The law does not mandate a national minimum wage, and unions and employer associations negotiated minimum wages in collective bargaining agreements. The average minimum wage for all private and public sector collective bargaining agreements was 110 kroner ($16.50) per hour, exclusive of pension benefits. The law requires equal pay for equal work; migrant workers are entitled to the same minimum wages and working conditions as other workers.
Workers generally worked a 37.5-hour week established by contract rather than law. Workers received premium pay for overtime, and there was no compulsory overtime. Working hours were determined by collective bargaining agreements adhering to the EU directive that an average workweek not exceed 48 hours. These agreements also provided workers at least five weeks’ paid vacation per year.
The law prescribes conditions of work, including safety and health standards, and authorities enforced compliance with labor legislation. Minimum wage, hours of work, and occupational, safety, and health (OSH) standards were effectively enforced in all sectors, including the informal economy. Penalties for OSH violations, for both employees and employers, include fines or imprisonment of up to one year. The penalty may be increased by two years if the violation resulted in a serious personal injury or death. In specific cases of OSH violations that are subject to only fines, the Minister for Employment may lay down regulations on how the DWEA may, in the notification of a fine, declare that the case may be settled out of court. These penalties were considered sufficient to deter violations.
The Ministry of Employment is responsible for the framework and rules regarding working conditions, health and safety, industrial injuries, financial support, and disability allowances, as well as enterprise placement services. The DWEA is the agency under the Ministry of Employment responsible for enforcing health and safety rules and regulations. This is carried out through inspection visits as well as guidance to companies and their internal safety organizations. The DWEA’s scope applies to all industrial sectors except for work carried out in the employer’s private household, work carried out exclusively by members of the employer’s family, and work carried out by military personnel. In certain sectors regulation and enforcement has been devolved to other authorities: the Danish Energy Agency is responsible for supervision of offshore installations, the Maritime Authority is responsible for supervision of shipping, and the Civil Aviation Administration is responsible for supervision in the aviation sector.
The DWEA has authority to report violations to the police or the courts if an employer fails to make required improvements by the deadline set by the DWEA. Court decisions regarding violations were released to the public and show past fines of 2,500 kroner ($375) to 40,000 kroner ($6,000) imposed against noncompliant companies or court-ordered reinstatement of employment. Greenland and the Faroe Islands had similar work conditions, except in both cases collective bargaining agreements set the standard workweek at 40 hours.
Workers can remove themselves from situations they believe endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in these situations. The same laws protect legal immigrants and foreign workers and apply equally to both categories of workers.
In 2015 the DWEA employed approximately 600 OSH inspectors and staff who carried out 17,391 workplace inspections. The number of labor inspectors was considered sufficient to enforce compliance. The DWEA effectively enforced labor health and safety standards in all sectors, including enforcement of limiting the hours worked per week.
Vulnerable groups generally include migrant and seasonal laborers, as well as young workers.
In January the DWEA increased monitoring of companies found with serious infractions through closer supervision of the company’s work and labor practices as well as improved dialogue with the company’s employees and supervisors in order to eliminate OSH risks. In the lead-up to the summer fruit harvest season, the DWEA, in coordination with the National Police and the tax authority (SKAT), increased inspections of fruit and vegetable farms that typically rely on seasonal foreign labor to ensure that labor and tax laws were being followed. This was the fourth season that the DWEA carried out such joint action. In 2015 there were 61 joint agricultural inspections, while in 2014 there were 47 joint inspections. The DWEA also increased inspections in the construction, agriculture, forestry, and fishery sectors, the sectors with the highest OSH violations. In 2015 the DWEA carried out inspections in 1,980 businesses in the agriculture, forestry, and fishery sectors, while in 2014 the DWEA inspected 1,945 businesses. In 2015 the DWEA also inspected 2,188 construction sector businesses, while in 2014 it inspected 1,924 businesses. In July the DWEA established a hazardous substances hotline where workers can call in with questions on the proper handling and regulations for working with epoxies, isocyanates, as well as other carcinogenic and allergenic chemicals.
As part of an EU-funded project, the Center for Human Trafficking in coordination with the DWEA identified risk factors related to human trafficking in the hotel sector and developed and publicized guidelines for the hospitality sector to assist employers prevent labor exploitation. SKAT and the DWEA have carried out training of inspectors to identify possible labor trafficking victims based on working conditions.
The majority of informal work occurs in restaurants, hotels, and household cleaning services, as well as with seasonal agricultural workers. There have been growing concerns in media and rights groups regarding the exploitation of au pairs, since under labor laws au pair work is considered work carried out in the employer’s private household. According to Immigration Service statistics, 1,624 au pairs were granted visas in 2015 with the majority arriving from the Philippines.