The Danish labour market

The codes can be tough to crack when you are trying to get a foothold in the Danish labour market as an international.

New to the Danish Labour Market

It can be challenging to settle into a foreign country and cultures, but it may be even harder to decode the written and the unwritten rules governing the labour market. At the same time, the workplace is also where you meet Danes on an equal footing and truly get the opportunity to become part of Danish society, learn the language and experience first hand what the Danish working culture is all about.

To glade mænd


The Danish Model

The Danish labour market is to a greater extent regulated by collective and voluntary agreements entered into by trade unions and epmployer associations rather than legislation. They negotiate salaries, working conditions and many other basic things without the intervention of the government. This is what is known as “The Danish Model”.

Another central element in the Danish Model is “flexicurity” – a term that means it is easy to hire and fire, while the unemployed are guaranteed a certain level of income. In Denmark, there are more than 950,000 job changes in 2022 amongst 3 million wage earners in Denmark. This means that there is high job mobility and job openings at all times.

Given that there is not a governmental model, you are best off informing yourself about the individual conditions under which you are or will be employed. You may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits if you lose your job. You are not automatically insured, so it requires membership of an unemployment insurance fund (a-kasse), where you can also find out more about the rules and rights in your given situation.

What is a trade union?

In Denmark, approximately 65% of the work force are members of a trade union such as IDA.

Trade unions are professional organizations that represent the interests of its members within the field of pay and employment, the labour market, career development and training. In essence, trade unions look after employees’ rights and negotiate salaries, benefits, working hours, etc., with employer organizations.

This also goes for academics and other high-income earners – including managers. It is due to the work of trade unions such as IDA that the conditions on the Danish labour market are so favourable in terms of things like salary, holiday and working hours.


How can IDA help me?

Use your trade union to skip frustrating and time-consuming steps in your life in Denmark. When you are an IDA member, we prep you for finding and getting ready for a relevant job in Denmark, whether it be your first job or a student job. You can also get information about your expected salary level for your profile and experience, as we collect data from our members, so that we have good insight into the market movements. We are also available for you if you need some insight into Danish working culture; if you for instance run into some unexpected issue with a co-worker or don´t understand unwritten rules that everybody else seem to follow. In essence, we help you navigate the Danish labour market.

What does the law say?

A few aspects of the labour market are regulated by legislation. In an engineering or technical job, you will typically be subject to the Act on Salary Employees (“Funktionærloven”). Moreover, we have the Holiday Act (“Ferieloven”) and Maternity/Parental Leave (“Barselsloven”).

They ensure your basic rights such as five weeks of vacation, the basic rigths to maternity/parental leave as well as paid sick leave. What your wage should be, however, it not governed by law. In Denmark wage is negotiated, and there is a principal of freedom of contract, which means that you cannot claim the right to a minimum wage. IDA helps you negotiate your wage and advises you as to what wage level to expect. More information is available at

Check your contract

When you get hired as a student assistant or for a full-time position you are entitled to an employment contract describing the applicable terms and conditions. Make sure that it includes a job description so that it is clear what you are hired to do. Also ensure that your salary and additional working conditions figure in the contract – for example that you are at liberty to take time off to attend exams, what your average working hours will be and so on. As a member of IDA you are welcome to forward your contract to us. We will go through the contract and give you feedback.

"Send your contract to me before your sign it. This will ensure you get the best possible terms and conditions of employment."
Juridisk rådgiver i IDA
Nana Elager-Sørensen