Advantages of Parental Leave in Denmark: What’s Changing in 2022?

Kristian Ole Rørbye


Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian is from Denmark but now lives in Thailand. As a foreigner in another country, he knows the need to get a good start, especially in finance, such as taking out loans, buying a car, and finding the best internet at a reasonable price.

Denmark’s parental leave system is flexible and generous.

Here you can read about the new rules, which apply if the child is born or received (by adoption) on or after 2 August 2022.

Bringing a baby into the world can be a huge responsibility Many new parents are struggling to cope with work and looking after their child, which can directly affect their performance at work and home.

This is why in Denmark, parents have the right to take a break from work to care for their child and spend time with their family after the birth of a child.

During this time, the employer can only terminate the employment relationship in the situation of the business shutting down or any critical conditions.

New moms in Denmark get 18 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, and the father can take two consecutive weeks off. After parental leave, both parents can return to work and work at the same level they did before.

Most companies will not only either parent to transfer complete parental leave to the other as it’s important for the child to have both parents to spend time with. 

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Key Takeaways

  • 18 weeks of paid maternity leave in Denmark
  • Two weeks of paid paternity leave
  • The new bill directs four weeks of paid maternity leave before childbirth
  • Parental leave is non-transferable for each parent
  • Parental leave is pronounced "orlov" or "barsel" in Danish

Who is entitled to parental leave in Denmark?

Employees with a Danish employment contract, whether full-time, part-time, fixed-term, permanent contract or even marginal employment, are entitled to parental leave.

This title also applies to trainees, interns, or freshers. Parental leave will start just before childbirth and range for a couple of months and can be taken until the child reaches the age of three.

People that are unemployed, self-employed, or students are not entitled to parental leave.

If both parents are employed, they can take parental leave simultaneously but cannot transfer the entire leave to the other since it’s important to have both parents take care of the child.

However, remember that parental leave is only available for working parents who live in the same household and need to care for their children.

You will need to apply for parental leave from your company, and depending on the type of organization you work for, there may be different durations or deadlines. 

How much allowance do parents receive in Denmark?

During parental leave, the precise conditions that apply to you depend on the agreement at your workplace and in your employment contract.

While some parents will receive their full salary from their employer during the whole or part of their parental leave, others may not receive a salary.

If this is the case, you can apply for parental allowance, which is a form of financial support from the government that compensates you if you temporarily work or don’t work after your child's birth. 

The allowance for parental leave is decided as a certain amount per week and depends on how much you work, your company, and your job type.

Some companies may even agree to allow you to draw your monthly salary continuously during parental leave, so it’s vital to check with your company and its rules and regulations. 

parental leave in denmark

Do families of international workers also receive a parental allowance in Denmark?

Citizens of other countries like Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and more can receive parental allowance only if they live and work in Denmark.

Even if you are a citizen of another country but live and work in Denmark, you are entitled to the parental allowance. However, keep in mind that you will not receive the parental allowance if you are a student visiting or vacationing in the country.

Most parental allowance offices or family portals are great places to approach as they will inform you of updated rules and regulations. You can even ask your organization what the rules are before joining. 

What does the parental leave process entail in Denmark?

The leave process in Denmark is fairly straightforward. In families where the parents are living together at the time when the child is born, each family is entitled to twenty-four weeks of leave with parental benefits after birth.

Maternal leave includes

Pregnancy leaves with parental benefits of four weeks before the expected date of birth and two weeks of leave with added benefits after the birth. This leave must be taken immediately and cannot be pushed further down the line. 

Eight weeks of parental benefits and leaves can be taken before the child is ten weeks old, and fourteen weeks can be taken before the child is one year old. 

Remember that the leave period can be extended or postponed if the organization allows it and the conditions are met.

Parental leave includes

New fathers can take two weeks’ leave with parental benefits after birth, which needs to be taken before the child is a year old.

In certain situations, fathers can take leave before the child is born if there are certain complications or special circumstances or if the mother gives birth after the expected date of birth. 

The leave period can even be extended more than two weeks depending on certain conditions or if work is partially resumed and agreed upon by the employer. Keep in mind that parents need to be living together to take parental leave so they can care for the child. 

If parents are not living together at the time of birth or if a parent is a single parent, then they are entitled to a whole other parental leave period, and this is to be determined by the company they work for. 

Can you transfer your parental leave to Denmark?

As parents, the state prefers that both parental figures take their allotted leave so the child can spend time with both parents.

However, in special circumstances, you can transfer weeks of leave to each other in a way that best suits your family and work life. 

Since parents are entitled to 24 weeks of leave and added benefits, some companies will not allow you to transfer the leave.

You can take it before the child turns a year old or forfeit it. For example, if both parents work in the same company as employees, one parent cannot transfer their leave to the other exceeding the allotted time.

The leave is lost if the parental leave isn’t taken and the child reaches one year of age. 

If you are in a situation that does not qualify for parental leave, you will not be able to take it. However, if the other parent works and meets the criteria, they can take the leave. 

Are there any special rules for parental leave in Denmark?

With the updated rules and regulations, certain conditions like adoptive parents, same-sex parents, solo parents, and rainbow families are allowed parental leave.

If close family members bring up the child, the immediate caretakers or guardians are entitled to certain weeks of parental leave. 

Keep in mind that this only relates to working people and depends on the conditions of the company you work for. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of Denmark's most asked parental leave questions and how to go about it. 

How long is paid paternity leave in Denmark?

Usually, paternity leave is for 24 weeks. However, this depends on the company you work for and the updated leave rules. Both parents must work and live together to apply for parental leave.

Can both parents take parental leave at the same time in Denmark?

Yes. During the child’s first year, there is an opportunity for both parents to take parental leave in the same period, and this leave needs to be taken by both parties and cannot be transferred from one parent to the other.

Can you travel during parental leave?

Yes. As long as you, your husband/wife, and the baby travel together, you don’t lose your parental leave benefits. This is a relief for parents that need to travel to see their family or loved ones. 

Does parental leave need to be consecutive?

Although you don’t have to take all your parental leave and benefits consecutively, you must take them before your child turns one year old. After that, you are no longer entitled to parental leave or any benefits.

The Takeaway

Now that you know everything there is to know about parental leave in Denmark, looking ahead, this conversation will continue to develop as more millennials become parents and are looking for that ideal work/life balance.

Parental leave in the coming years will be more compassionate, and flexible and make employees feel empowered to focus on their lives at work and home.

Kristian Ole Rørbye

ABOUT Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian is from Denmark but now lives in Thailand. As a foreigner in another country, he knows the need to get a good start, especially in finance, such as taking out loans, buying a car, and finding the best internet at a reasonable price.

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