Working in Denmark

Coronavirus - what you need to know as an employee


The risk of more cases of coronavirus is high, and this also has an impact on Danish workplaces. IDA closely follows the recommendations of the Danish Health Authority. Read about the rights and duties you have as an employee.

The employer has mandated me to stay home – even though it is not possible to work from home - what significance does it have to my salary?

You are entitled to wages, since it is the employer who decided that you should not show up for work.

Can I, as a public employee, be required to take time off in lieu of pay?

Public employees have been sent home with full pay, but must be available to their employers.

IDA considers the Prime Minister’s decision to send home public employees with full pay to mean that they are not required to take time off in lieu of pay or use their holiday during the period they are at home.

However, the employee must be available to the employer, and as an employee, you should expect to work while receiving your usual salary.

This means that you should, to the extent possible, carry out all tasks that can be completed from home to the extent required by your employer. You must be available to your employer during the periods where you do not have any tasks.
With regard to time off in lieu of pay during the first 14 days, the indication is that there must be very serious grounds for implementing time off in lieu of pay in connection with being sent home during the Corona crisis.

However, it is possible if both parties agree to make use of this option. In IDA’s opinion, an example of serious grounds could be that the employer does not have any tasks to assign the employee and the employee therefore does not have to be available. In such cases, any saved time off in lieu of pay may come into play.

In general, a public employer can request that employees use flextime during their stay at home. However, this requires that the employee notifies the employees of when they can use their flextime and that the employee not be expected to complete tasks or be available to the employer during that time. Furthermore, all notification regulations included in local flex agreements must be complied with.

Example: If an employee has accrued 37 hours of flextime, it would make sense for the employer to assign tasks and expect responses to emails and phone calls during the first week, and then request that the employee uses their accrued flextime during the second week during which the employee is not assigned tasks or expected to respond to emails or phone calls.

However, if the employer assigns tasks that have a deadline in 14 days and expects the employee to be available via email and telephone during the full 14 days while also requiring that the 37 hours of flextime be used prior to returning to work, then that would not be acceptable. If you are off the clock, then you are off the clock.

Can a public employer request that I use flextime even though I don’t have any outstanding flex-hours?

If you are a public employee and your employer asks you to go into a loss on your flextime-account (because the flextime agreement states that you can have a loss), then please contact your local union representative or IDA. According to IDA, such a request is not in harmony with the Prime Minister’s decision to send public employees home with full salary until 30 March.

Can a private employer send me home and request that I use flextime even though I don’t have any outstanding flex-hours?
Employers can use the current situation to request that private sector employees use flextime - at least until their flextime account hits zero, unless other agreements apply, such as a flextime agreement/collective agreement.

For example, if a flextime agreement states that your flextime-account can have a loss of 10 hours, then you should not be required to go into loss beyond those 10 hours.

If you consent to using additional flextime hours, then you should request that any hours in loss not be deducted from your salary if you are terminated or if you hand in your notice before those hours are earned back.

We recommend contacting IDA if your employer instructs you to use flextime to the extent that you begin to go into loss.

Can my employer mandate me to take a holiday?

The employer can give notice that holidays are to be taken. Main holidays should normally be notified with three months prior to the holiday itself and the remaining holiday with one month prior to the holiday itself.

In the case of special circumstances, the above-mentioned notifications may be waived. Special circumstances may, e.g. be interruption of operations that the company could not foresee. In a situation, where the company's operations are likely to be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus, it cannot be denied that it is possible for the employer to mandate you to take a holiday at a short notice. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend that you contact IDA.

The shortened notice must be of at least one day's notice, so the holiday can be started at the earliest the day after the notice.

It is IDA's recommendation that holidays be taken as agreed.

Is my employer allowed to reschedule my planned vacation?

No, in general employers cannot change vacation that have already been planned. Changes in vacation must be motivated by significant, extraordinary/unforeseen, and operational concerns – a force majeure like situation.
 
A condition for rescheduling planned vacation, should be the possibility to carry out the vacation before the end of the vacation year on April 30th.
 
If your employer wishes to reschedule or cancel your planned vacation, please contact IDA.

Can I demand to work from home if I need to look after my child because my child's day care or school is shut down?

As a rule, it is your own responsibility to find care for your child and you are thus required to come to work even if you are unable to find care for your child. It is an extraordinary situation when the prime minister shuts down day cares and schools, and IDA therefore urges that you make arrangements with your employer to work from home as much as possible, while day cares and schools are shut down or alternatively that you can take your child with you to work if it is not possible to work from home.

Can my employer reschedule my holidays that are already scheduled?

No, it is not possible for the employer to change any holiday that is scheduled unless there is force majeure.

If the employer wants to reschedule or cancel your holiday that is already scheduled, you must contact IDA.

Can my employer mandate me to take flexible time off/time off in lieu of wages/special holidays?

Yes, it is possible for the employer, without notice, to mandate you to take flexible time off or time off in lieu of overtime.
The employer may also mandate you to take special holidays without notice.
If your contract, collective agreement or employer guidelines state that special holidays are in accordance with the Holiday Act’s rules on residual holiday entitlement, the employer can still mandate you to take those days off. However, the employer must give a minimum notice of one day.

Am I entitled to reschedule my already planned holiday if my colleagues are sent home?

No, it is not possible to reschedule an already planned holiday so that it can be held at a later date.

Can my maternity leave be changed/postponed?

It is not possible for the employer to change or postpone your maternity leave unless you have an agreement. If your colleagues are sent home, this will have no effect on your maternity leave.

Can I refuse to come to work because of fear of infection?

In general, you cannot refuse to come to work because of fear of getting infected by the coronavirus. In that case, it will be considered an illegal absence that may result in a justified dismissal.

Can I demand to work from home?

If you normally don’t work from home, you may only demand to work from home if you have agreed on this with your employer.

Do the rules for how to organise a workspace at home still apply?

The rules concerning how to organise home workspaces are being challenged these days, now that many of us are working from home because of the Corona crisis.

The Danish Working Environment Act distinguishes between working from home and having a remote workspace at home.
Working from home is when you on average work at home less than one day a week. The Working Environment Act does not apply in this case.

But it does apply if you on average work remotely from home for more than one day a week.

The Danish Working Environment Authority has made it clear that this distinction will continue to apply during the current crisis. This means that your employer is obligated to comply with the Working Environment Act if you are ordered to work from home.

However, in practice, the Authority cannot enforce these rules in private homes, and this is why the Authority encourages employers and employees to find solutions together.  

“The requirements for remote workspaces still apply despite the current situation. The requirements are there to prevent injuries and physical discomfort, and they still apply. However, due to the current situation, which is expected to be temporary, we encourage employers, employees and the working environment organisations at their enterprises to all work together to find temporary solutions that work. Under normal conditions, the Danish Working Environment Authority does not perform inspections in private homes, and in the current situation, we will only be performing inspections in connection with serious accidents and complaints, and similar.”

IDA also encourages its members, union representatives and managers to work together to find solutions that not only will enable us to get our work done and look after our children, but also enable us to look after ourselves and each other.

Company initiatives - alternatives to dismissal

If you are asked to work less hours for less pay

Here is some advice from IDA's legal advisors about what you should be aware of if your employer asks you to work less hours for less pay.

Read the full article here

The tripartite agreement and salary compensation

In order to help financially hard-pressed companies and employees at-risk of being laid off, a new salary compensation package has been implemented. The package aims to minimise the number of redundancies that will occur as a consequence of the Corona crisis.

Companies that are hit hard financially by the Corona crisis and that are facing dismissing more than 30 pct  of their employees, or more than 50 employees, have the option of applying for salary compensation from the government.

The salary compensation will be 75 pct of payroll costs for a salaried employee (but max. DKK 23,000 per month) and 90 pct of salary for an hourly worker (but max. DKK 26,000 per month).

Conditions for salary compensation are as follows:

  • The employee must be sent home with full salary and cannot work during this period.
  • The company may not dismiss employees for financial reasons during the period the company receives salary compensation.
  • The company may not use other options for sending home an employee without salary.
  • The employee must use holidays and/or time in lieu of wages for a total of 5 days during the period - the company will not receive salary compensation for those days.
  • The company can only receive salary compensation for a maximum of 3 months in the period from 9 March to 9 June.
  • The affected employee must have been employed prior to 9 March.

The financially hard-pressed company must state and substantiate the period during which it expects a lack of work. Following this, with the aid of an auditor, the company must document that employees were sent home during the period in which the company received salary compensation.

Travelleling and business trips

Can I refuse to go on a business trip?

If you are employed in a position that normally entails business travel, you can only refuse to go on the business trip if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travelling to the country/region in question.

Can my employer mandate me not to go on holiday to exposed countries/areas?

No, your employer cannot prohibit you from travelling to exposed areas in, for example, China or Italy.

Can my employer ask me about my recent trip abroad?

Your employer may require that you report whether you have stayed in countries/regions that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travelling to.

Can my employer mandate me not to come to work if I have been to an exposed country/region?

Yes, your employer may, for a limited period of typically 14 days, mandate you not to come to work if you have been to an exposed country/region. You are entitled to normal wages during this period.

What if I get quarantined?

If you are quarantined or placed in confinement by a doctor or the authorities, you cannot come to work. You should notify your employer of this and offer to work from home.

If you are infected with the coronavirus, you are sick and as a salaried employee, you are entitled to salary payments.

If you are quarantined without being infected with the coronavirus, your right to salary payment may depend on whether the quarantine is due to a business trip or a private holiday.

If the quarantine is due to a business trip, as a salaried employee, you are entitled to salary payment.

If the quarantine is due to a private holiday, as a salaried employee, you are also presumably entitled to salary payment, unless you have travelled to an exposed country/region despite the travel advisory issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

What if I am prevented from returning home from a business trip due to the coronavirus?

Your employer is responsible for your stay during a business trip. If you are prevented from returning home due to the coronavirus, your employer must pay you normal wages and cover all expenses for the extended stay.

IDA Forsikring

Read more on what you need to know if you are required to travel.

Counselling

Write to or call IDA
If you need advice and assistance, IDA's lawyers are ready to help. Write to us - safely and securely - through our contact form at My IDA.

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