Special Conditions & Exceptions

notice period in denmark

While the general rules surrounding notice periods in Denmark are well-defined, there are certain special conditions and exceptions that both employers and employees should be aware of. These scenarios can alter the standard notice periods or introduce unique conditions for employment termination.

Immediate DismissalAllowed for gross misconduct e.g. theft, violence, breach of confidentiality.
Waiving the Notice PeriodMutual agreement to waive notice, allowing immediate termination.
Trial PeriodsOften the first three months; shorter notice periods may apply during this phase.
Redundancies & Mass LayoffsLonger notice periods can apply, with potential for severance packages or support.
Pregnancy & Maternity LeaveSpecial protections in place; cannot terminate unless unrelated to pregnancy/maternity.

Immediate Dismissal

In certain exceptional cases, employers have the right to dismiss an employee immediately, without adhering to the standard notice period. Such decisions are often based on gross misconduct by the employee. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Theft from the workplace.
  • Acts of violence or severe threats.
  • Serious breaches of confidentiality or non-compete clauses.
  • Deliberate actions that harm the company's operations or reputation.

It's essential to note that immediate dismissal is a severe measure and typically requires the employer to present evidence of the misconduct.

Waiving the Notice Period

In some instances, both the employer and the employee might mutually agree to waive the notice period, allowing for immediate departure. This can be beneficial if the employee has found another job opportunity or if the employer has an immediate replacement. Such agreements should be documented in writing to protect the rights of both parties.

Trial Periods

Many employment contracts in Denmark include a trial period at the beginning of the employment relationship, usually lasting for the first three months. During this period, both the employer and the employee can often terminate the employment with shorter notice than what would be required later in the employment. It's imperative to check the specific terms of the contract to understand the notice period rules during the trial phase.

Redundancies and Mass Layoffs

In situations where a company faces financial difficulties or undergoes restructuring, mass layoffs might become necessary. In such cases, specific rules and longer notice periods might apply, especially for employees who have been with the company for an extended period. Employers are also typically required to provide clear communication and, in some cases, offer severance packages or support for affected employees to find new employment opportunities.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

Special protection is granted to pregnant employees and those on maternity leave. Generally, these employees cannot be terminated unless the employer can prove that the dismissal is not related to the pregnancy or maternity leave. Even in such cases, specific rules and extended notice periods might apply.

Employee Rights During Notice Period

The notice period, while signaling the end of an employment relationship, is still a duration of active employment. During this period, employees in Denmark retain several rights to ensure their fair treatment and to facilitate a smooth transition.

Right to Full Salary and Benefits

Regardless of the reason for termination, employees are entitled to receive their full salary and any additional benefits (such as pension contributions or bonuses) as outlined in their employment contract during the notice period. This applies even if the employer requests the employee not to work during the notice period, a situation commonly referred to as "garden leave."

Right to Seek Alternative Employment

Recognizing the need for employees to secure future employment, Danish law allows employees to take necessary time off during the notice period to attend job interviews. This ensures that they can actively seek new opportunities without detriment to their current employment status.

Handling of Unused Vacation Days

Employees have a right to their accrued but unused vacation days. Depending on the employment contract and prevailing collective agreements, employees can either:

  • Use these vacation days during the notice period.
  • Receive a monetary equivalent for the unused days upon the termination of their employment.

It's essential for employees to discuss and clarify this with their employers to ensure they benefit from their earned vacation rights.

Protection Against Unfair Dismissal

If an employee believes their dismissal is unjust or not in line with the provisions of the Danish Salaried Employees Act, collective agreements, or their employment contract, they have the right to challenge it. This can be done through legal avenues or by approaching trade unions, if applicable. Redress could range from monetary compensation to potential reinstatement, depending on the circumstances.

Continued Access to Employee Benefits

Some benefits, such as health insurance or access to certain company resources, might extend beyond the notice period, depending on the employment contract and company policies. Employees should ensure they're aware of the duration and specifics of these benefits to make any necessary arrangements for their post-employment phase.

Employer's Responsibilities

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Terminating an employment relationship carries with it specific obligations on the part of the employer. In Denmark, these responsibilities are designed to uphold the principles of fairness, transparency, and respect for the rights of employees. Here are the primary responsibilities employers must adhere to during the notice period:

Providing a Clear and Justified Reason for Termination

When terminating an employment contract, employers are obliged to provide a clear and legitimate reason for the decision. Whether it's due to organizational changes, performance issues, or economic circumstances, the rationale should be evident and justifiable.

Adherence to Contractual and Legal Notice Periods

Employers must respect the notice periods stipulated in the employment contract, the Danish Salaried Employees Act, or any prevailing collective agreements. Any deviation without mutual consent could be grounds for legal redress.

Payment of Due Salaries and Benefits

Until the end of the notice period, employers are mandated to pay the full salary and all other benefits detailed in the employment contract. This includes any outstanding bonuses, commissions, or reimbursements owed to the employee.

Management of Unused Vacation Days

Employers should address the matter of any accrued but unused vacation days. Depending on mutual agreement or the terms of the employment contract, they should either allow employees to use these days during the notice period or compensate them monetarily for the unused days.

Providing a Certificate of Employment

At the end of the employment period, employers in Denmark are generally required to provide a certificate of employment. This document should detail the nature and duration of the employment and can be crucial for the employee when seeking new opportunities.

Offering Assistance in Transition (if applicable)

In certain scenarios, especially in the case of redundancies or mass layoffs, employers might offer assistance to affected employees. This can take the form of outplacement services, training for new roles, or support in finding alternative employment.

Ensuring a Respectful and Professional Environment

The termination of employment can be a challenging period for both parties involved. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the process is carried out respectfully, avoiding any form of victimization, discrimination, or unprofessional conduct towards the departing employee.

Related: Unemployment Rate in Denmark (2024)

Tips for Foreigners

Navigating the employment landscape in a foreign country can be daunting. The cultural nuances, language barriers, and different legal frameworks can sometimes be overwhelming. For foreigners in Denmark, understanding the ins and outs of notice periods is crucial. Here are some tailored tips to help non-Danish residents traverse this aspect of employment:

  • Understand Your Employment Contract
    • Before signing any employment contract, take the time to thoroughly read and understand its terms, especially regarding termination and notice periods. If there are clauses you don't grasp, consider seeking advice from a local expert or someone familiar with Danish employment laws.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Danish Labor Laws
    • While your employment contract is paramount, understanding the overarching Danish Salaried Employees Act and any other relevant regulations can offer additional clarity. This knowledge can be especially helpful if any discrepancies arise between the law and your contract.
  • Join a Trade Union
    • Many foreigners in Denmark find it beneficial to join a trade union relevant to their profession. These unions not only provide support and advice during employment but can also offer guidance and assistance if you face termination or other workplace issues.
  • Document All Communication
    • In situations where you're facing termination or are in the notice period, ensure that all communication with your employer is documented. This can be valuable if there are any disputes or misunderstandings.
  • Seek Support and Network
    • Connect with other foreigners or expat groups in Denmark. Sharing experiences and getting advice from those who've been in similar situations can be immensely helpful. Moreover, networking can open doors to new employment opportunities.
  • Respect Deadlines and Obligations
    • Ensure you adhere to any deadlines or obligations during the notice period, whether it's handing over responsibilities, returning company property, or completing tasks. This not only maintains professional integrity but can also influence future references or employment opportunities.
  • Stay Informed about Changes
    • Laws and regulations can evolve. Stay updated with any changes to the Danish employment laws, especially those that can impact your rights and responsibilities during notice periods.

Additional Resources

  • The Danish Legal Aid (Retshjælp):
    • Offers legal advice and consultation, often at a lower cost or free, depending on one's financial situation.
  • The Council for International Conflict Resolution (CICR):
    • Provides assistance in cases of disputes or conflicts involving international employees in Denmark.

ABOUT Frederik

Frederik is dedicated to helping foreigners living in Denmark get a good start. Whether you are a foreigner or working with them, you know how difficult it can be to find the correct information about your new home. Frederik is also from Denmark and now lives as an Expat in Thailand.

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