Denmark: Tripartite agreement on integration of refugees

On 17 April 2016, the Danish government concluded tripartite negotiations with social partner confederations with an agreement on the integration of refugees. Those with no or few competencies are to be offered internships on apprentice wage level, combined with Danish lessons and the possibility for upgrading skills.

The Danish government invited social partners to tripartite talks on how to integrate the large number of refugees that were coming through Europe from the Middle East. The talks began at the end of February 2016, and on 17 March they reached an agreement on a platform for flexible integration of refugees in the Danish labour market.

The Tripartite agreement on labor market integration (PDF) contains, among other items, a joint proposal launched by social partners in the private sector – the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) – for flexible solutions to integrate refugees with no special or low qualifications into the labour market, as this group in particular has had difficulties in finding a job in Denmark.

So-called Integration basic training (IGU) aims at putting refugees into short-term jobs at an apprentice salary level of between DKK 50 to DKK 120 per hour (€6.72 to €16.13 as at 22 April 2016). The jobs can last for up to two years and refugees will also be offered skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks. IGU is implemented in legislation and does not require further implementation in the collective agreements since the pay rates are identical to basic vocational training (EGU) rates. Companies that hire refugees under the IGU scheme can qualify for a financial bonus of up to DKK 40,000 (€5,375) if the refuges are employed for two years.

The agreement also includes the intention to get refugees quickly into work after they are granted asylum, before the initiative is lost in red tape. For refugees seen as ‘job ready’ and capable of taking work on their arrival in Denmark, the asylum centre scans the competencies of the individual and sends them directly to the municipality with the relevant job (bypassing the job centre) to establish contacts and find a residence close to the workplace for the refugee, combined with Danish lessons preferably at premises close to or in the workplace.

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