EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Aalborg University, Denmark: Exit policy and flexible working


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Target Groups: 
Other non-manualProfessional/managerial
Initiative Types: 
developmentetcExit PolicyFlexible working practicesTrainingWage Policy


Reduced working hours and other flexible working practices for senior employees


A formal written down senior policy has been made to secure better working arrangements for the senior employees at the university

Organisational background

Aalborg University was established in 1974 and encompasses three faculties (the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering, Science and Medicine). Under these faculties all research and educational activities take place, and each faculty is organised into a number of departments, centres and schools, which work with specific scientific areas within the faculty’s main areas. Aalborg University is a self-governing institution within the public administration and under the supervision of the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. Over the years, Aalborg University has grown to become a large, well-established research and teaching institution in Denmark. The purpose of the university is to conduct research and provide research-based education at a high academic level. Close to 14,000 students are enrolled at Aalborg University.

Aalborg University employs approximately 2000 people. The employees can be divided in to categories: the “scientific personnel” (professors, associate professors, research assistants ect.) and the “technical or administrative personnel” (secretaries, administrative personnel, cleaning operatives etc.). Approximately one third is technical or administrative personnel and two third is scientific personnel. A relatively high percentage of the employees are above the age of 50 especially among the scientific personnel and therefore the university expects that many of the employees will retire during the next ten years. Therefore, the university has focused on establishing a formal written down senior policy to make it attractive for senior employees to stay at work instead of retiring.

Most of the employees are affiliated with a trade union and there is considerable agreement between the workplace and the trade unions regarding work issues and policies.

Good practice today

The senior policy at Aalborg University is an integrated part of the personnel policy among every employee and is influenced by the values and attitudes of the work place. The purpose of the senior policy is to put focus on the conditions and possibilities of older employees both among the scientific personnel and the technical or administrative personnel. Aalborg University wants to create a working environment where every senior employee can decide to continue to work as long as they want or at least until the state pension age at 65 years. However, great age itself does not automatically mean that the employee has a need for changes in his or her working conditions, but as well as other periods of working life the last part must be planned in a positive dialogue between the employee and the employer. This policy means that before the employee turns 60 the employee and the employer will have a meeting where they discuss how the final years on the labour market should be planned and organised. If the employee wants it a senior plan can be drafted for the next years to come. The senior plan must be in the interest of the employee as well as the employer. The intention with the senior plan is that the employee is satisfied with the working environment the final years at the labour market and that the University ensures that the workplace creates an environment in which knowledge transfer is a natural part of everyday life. To ensure this it will often be relevant to discuss potential gradual reduction of work tasks and working hours including a timetable for when and how the retirement will take place.

The more specific intentions with a senior policy are to secure:

  • that the senior employee via further training remains active and qualified
  • that the senior employee who has work tasks that are hard to replace is motivated to continue to work as long as possible
  • that the senior employee is offered less straining working conditions and/or possibilities to work part time
  • that the senior employee is secured the possibility of voluntary retirement with the opportunity to continue to work few hours per week until retirement.

There are three different kinds of senior plans that can be offered if the employee and the employer want it. 1) gradual reduction in working hours, 2) transfer to a lower job position, and 3) retention programmes.

The fist of the mentioned senior plans offers the possibility for senior employees to have a reduction in the working hours. This special arrangement can be offered to employees who have been employed by the state for at least ten years and who have turned 60 years. The working hours must be at least 15 hours per week. For most employees it will be possible to be given the same additional retirement contribution from the workplace as if he or she still worked on a full time basis. This means that the financial conditions during retirement are not worsened as a consequence of the reduction of the working hours.

The senior plan with a transfer to a lower job position can be offered to senior employees who have been employed on a full time basis during the last ten years and who has had a position with managerial responsibility. The employee must be 55 years old when the senior plan is established. This senior plan gives the employee the possibility to transfer to a job with less responsibility and complexity. Often the employee is offered an additional retirement contribution from the workplace which means that the financial conditions during retirement are not worsened as a consequence of the new content of the job. Also, some employees are offered an additional pay supplement.

The last of the senior plans include retention of the senior employee. Aalborg University can offer employees who have turned 62 one day off per month with salary. The demands at work are reduced similarly. Besides that the university can make an agreement with the senior employee that he or she a given a bonus if the retirement is postponed.

Aalborg University is of the impression the senior policy ensures that more employees remain employed in the senior years. The university does not have any future plans according to developing their senior policy any further.

Further information

Human Ressource Manager, Britta Dorrit Graae. Tlf. +45 9635 9565, e-mail:

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