Legal advice and Security

Working for a foreign employer

If you are employed by a foreign employer, you are responsible for negotiating your employment contract yourself. Read more about employment conditions when working outside Denmark and the terms IDA recommends paying special attention to.

Your rights when working abroad

In Denmark and the other EU countries, there are a number of minimum regulations that ensure workers' rights in areas such as termination, pay, compensation and much more.

If you are employed in a non-EU country, you must, on the other hand,  try to get the most advantageous terms possible when you negotiate your contract. At IDA, we recommend that you focus on the right to pay during illness and a reasonable notice of termination.

Extra holidays and days off in a foreign contract

At IDA, we typically find that foreign employers understand that their employees must spend time visiting family and friends in their home country. Therefore, you may well be able to negotiate extra holidays or days off.

However, you will have to adapt your demands to the norms in your new country of work, and these can vary relatively widely. In Europe, 5-6 weeks of holiday is common, while 3 weeks of holiday per year may be the best you can get in the US.

Self-employed when working abroad

You must be aware of whether your employer hires you as "self-employed", which is very common in certain countries. As self-employed, you are in effect a one-person contractor company that is employed to carry out a limited piece of work.

If you are employed as self-employed in a country where the social safety net is linked to the labour market, you must pay the full amount yourself to social safety schemes such as healthcare insurance.

Salary conditions abroad for local employees

If you are planning to work for a foreign company on local terms, the salary is of course a decisive factor. Although engineering salaries are always at the better end of the income scale, regardless of which country of work you are considering, there are surprisingly large differences from country to country, and sometimes even within the same country (e.g. in both Germany, the UK and the US). 

Salary is a product of ordinary market mechanisms, but it also reflects business structure, the state of the market, population composition, level of education, cost of living, income tax, level of social security etc. in the country of employment. It is difficult to achieve a precise overview of all this – also for IDA's advisers.

To make matters worse, it is really only in the Nordics that you have engineering unions such as IDA who prepare valid and easily accessible salary statistics for STEM graduates. 

Gather information via salary websites 

In some countries you’ll find websites with seemingly trustworthy salary information. Often, salary sites offer a paid online salary assessment - e.g. in the US and in Germany. IDA's members can safely use these two sites. IDA’s advisers are also sometimes able to give a fairly qualified estimate of salaries in a members' most common countries of work, based on our knowledge of salaries, income tax and living costs in the countries. But otherwise you must try to search for information yourself on the internet, among colleagues etc. 

Downscale your expectations to match local living costs

If you are going to a salary negotiation with a foreign employer, and you do not have a valid starting point for a salary claim, you can, try to start from an appropriate Danish salary after tax, which you scale down corresponding to the level of living costs and housing in the country of employment (they will almost always be lower than in Denmark).

You can possibly add an amount to cover travel to Denmark and tell the employer that you believe the net amount in question and a pension contribution are necessary to ensure a standard of living similar to that to which you are accustomed. 

Pension contributions and lower living costs

It is important to stress that the salary (neither the net nor the gross salary) is not the only aspect of your contract you should focus on. For example, your benchmark should not be whether you would be satisfied with the salary in Denmark. In many countries, the employer pays pension contributions that are above the 12-16% that an employer and employee in Denmark usually pay together.

In some countries, the employer contributes to transport to and from work. In most countries, the income tax rate is also below 35, and the cost of living below 80% of what they are in Denmark. With 65% of a Danish salary, you can very well have the same or a higher standard of living in the new country of employment than what you could expect in Denmark. 

Review your documents with IDA's experts

If you have received documents from your prospective foreign employer in the form of a contract, salary statement or offer letter/letter of intent, upload it to IDA so that we can review it together. Documents such as these will often also describe the value of any benefits during the employment abroad, such as the value of moving house, pension package, insurance package, paid schooling, full or partial payment of rent, etc.

Should you have a need for clarification on tax-related issues, we also have the option of referring you to IDA's tax hotline at Deloitte.

If you're interested in tax advice from Deloitte, please contact IDA via our online case form.

Contact IDA about tax issues when working abroad