Legal advice and career

Fixed-term work and project employment: Here are the rules

Which rules apply if you are a project employee or a fixed-term employee in Denmark? How many times can your contract be extended, and can you be employed permanently after a fixed-term appointment?

Time-limited forms of employment, where you are, for example, in a maternity cover, temp job or project employment, where you are employed to complete a project or task, can be a good entry into a company, working life or a way of having some variety in your career.

As a general rule, you have the same rights as permanent employees, but you must be aware of special rules regarding termination, extension and parental leave.

What is a project employment?

A project employment is the same as a fixed-term employment. Both terms cover the fact that your employment ends at a specific time defined in your employment contract.

The duration of your employment may be limited by various criteria:

  • Your employment may end on a specific date.
  • Your employment may end when a specific task is completed.
  • Your employment may end when a specified event occurs.

What conditions apply to a project appointment?

You must have an employment contract when you have been employed for more than 1 month and have an average working time of more than 8 hours per week.

As a project employee, you are subject to the same salary and employment conditions as permanent employees. You must therefore not be offered worse terms of employment than a permanent employee in a comparable position, unless this is justified by objective circumstances.

You must always contact IDA if you are in doubt as to whether your terms of employment are reasonable.

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How many times can a project appointment be extended?

Your project employment can only be extended according to objective criteria.

A rule of thumb is that it is an objective criterion if the employer could not have planned their way out of the situation.

Typical examples of objective criteria can be:

  • That one more employee in the company is going on parental leave, is on sick leave or has been granted leave.
  • That the task cannot be completed within the planned time frame and without the project employee.

You may therefore be employed in several project positions one after the other - for example, by starting in a temporary maternity cover position and then being employed as a substitute for an employee on sick leave.

If, on the other hand, your employer extends your employment without it being justified by objective criteria, this is in breach of the Act on fixed-term employment. If that happens, you are entitled to the same rights as a permanent employee - including the notice of termination laid down in the Salaried Employees’ Act.

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Are you entitled to parental leave as a project employee?

If you are a project employee at a workplace with an agreement or collective agreement that ensures employees full pay during parental leave, you are also entitled to full pay when you go on parental leave.

However, after the date on which your employment ends, you are no longer entitled to full salary during your parental leave, and your employment will not be extended during the time you are on parental leave.

Read more about parental leave

What are your rights as a temporary employee in a company?

The terms for fixed-term employment can vary a great deal, depending on whether you are employed as a temporary worker in a company or via a temporary agency.

If you are employed as a temporary worker in a company, you are temporarily employed in another person's position. You will typically be a substitute for a person who is ill, on parental leave or has been given leave without pay for other reasons.

As a temporary employee in a company, you are covered by the same salary and employment conditions as a permanent employee. The only real difference from ordinary employment is that as a temporary worker you are employed for a limited period of time. If you are employed for a specific period, the employment ends without notice or separate termination at the end of the period.

If you are offered a permanent job as an extension of a temporary job at a company, you must be aware that your salary and employment seniority should be calculated from the start of the temporary job.

What are your rights as a temporary worker employed through a temp agency?

If you are employed as a temporary worker in a temp agency, you are employed by the agency to be sent out to other companies and work under their instruction.

If you are employed in a temp agency, you will not be covered by the provisions of the Salaried Employees’ Act. Among other things, this can have an impact on your notice of termination and your right to receive pay during illness. This is due to the special three-party arrangement, where the temp agency is your employer, while the authority to instruct lies with the company you are sent to.

In order to ensure better terms of employment, IDA therefore recommends that you include in your contract the fact that you are covered by the Salaried Employees’ Act.

The Temporary Employment Act has a principle of equal treatment, which means that in a number of areas you must be treated like the employees of the company you are working for. However, this principle does not apply if you are covered by a collective agreement in your contract with the temporary employment agency.

If you are offered employment with the company you work for while you are employed by a temporary agency, the temporary agency must not put obstacles in the way of this.

Special rules for state education and research companies

If you are employed in a government teaching and/or research company such as at a university, you can be extended a maximum of 2 times in a fixed-term position. This means that you cannot have more than 3 consecutive periods of employment.

On the other hand, there is no requirement for an objective justification for extending your employment.