Coronavirus – changes to rules on distribution of work

The Danish government has – as part of its coronavirus (Covid-19) measures – adopted changes to the executive order on payment of unemployment benefits to facilitate implementation of plans regarding distribution of work.

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A plan regarding distribution of work can be implemented in pursuance of the guidelines in the executive order on payment of unemployment benefits for a period of 13 weeks and will make it possible for employees to receive supplementary unemployment benefits during the period when the plan is in force.

According to the executive order on payment of unemployment benefits, the implementation of a plan regarding distribution of work is conditional on the plan being agreed in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or a joint agreement between the employer and all of the employees in the business, department or production unit covered by the plan.

Thus, in situations where an agreement on distribution of work concerns an area that is not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, it is a requirement that all of the employees in the business/department/production unit accept the agreement on distribution of work. Until now, agreements on distribution of work had to be reported to the local job centre no later than one week prior to the date when the agreement came into effect. This rule has now changed, so that the agreement on distribution of work can be reported to the job centre at the same time as the agreement takes effect.

In addition, the changes make it possible to alternate between the different work patterns that can be agreed as part of an agreement on distribution of work. This means that there will no longer be an obligation to follow the same work pattern throughout the term of the agreement on distribution of work, as long as the shift to another type of work pattern has been agreed with the employees.

The different working time models which, under the applicable rules, can be agreed as part of an agreement on distribution of work are as follows:

  • The working time is reduced by at least two full days per week
  • The working time alternates between one week of full-time work and one week with no work
  • The working time alternates between two weeks of full-time work and one week with no work
  • The working time alternates between two weeks of full-time work and two weeks with no work

The above list of potential working time models is exhaustive, and the same working time model must be applied in relation to all employees. However, the changed rules enable employers to shift between the different working time models – subject, however, to the modification that the term of one working time model (such as two weeks of full-time work and then two weeks with no work) must have ended before the employer can shift to another working time model, and any such change can only occur subject to agreement with the employees.

Employees who are covered by an agreement on distribution of work will be eligible to receive supplementary unemployment benefits if they are members of an unemployment insurance fund and are entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

The term of an agreement on distribution of work may go beyond 13 weeks subject to approval by the Regional Labour Market Council. It is, however, important to keep in mind that employees can as a maximum receive supplementary unemployment benefits for a period of 30 weeks.

When reporting an agreement on distribution of work, a special form, which can be found here (in Danish), must be used.

Norrbom Vinding is of course available to assist if you, as an employer, are considering the possibility of entering into an agreement on distribution of work.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.

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