Legal advice & security

Rules concerning illness of a child

What are the rules in Denmark concerning your child's first and second sick day? And are you entitled to paid leave if you take time off to care for your sick child? Get to grips with your rights here.

Child's first sick day

If your child becomes acutely ill, or if your child is injured in an institution such as a nursery, kindergarten or school, you have the right to take time off on the child's first sick day.

It is not precisely defined what counts as an acute illness.

Whether you can get paid on the child's first sick day depends on your employment contract, the staff handbook or your collective agreement. If you are not entitled to salary on the child's first sick day, your employer can deduct your salary for the child's sick day.

If you have the right to receive renumeration on your child's first sick day, the following rules typically apply:

  • The child must be under 18 years of age and need care during the illness.
  • You are the child's biological mother or father, adoptive parent or step-parent, or you have custody of the child.
  • The child is staying with you.
  • There are no others (e.g. another parent or a grandparent) who can take care of the child.

Only one of the parents is entitled to take the child's first sick day off. Both father and mother cannot therefore have the child's first sick day off during the same period of illness.

Remember to tell your employer as soon as possible that you are taking the child's first sick day.

If you leave your workplace during a workday to be with your ill child, it will in some cases count as the child's first sick day. In other cases, you are entitled to paid time off on the day in question and the day after. Check your collective agreement, contract or staff handbook.

Your employer can request documentation that your child is ill. If you have a lot of absence due to many child’s first sick days, this may count as reasonable grounds for termination.

Contact IDA's legal advisers if you are dismissed due to absence

Child's second sick day

In certain workplaces, you as an employee have the right to take the child's 2nd sick day off.

You can take the child's second sick day off in continuation of the child's first sick day, but you can also take the child's second sick day off without having taken the first. In this way, for example, the mother can take the child's first sick day and the father can take the child's second sick day.

Check your collective agreement, your employment contract, the staff handbook or your collective agreement to see if you are entitled to the child's second sick day.

Continued illness after the child's first and second sick day

Have you and your partner used your time off on your child's first and possibly second sick day and the child is still not well? Then it is basically your responsibility to find care for the child.

If you have no one else to look after the child, you can either take time off, use extra holiday entitlements (feriefridage), use your holidays or use care days to look after the child.

You can also try to make an agreement with your employer that you work at home at alternative times to look after your sick child.

Care days: Here are your rights (in Danish)

Serious illness in a child under the age of 18

If your child under the age of 18 becomes seriously ill, you are entitled to unemployment benefits if you do not work.

It is a condition that the child is in a hospital or similar institution for 12 days or more. Treatment at home can be equated with a stay in hospital.

You do not have a statutory right to leave in connection with a seriously ill child – whether you can get it depends on your collective agreement, employment contract or staff handbook.

If you have the right to take time off in connection with your child's serious illness, you can receive unemployment benefit during the leave if the following requirements are met:

  • The child must be hospitalised for at least 12 days in a hospital or similar treatment institution.
  • You stop working.
  • You meet the employment requirement that entitles you to parental leave benefits (barselsdagpenge).

See employment requirements for parental leave benefits (in Danish)

Chronic illness in children under 18 years of age

Do you have a child with a long-term physical or mental illness or disability that you look after in your own home?

Then you can get leave from your employer to look after your child full-time or part-time for up to a year. You can get compensation for lost income from your municipality.

Talk to your employer, your trade union representative or IDA and get help to make a good agreement.

Get legal advice from IDA

Read more about children with disabilities at (in Danish)

Children’s illness in connection with parental leave

If your child becomes ill and is admitted to hospital in connection with the birth or within the first 46 weeks after the birth/reception of an adopted child, you can extend the parental leave and the right to parental leave benefits by the number of weeks the child is hospitalised - but with a maximum to 3 months.

The extension applies to the parents together and not to each of the parents.

You can only extend the leave if you do not resume work during the child's hospitalisation. If you resume work, you can instead postpone the remaining leave until after the child has been discharged. In that case, the child must be discharged within 60 weeks from the birth/reception of the child.

If you are a father / co-mother on your 2 weeks' leave in connection with the birth, you can interrupt your leave to take leave of the 22 weeks' leave, as paternity leave cannot be extended. However, the 2 weeks' leave must still be taken within the first 10 weeks after the birth.

If you want to extend the leave, you must send documentation from the hospital, which shows the date of admission and discharge, to Udbetaling Danmark.