The Ultimate Guide to the Danish Labour Market - Part 1
The home of the Confederation of Danish Industries - Industriens Hus
Welcome to this months edition of our newsletter! And welcome to the ultimate guide to the Danish labour market - part 1!

This first part of our guide to the Danish labour market will focus on the system itself. How it was created and how it works. The second part, coming in the next newsletter will focus on the culture and environment of the Danish labour market.

The Danish labour market is something that the Danes are very proud of. The way we work individually and collectively is something deeply rooted in Danish society. It is embedded in both history and culture and the unique way in which it works, makes Denmark, statistically, one of the best places to work in the world.

The Danes will often refer to the organization of the Danish labour market as "den Danske model", The Danish Model. This describes the rather particular and rare way that Denmark has organized its labour market. The labour market is built on 4 pillars that define and describe how the system works:
  • High job mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Competitiveness
  • High quality working conditions

These four pillars and descriptors work together to create a balanced and strong system that some people think also plays a part in Denmark being one of the happiest countries on the planet. This all sounds wonderful, but how does it actually look, and how do the four pillars actually manifest themselves in the real world? This newsletter will take you through the history and characteristics of the Danish labour market, hopefully in a way that is easily understood and digested.
From the team at Expat in Denmark, Enjoy!

NB! At the bottom of this newsletter, we write about two free of charge webinars regarding the Danish tax system - Be sure to check it out and sign up.
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The Beginning of The Danish Model
The September Compromise - 1899
The inception of the Danish model has its humble beginnings over two centuries ago. To understand how and why The Danish Model works the way it does, we must first delve into the history of the Danish labour market. On a late summer day, the 5th of September 1899, the shoulders on which the Danish labour market stands today, were created. During a major labour dispute, which had started months before, in May, a decisive compromise was reached between the employees and the employers of Denmark.

Common recognition
The September Compromise meant that the Danish Employers' Association and the trade unions, representing the employees, mutually recognized each other as organized parties. Since its inception, this first compromise has been the basis of negotiations between the parties. The new agreements have come to be named "hovedaftaler", meaning main agreements. Although the collective agreements have evolved and adapted to the world they work in, they still work within the "law" of the original compromise. This is also why the September Compromise is often called the constitution of the Danish labour market.

The Results
The results of the compromise were manyfold, but the most important and decisive parts of it were as follows. The compromise recognized the employers' right to direct and divide the work. It also recognized the right to organize and unionize for the employees, and the right for the employees to take collective action, when dissatisfied. In essence, the September Compromise led to a common understanding of the ground rules in the Danish labour market, and thus effectively ended a tumultuous period with frequent labour disputes.

If you want to read more about the September Compromise and the history of the Danish model, click the button below.
A Unique Model
The Danish flag - "Dannebrog" Photo: Morten Clausen,
The Danish model is unique because the terms and conditions applicable to the employees have been negotiated by the labour market parties, i.e., the trade unions on the one hand and the employers' associations on the other. The parties negotiate collective agreements, which can determine e.g., minimum wages for particular areas and pension contributions payable to employees. Most employees in Denmark work under the rules of these collective agreements. This is not the case in most other countries, where rules on e.g., working hours, overtime work, notices of termination and wages are determined by politicians and put into statutory form through legislation covering all or parts of the labour market. The unique collective agreements in Denmark, thus give an opportunity for both employers and employees to work together to create the best possible working conditions in specific parts of the labour market.

Being part of something bigger
In Denmark, it is voluntary and common to be a member of a trade union or professional organization. In fact, 70% of Danish employees are members of a trade union or organization representing their specific professional interests. This means that Denmark has one of the highest unionization rates in the world.
Companies can become part of employers' associations and employees can become part of trade unions, that both represent the respective parties and negotiate on their behalf. In most other countries, collective agreements are not nearly as common as they are in Denmark. And the rate of industrial conflict incidents in Denmark is among the lowest in the EU.


Flexicurity is a portmanteau of "flexibility" and "security". The term is not particularly old, as it was coined by then prime minister of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, in the 1990's. It is however a useful way to describe how The Danish Model works in practice.

It means that employers can easily hire and terminate employment to adjust to the needs of the marketplace. However, it also entails that employees have a secure safety net in-between jobs. This creates a unique system which can accommodate the ever-changing needs of the employers while, at the same time, safeguarding the welfare of the employees.

Flexibility for businesses
As mentioned earlier, The Danish Model implies that the Danish Parliament does not interfere with the determination of terms and conditions applicable on the labour market (if the labour market parties are able to reach an agreement).
This is also the case in the individual workplace, as management and employees may agree on the rules that best match their specific relationship and conditions. For example, highly seasonal businesses (e.g., ice-cream shops) may agree on varying working hours to allow for peak season and off-season periods. Moreover, collective agreements vary from industry to industry, ensuring that the rules are adapted specifically to the different wants and needs of the market.

Security for employees
The Danish labour market legislation is structured to accommodate the flexible rules of the collective bargaining system and ensure that people who become unemployed are entitled to benefits and employment services and in many cases unemployment benefits through unemployment insurance funds, where employees can get up to two years of unemployment benefits.
Furthermore, the Danish government runs education and retraining programs and provides counselling services to get unemployed people back to work as quickly as possible.

An attractive place to work
The Danish labour market is a testament to the idea that a balance between labour market flexibility and job security can be achieved. The system is of course not without flaws, and it continues to evolve. There are however several benefits apart from the beforementioned to The Danish Model:
  • The flexibility for employers to adapt quickly and the security for employees create a resilient labour market. This resilience has been particularly valuable during economic downturns, helping Denmark weather the economic crises effectively.
  • Denmark consistently maintains low unemployment rates due to the active labour market policies, helping citizens return to work.
  • Employees in Denmark report high job satisfaction, largely due to the collective bargaining and security provided by The Danish Model.
  • The Danish Model has created an attractive destination for international professionals because it provides a safety net while encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

If you want to read more about the foundations and dynamics of the Danish labour market, click the button below, which will take you to an in-depth guide made by The Ministry of Employment
Free of charge Danish Tax Webinars (Q&As)
The Danish tax-system can be a bit of a challenge, that is for Danes and internationals alike. It is a complicated system, and you might find it hard to know where to even start. That is why we, at Expat in Denmark have teamed up with the Danish Tax Agency to bring you webinars where we will be available to help you out and answer questions you may have about taxes specifically or generally.
The webinars will be held in the form of a Q&A and there will be a mandatory video for you to watch before attending the webinars. Both webinars will be held with the upcoming preliminary tax assessment in mind.

It's time to review your preliminary tax assessment and make your final adjustments - but don't worry, because we're here to help you out and answer questions you may have about your preliminary tax assessment, or just in general about taxes.

The Danish Tax System Online Q&A will be held live on November 21 and December 6 from 17:00 to 18:30.

Prepare for the live Q&A by watching a prerecorded video on the Danish Tax system. Here, the Danish Tax Agency gives you an introduction to the Danish tax system including how your tax money is spent and how you pay the right amount of tax.

Watching the video before attending the live Q&A is a requirement to avoid repetitive questions so we can ensure the best possible event. Watch the video already by clicking here.

The Q&A will not be recorded and sent afterwards. You must log in live if you want to watch it.

Click one of the buttons below to sign up for a webinar!
Upcoming events for you
Central Jutland
Click the link above, to read more
Do you work in a multicultural environment? Or would you like to be better at bridging cultural differences at your workplace?

We all come with different norms, traditions, cultural mindsets, and perceptions. Join Headstart and investigate and understand what happens when people with different cultural backgrounds meet.

You will leave with a better understanding of how we navigate and enhance our intercultural competencies in a workplace environment to meet mutual understanding. The event will take place on November 6, from 12:30 to 15:00 at Rosbjergvej 33, 8220 Brabrand
Click the link above, to read more
The First Job Copenhagen is a free 5-day course in English aimed at giving international talents a greater chance of finding a job in Denmark. This job search course, which is a physical class, is for expats living in Greater Copenhagen or one of Københavns Erhvervshus' partner municipalities. Expats who are newcomers (3 years or less) to Denmark and hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

In these days you will learn more about how you can find your place in the Danish labour market.

The event will take place from October 30 to November 3, from 10:00 to 13:00, at Gammel Køge Landevej 43, 2500 Valby

You must register before 10:00 on the 26th of October to join. If you can't make it, there will be another event later in November.
Click the link above, to read more
This job search course is for expats with limited educational background living in Greater Copenhagen

Get started is a free 1-day course in English aiming at giving internationals a greater chance of finding a job in Denmark.

When you attend the job search course, you will learn about structuring your CV and cover letter and you will get a better understanding of the Danish labour market. You will be introduced to available jobs, and you will also have the opportunity to speak with a business consultant after completing the course.

The course is available once a month, next time on November 24, from 10:00 to 14:00, at Gammel Køge Landevej 43, 2500 Valby
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