Denmark Work Culture

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To succeed in business in Denmark, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture. As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about the Danish work culture, we want to support your Global Expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all aspects of the work culture in Denmark to start your expansion well-informed.

Work Culture in Denmark

Denmark is one of the European Union’s strongest economies and most attractive locations for companies launching expansion among the EU’s 27 nations. Denmark welcomes foreign investment and international companies and is ranked as the 36th strongest economy in the world, based on GDP predicted to exceed 392 billion US dollars in 2021. The World Bank rates Denmark No. 1 out of 190 nations for ease of trading across borders, fourth in the world and the best in Europe for ease of doing business, although only 45th for ease of starting a business.

Industry and the service sector employ the vast majority of Denmark’s workforce, in education, engineering, IT, medicine and healthcare, pharmaceuticals, shipping, iron and steel, renewable energy, electronics, food products, clothing and textiles. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the market. Danes have also earned the title of the world’s happiest people, but the laid-back work culture is bound to present new challenges for companies moving into the Danish economy. We have listed a few tips on taking the right steps and avoiding the pitfalls, to make your orientation into the work culture of Denmark smoother:

Language: Danes are realistic regarding the small number of Danish speakers globally, around six million. Even so an interpreter is advisable if you are not fluent in Danish and cannot be sure your counterparts are fluent in English.

Contact: When making an appointment, it is recommended to confirm it in writing – best not just ‘drop in’.

Business Meetings: Provide an agenda, as Danes will expect to stick to it. Present organized and factual proposals, with facts, figures, and charts. Expect direct questions and be ready to answer them.

Business Environment: Managers expect staff to show initiative and take responsibility for their role. Danish offices do not generally feature a steep hierarchical structure, but rather a gentle incline between staff and managers.

Negotiations: Humor is a welcome antidote to defusing any stress – even with a touch of irony or sarcasm. Danes are ready to laugh at themselves.

Punctuality: Be on time for meetings! Danes like to stick to a schedule and are not that laid back. Even if you expect to be only 10 minutes late, call to advise.

Greetings: Firm, brief handshakes, maintain eye contact. Introductions with title and surname, but first names will quickly follow.

Business Cards: Expected, with name, title, and full office address.

Dress Code: Dress smartly, but this is not an overriding important issue, as modern businesses are embodying more of a “smart casual” dress code, especially amongst younger companies.

Sealing the Deal: There will be a lot of consultation and opinion-sharing after the meeting – do not expect to walk away with a decision.

Denmark Minimum Wage

Denmark does not have a mandatory national minimum wage, with rates negotiated between employer associations, trade unions and CBAs. The monthly average minimum for 2021 was around DKK 40,600 (€5,456, US$6,350).

Probation Periods in Denmark

No legislation covers probationary periods but up to three months is allowed for white-collar workers under the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven). Employers should give 14 days’ notice if employment is terminated during probation although employees need not give notice unless previously agreed. Hourly-paid (blue collar employees) and CEOs have no maximum trial period unless covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Working Hours in Denmark

Typically, a working week average 37 hours over five days, usually covered by collective or contractual agreements and should include a 30-minute rest daily. The EU’s Working Time Directive which is applied in Denmark by the Working Environment Act decrees that the average working week cannot exceed 48 hours (including overtime) averaged over four weeks.

The Act also stipulates that:

  • A minimum of 11 hours daily rest away from work, with a break for a shift exceeding six hours
  • No more than six workdays between two days off
  • Night workers must not average more than eight hours each 24-hour period

There are exceptions and some industries may apply different working hours and breaks, for example, agricultural workers and those caring for people, animals, or plants.

Overtime in Denmark

There is no mandatory regulation to pay employees overtime in private businesses and generally, employees are expected to work without extra payment unless contractually agreed. Blue collar workers are usually covered by collective agreements for paid overtime or given time off as recompense. Employers contractually agreeing to overtime generally pay 1.5 times the normal hourly rate for the first three hours, then twice the rate for extra hours or working on weekends or public holidays.

Notice Periods in Denmark

Notice periods apply to both employer and employee as agreed in the employment contract or Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA). Notice periods are also governed by years of service from one month for the first year, up to six months for over nine years’ service during which they receive their salary. Individuals not covered by the Salaried Employees Act or a CBA are still entitled to receive a reasonable period of notice and notice pay, depending on the type of work and their length of service. Employees who resign must give at least one month’s notice.

Redundancy, Termination / Severance in Denmark

There is no statutory law on severance pay.

Those covered by the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven) who have been in continuous employment for between 12 to 17 years are entitled to a severance payment of between one to three months’ salary if dismissed by the employer.

Some Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) provide for improved terms. Redundancy only applies if several employees are affected, and certain conditions apply under the Act of Collective Redundancies.