Legal Advice and Security

Working hours - Rules and regulations

In Denmark, working time is regulated by different rules and regulations. Get an overview here.

Weekly hours in Denmark

Denmark has no general law on working hours. If you are employed in the private sector, your working time is determined in the employment contract. Unless your workplace is covered by a collective agreement or local agreement, you must make an agreement with your employer about the hours you will be working. 

The legal framework for working time

However, by law there are three rules on working time; 'the 11-hour rule', 'the rule regarding one weekly day and night time off', and 'the 48-hour rule'. 
'The 11-hour rule' can be found in the Working Environment Act. The rule stipulates that the employee is entitled to 11 hours of rest within a period of 24 hours. 
The Working Environment Act further states that the employee is entitled to a weekly day and night time off. 
'The 48-hour rule' states that during a period of four months the average working time per week cannot exceed 48 hours. Thus, the weekly working time may be higher in some weeks if the employee is compensated with shorter working time in other weeks. This rule is originally from EU’s directive on working time. 

The rules for overtime work

You have to work overtime if you are asked to do so. You can only deviate from this main rule if something very urgent or pressing forces you to. Also, the more important the overtime work is to your employer, the more urgent your personal reasons have to be to refuse it.
Whether the grounds for refusal are important enough will always be based on a concrete estimation of the situation. Contact IDA if you are in doubt about whether you can refuse to work overtime in a specific situation.

Notice of overtime

There are no set regulations for the notification of overtime work unless it is stated in your contract or an agreement. Essentially, this means you must agree to work overtime without notice.
However, the shorter the notice, the less it requires for you to refuse to do it. Whether the notice and your reasons for refusal correspond to each other will always be based on a concrete estimation of the situation. Additionally, an evaluation of whether the employer at an earlier time could have/should have predicted the need for overtime work will be part of this estimation.

Payment for overtime work

You are only entitled to take time off in lieu or get paid for overtime when it is stated in your contract or an agreement with your employer. If you are a public sector employee, you are entitled to overtime pay if you have been commanded to work overtime (beordret merarbejde). In that case, the following rules apply:
Normally the salary is calculated in proportion to the reduced working time. E.g. if the working time is reduced with seven hours in a 37-hour job the monthly salary is typically 30/37. Notice, that going to and from part-time working hours can affect your holiday allowance. 
  • Municipality, government, region: Entitlement to time off in lieu of the same duration +50%. Optional payout in the event that the time off in lieu cannot take place. Same calculation.
  • Exceptions: Employees in generalist positions with an obligation to work overtime (rådighedsforpligtigelse), special consultants and chief consultants. Contact IDA for more information.

Part-time work

Part-time is when your working hours are shorter than the normal working hours at your workplace, which in Denmark is typically 37 hours per week. You must be employed for more than 8 hours per week to be covered by the Danish Salaried Employees Act.

Part-time salary

Normally, the salary is calculated proportionally to the reduced working hours. For example, if your working hours are reduced by 7 hours in a 37-hour job, the salary is typically 30/37. You should also be aware that transitions to and from part-time work may affect your holiday pay.

Rights as a part-time employee

It is illegal to discriminate against part-time employees. This means that as a part-time employee, you cannot be treated less favourably than your colleagues simply because you are a part-time employee. Nor can you be dismissed because you have either refused or been refused part-time work. You can find the full part-time law here.

Part-time and holiday

If you are employed part-time, you earn the same number of holiday days as a full-time employee. That is, 25 days of holiday, so that a normal working week with both working days and days off is included in the holiday with a proportional number.


Flexitime means that your working time may be within certain set intervals. Thus, your daily working time can vary according to your needs and your work assignments. With flexitime you can save up extra work hours for later time off in lieu – similarly it will often be possible to owe work hours as well. 
Most flexitime schemes have a core time and a flexitime. The core time specifies the period in which you have to be at work.
Flexitime indicates a certain number of hours before and after the core time where you can either be at work or take time off in lieu. 
Typically, there are rules for taking time off in lieu. Examples of rules could be whether you are allowed to take whole days off or only a few hours (e.g. outside the core time), and whether your manager has to approve it or you can manage it yourself. 

Fixed salary

The term ‘fixed salary’ means that management on the one hand want a fixed salary cost to calculate with, but on the other hand do not want an upper limit on your working hours.
This way you know the size of your monthly paycheque, but you do not know how many hours you have to work for your money.
Even though you in your contract have a set working time – e.g. 37 hours per week – you may still be employed on a fixed salary basis.
It is important what your contract says about compensation for work time exceeding the set working time. Can you take time off in lieu or get paid for extra work time beyond the set working time?
If nothing is specified in the contract you might be employed on a fixed salary basis. Notice, that there are different terms for ‘fixed salary’, such as ‘gross salary’ and ‘hired on a contract basis’. 

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