Denmark: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017

Recommendations to position Denmark as a digital frontrunner in Europe, legislative proposals for health and safety and the terms of reference of the working environment committee are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Denmark in the second quarter of 2017.

Denmark as digital frontrunner

On 9 May 2017, the Digital Growth Panel delivered a series of recommendations to the Danish government. The Digital Growth Panel replaced the earlier Production Panel 4 in the autumn of 2016 (similar to Industry 4.0 in other EU Member States). The Panel’s vision is of Denmark as a digital frontrunner (PDF) – the first to take advantage of the benefits of digitalisation.

Denmark ranks high in international listings in terms of its use of digitalisation, especially in the public sector. However, Denmark has been slow to take up the challenges created in areas such as the ‘gig’ economy, big data and automatisation. In most European countries, national digitalisation action plans are already in place, with participation from social partners, ministries, innovative SMEs and universities. The Danish government has yet to implement a national action plan, despite a promise to do so in 2016. However, in November 2016, the government established a Disruption Council and, with the recommendations from the Digital Growth Panel, as of May 2017 an action plan is beginning to emerge.

The 33 recommendations from the Digital Growth Panel concentrate on four areas.

Digital competency for all: The panel recommends that information technology is made obligatory in primary school, and that the intake on education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in the IT-area is strengthened, combined with more focus on technical and digital research.

An attractive digital growth environment: The panel recommends that an international hub is created to deal with Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and big data.

A proactive framework for digitalisation: The panel recommends that a flexible approach be taken to regarding new digital technologies, products and business models, with the aim of not creating excessive ‘red tape’.

Digital 'responsibility and enthusiasm': The panel recommends a sustained focus on digitalisation, through an annual digitalisation summit and a roadmap for work on digitalisation by the relevant ministries.

The social partner organisations are, in general, positive about the steps taken towards a national strategy. The social partners are broadly represented on the Disruption Council. On the Digital Growth Panel, only the president and vice-president of the union side of the Co-industri negotiation cartel are members. Employers are also represented – by CEOs of some of the larger companies in Denmark.

Proposals for improved health and safety legislation

In June 2017, three legislative proposals in the field of health and safety were issued for consultation among businesses and the social partners. They are as follows.

The regulation of security zones around offshore installations: The proposal is to move regulation from the Danish Business Authority to the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstillsynet). In this way, Directive 2013/30/EU of the European Parliament and the Council on the safety of offshore oil and gas activities will be implemented.

The design of certain safety products: This will correct the current legislation with two new EU regulations, which includes regulations on personal protective equipment, such as safety shoes, helmets and protective gloves.

A change to the rules on occupational health and safety certificates: The legislation will implement a political agreement of November 2016 on a strengthened work environment certification.

Working environment committee to start work

The Q1 2017 report described the appointment of an expert committee on working conditions. The framework for the expert committee’s proceedings is now in place. It is expected to complete its work in the summer of 2018; it will then make recommendations on the working environment in Denmark.

Commentary

In the autumn of 2017, important tripartite negotiations will take place between the government and the social partner confederations about how to improve education and training, including continuing vocational training. The recommendations from the Digital Growth Panel and the emergence of the Disruption Council should, in part, help to focus negotiations on strengthening digitalisation in vocational training schemes and in primary and secondary schools.

 
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