This article provides a brief overview of the rules relating to part-time and fixed-term employment in Denmark.
1. The Act on Fixed-Term Employment
- Definition: according to the Danish Act on Fixed-Term Employment, “fixed-term employment” is employment where the expiry of the employment is determined by objective criteria, such as a specific date, completing a specific task or the occurrence of a specific event.
- The principle of non-discrimination: the Act stipulates that fixed-term employees may not be treated less favourably than comparable permanently employed employees solely because they are fixed-term employees unless the different treatment is justified by objective reasons. A “comparable permanently employed employee” is a permanently employed employee engaged in the same or similar work with due consideration to qualifications and skills.
- Participation in benefits: one of the consequences of the Act is that participation in benefits es-tablished by the employer (pension schemes, incentive programmes, etc.) may not be subject to the condition of the employee being permanently employed. However, it is not contrary to the Act if the employer demands that an employee must have certain seniority to be entitled to such benefit.
- Renewal of fixed-term employment: according to the Act, renewal of fixed-term employment must be justified by objective reasons. Objective reasons are for example unforeseeable absence such as sickness, pregnancy and birth.
- The consequences of non-compliance: an employee whose rights under the law has been in-fringed or who has been dismissed for having raised a claim under the Act may be awarded compensation. Further, if a fixed-term employee has been treated less favourably than a compa-rable permanently employed employee, for example a lower salary, the employer must pay the difference.
2. The Act on Part-Time Employment
- Definition: a “part-time” employee is an employee whose normal working hours are less than the normal working hours of a comparable full-time employee (usually 37 hours per week). A “comparable full-time employee” is a full-time employee engaged in the same or similar work.
- The principle of non-discrimination: the Act stipulates that part-time employees may not be treated less favourably than comparable full-time employees solely because they are part-time employees unless the differential treatment is justified by objective reasons. The principle en-tails among other things that part-time employees are entitled to participate in the employer's benefits (pension schemes, incentive programmes etc.) on the same terms as comparable full-time employees unless the differential treatment is based on objective reasons.
- Agreements on part-time employment: according to the Act, an employer and an employee are free to agree that the employee should work part-time notwithstanding the restrictions on such agreements in for example collective agreements.
- The consequences of non-compliance: in cases where an employee is dismissed because the em-ployee rejects working part-time or because the employer rejects the employee's request for working part-time, the employee is entitled to compensation. If a part-time employee has been treated less favour-ably than a full-time employee, for example by being paid a (relatively) lower salary, the part-time employee is entitled to the difference.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.