Legal Advice and Security

Working hours

What are the rules for overtime, part time, flexible hours and fixed salary in Denmark? Get an overview of the most important rules for working hours here.

Weekly hours in Denmark

Denmark has no general law on working hours. Instead your working time is determined by your employment contract, collective agreement or local agreement.

However, by law there are three rules on working time, breaks during your shift, and how much time off you are entitled to between shifts. 

If you are an academic employed in the public sector, your weekly working hours should be 37. However, you are obliged to work overtime to a certain extent. On this page, you can read about the most important rules for working time.

Maximal weekly working hours: The 48-hour rule

During a period of 4 months, your average working time per week cannot exceed 48 hours. Your weekly working time may be higher in some weeks if you are compensated by working fewer hours in other weeks. The 48 hours include overtime work.

Daily rest period: You must get 11 consecutive hours off every day

You are entitled to a rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours within a period of 24 hours.  

For certain types of positions, the rest period can be shortened, but never to below 8 hours. This exception is however rarely the case for IDA members. 

See typical exceptions to the 11-hour rule at (in Danish)

Twenty-four hour rest: You are entitled to a weekly full day off 

You are entitled to a weekly day and night time off. This means that you may not work for more than six days consecutively before you get a full day off. 

Is the lunch break paid in Denmark?

At most workplaces, the lunch break is 30 minutes. For public sector employees, the lunch break is always paid by the employer and counts as normal working time. This right can only be changed if the collective agreement is altered.

If you are employed in the private sector, your lunch break is not paid by the employer - unless this is stated in your employment contract or collective agreement.

Overtime work: Your rights and duties

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.

There are no set regulations for the notification of overtime work unless it is stated in your contract or an agreement. Essentially, this means that you may have to agree to work overtime with very little or no notice if you are asked to.

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.

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.

Log in and contact IDA's legal advisers

Overtime for public sector employees

If you are a public sector employee, you may be commanded to work overtime if this is necessary for your employer - also on evenings and weekends.

Overtime work for public employees is defined as work that exceeds the normal working hours, that is either imposed by the employer or necessary for the responsible carrying out of duties, and that has taken place over a period of normally 4 weeks or more. 

If the overtime work takes place in a period of time exceeding 4 weeks, you are entitled to renumeration in one of the following ways: 

  • Taking time off in lieu corresponding to the number of hours of overtime, including an added extra 50%.
  • A payout of the number of hours in salary, including an added extra 50%.

Exceptions: Employees in generalist positions with an obligation to work overtime (rådighedsforpligtigelse), special consultants and chief consultants are not entitled to renumeration for overtime.

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.

Read about pay and terms if you are employed part time

Part-time salary and rights

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.

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. 

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 and core time

Flexitime (flekstid) 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: No maximum for working hours 

The term ‘fixed salary’ (jobløn) means you do not have a specified maximum number of weekly hours, nor the right to time off in lieu or overtime payment. Fixed salary is introduced when 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 paycheck, but you do not know how many hours you have to work for your money.

Even though you have a set working time in your contract – 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 working hours exceeding the set working time. Can you take time off in lieu or get paid for extra working hours?

Contact IDA about working hours

As a member of IDA, you have access to counselling from our legal experts.

Contact IDA's legal advisers