Working Mothers in Denmark

Does the Law have provisions on maternity leave? Yes
What is the duration of maternity leave? 18.0 weeks
What percentage of the monthly salary does a worker get during maternity leave? 50  %
Who pays for maternity leave? Government
Does the law require that workers be protected from dismissals during the term of pregnancy and maternity leave? Yes
Does the law provide for the right to return to same position after availing maternity leave? Yes
Does the law require that pregnant and nursing workers must not be engaged in harmful work? Yes
Does the law require that pregnant workers be provided free ante and post natal medical care? Yes
Does the law provide for breastfeeding breaks for nursing mothers? No
Does the law require parental leave for parents? Yes
Does the law provide for paid or unpaid parental leave? Paid
What is the total duration of parental leave? 224 days
What is the wage replacement rate for parental leave? 100 % of normal wage
Who pays for parental leave? Government
Does the law require that parents with minor children or workers with other family responsibilities be provided with flexible time or part time work options? Yes

To comply with international standards, maternity leave duration should be at least 14 weeks and during maternity leave workers should be paid at least 67% of their wage.


More about maternity leave:

Women workers are entitled to maternity leave of 18 weeks/116 days (4-week prenatal and 14-week postnatal leave). The compulsory leave is two weeks after childbirth. A pregnant worker is entitled to take pregnancy leave from four weeks before the expected date of birth. Any unused prenatal leave is lost if employee gives birth before completion of this 4-week period. This prenatal leave may be started even prior to four weeks before expected birth if pregnancy is taking an abnormal course and continued employment might be harmful for the mother or child (according to a medical assessment) or the nature of work poses a threat to the child or prevents an employee in carrying out her usual job (due to public authority requirements) and the employer is unable to find alternative employment for the pregnant employee.

After the child birth, a worker first takes two weeks of compulsory leave and is then entitled to 12 further weeks (14 weeks of post-natal leave). There is no entitlement to maternity leave based on multiple births. Post-natal leave is however extended if a child needs to stay in hospital for longer than 14 weeks. If a worker on maternity leave dies or falls sick and is unable to take care of the child, the leave entitlement is transferred to the father.

There are no qualifying conditions for maternity leave. However, a pregnant worker is required to inform the employer about her plan to take pre-natal leave at least three months before the expected date of birth. Similarly, a woman worker must inform the employer about her expected date of return to work within eight weeks after birth.  

In the event of adoption, both of the adoptive parents are entitled to take 4-week pre-adoption leave before they receive the child (if child is being adopted from a foreign country). This pre-adoption leave can be extended by 4 weeks if difficulties arise which are not attributable to adoptive parents. After adoption, only one of the parents is entitled to 14 weeks of post-adoption leave however both parents take two-week post-adoption leave together at the same time.

Source: §6-8 of Consolidated Act No. 872 of 28 June 2013 on Entitlement to Leave and Benefits in the Event of Childbirth

During the term of pregnancy and maternity, a worker's entitlement to pay and benefits depends on his/her employment status. White-collar (salaried) employees receive 50% of their salary during pregnancy and maternity leave. Employers can receive reimbursement of this pay from the local public authority subject to a cap equivalent to statutory maternity benefit of DKK 4,075 (in 2014).

A female salaried employee is entitled to full salary during the period from the start of pregnancy until the start of maternity leave if she is on leave because employer cannot transfer her to another job where there is no or less risk to her and her child's health.

During the term of maternity leave, a blue-collar worker is not entitled to pay from the employer. Rather, they are entitled to maternity benefits from the local public authority. The rate of maternity benefit depends on a blue-collar worker's pay however is capped at DKK 4,075 per week in 2014. To qualify for maternity benefits, a worker must have been in employment for at least 13 weeks and have worked at least 120 hours during this period. A person who has just completed a vocational training program for a period of at least 18 months or who is doing a paid work placement as part of a vocational training program is eligible for the cash benefit. Unemployed and people on sickness benefits are entitled to this benefit as well.

The cash benefit is funded by the state from general taxation.  Government pays 100 per cent of the local authority’s expenditure on maternity benefit and other benefits except when an employee is on leave to care for seriously ill child (in this case, only 50% of local authority's expenses are reimbursed).

Source: §35-42 of Consolidated Act No. 872 of 28 June 2013 on Entitlement to Leave and Benefits in the Event of Childbirth; §7 of the Act on the Legal Relationship between Employers and Salaried Employees

More about parental leave:

Every employee has the individual right to parental leave of 32 weeks in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. Worker is required to notify the employer within 8 weeks of the birth of the child about the commencement date of leave and duration of absence.

The 32-week period can be extended to 40 weeks (for all) or 46 weeks (for employees only). Both parents can take the leave at the same time. The mother may start parental leave at the end of maternity leave, i.e., after 14 weeks of child birth. The father may start leave during this 14 week period. Parental leave is usually taken immediately after birth (for father) or end of maternity leave (for mothers). One of the parents may postpone his/her parental leave of 8-13 week duration and take it at a later date before a child reaches the age of nine years.

Although employee can take individual parental leave, however the parental benefit is not paid individually rather it is a family entitlement. The local authority pays 32 weeks of parental benefits to both parents jointly. Parental benefit is calculated similarly as maternity benefit. Even if parents have decided to extend leave to 40 or 46 weeks, only 32 weeks are fully paid. However, 32 weeks' worth of benefits can be paid at a lower rate over the extended period. 

Sources: §9-12 & 21 of Consolidated Act No. 872 of 28 June 2013 on Entitlement to Leave and Benefits in the Event of Childbirth