Working conditions in Denmark – The Danish labour market model
How are your working conditions ensured while you are working in Denmark? And how does the Danish labour market operate?
When you apply for a Danish work and residence permit, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration has to make sure that your salary and other employment conditions conform to Danish standards before we can grant you a permit. You can read more about that here.
But, basically, it is not the Danish government that regulates the rules and conditions of the Danish labour market.
Since 1899 the Danish labour market has been regulated through collective agreements between employees and employers. As in other countries employees and employers in any given sector or line of employment are organized in associations. In Denmark these parties normally meet every second or third year to negotiate the renewing of conditions regarding terms of salary, pension, holiday and general labour conditions for the sector in question. The negotiation results are articulated in socalled collective agreements that constitute the foundation of rules of the sector for the next 2 or 3 year period.
It is not established by law that salary and employment conditions are regulated by collective agreements. Essentially, the system is based on the free will of the participants. For this to work, it is crucial that employees and employers are organized in strong associations with high representation of the relevant actors of the sector. Through membership of the associations, employees and employers are directly liable to the collective agreement. Violation of collective agreements can be brought either before a judical body known as the Danish Labour Court, or to an arbitration process (faglig voldgift) .
If an employer is liable to a given collective agreement, then all employees hired by the employer are covered by the agreement, regardless of whether they themselves are members of the union that signed the collective agreement.
If employees and employers, represented by their associations cannot through negotiation reach an agreement on the renewal of a collective bargaining agreement it can lead to a labour dispute. There exists an overall regulation of the process of such disputes. This regulation is articulated in the socalled basic agreement between the superior organizations of the employee and employer associations, The Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) and The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). The basic agreement entails among other things the rights to undertake collective action, such as strike, blockade and lockout etc. – but it also contains a system of advance warning which opens a reinforced negotiation process with the purpose of avoiding direct collective action.
Some labour market policy subject areas are regulated by law, such as working environment, employment policy and unemployment benefits. But also in these policy areas the the labour market organizations take part in a broader cooperation with the government – the socalled tripartite cooperation. The tripartive cooperation can also be activated on the completion of new policies of employment. An example of this is the new Basic Integration Training Program (IGU) for the enhancement of refugee employment in Denmark.
If a labour dispute continues without any prospect of resolution the government can intervene and resolve the dispute by law.
You can read more about the Danish labour market model and the properties of the Danish labour market on these sites:
Workindenmark – Rights and Obligations
IDA (The Danish Society of Engineers)
The Economic Council of the Labour Movement in Denmark