Industrial relations and social dialogue

Denmark: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019

A revision of the law on the working environment and the new Danish Employee and Competence Agency are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Denmark in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Revision of law on working environment

On 20 December, the Danish parliament passed a bill that makes changes to the law on the working environment. The revision of the law puts into effect the political agreement of April 2019.

The new law includes the following changes.

  • Sector-specific reduction goals: The national goals on reduction of musculoskeletal disorders, workplace accidents and psychosocial working environment will be outlined separately for each sector.
  • Competency acquisition : Businesses receiving an injunction obliging them to engage a working environment counsellor can now choose either to use such a counsellor to help solve the problem or acquire the competencies needed to solve the problem.
  • Fine increases : The amount of the fine for serious violations of the law will increase. This increase is expected to hit the construction sector hardest, where 75% of serious violations take place.
  • New data sources : The Working Environment Authority can draw data from other authorities and will have the right to share data with other authorities.

The changes will be enforced from January 2020. The political agreement from April 2019 and the revision of the law builds on the recommendations of the government’s expert committee on the working environment, which completed its work in September 2018. [1] One of the recommendations still to be implemented is a new consolidation act on the psychosocial environment. The first draft was released in December 2019, and it is expected to be passed in 2020.

New state employer agency created

In October 2019, the government closed down the Agency for Modernisation under the Ministry of Finance (Moderniseringsstyrelsen) that had been the state agency involved in collective bargaining in the public sector representing the Ministry of Finance since 2011. The former agency has been criticised, in particular by the unions, for not separating collective bargaining from the economic policy of the Ministry of Finance and for spearheading a rigid new public management policy during collective bargaining rounds. The government moved responsibility of collective bargaining on behalf of the state employer from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Taxation and created a new agency – the Danish Employee and Competence Agency (Medarbejder- og Kompetencestyrelsen). The agency will take over collective bargaining about wages and working conditions with the unions in the state sector. The new agency will encounter some of its first challenges in 2021 during the collective bargaining round in the public sector. To support employers, managers and employees in their tasks, the new agency will also ensure good framework conditions and develop both management and staff through a range of professional development and human resources initiatives and activities.

  • Danish Employee and Competence Agency: Vores opgaver


  1. ^ Eurofound (2018), Denmark: Latest working life developments Q3 2018 , 16 November.


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