Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Denmark

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Publication Date 11 March 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Denmark, 11 March 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b9e52fe87.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 11, 2010

Denmark, with a population of approximately 5.5 million, is a constitutional monarchy with democratic parliamentary rule. Queen Margrethe II is head of state. A prime minister, usually the leader of the majority party or coalition, is head of government and presides over a cabinet, which is accountable to the unicameral Folketing (parliament). The minority center-right coalition government led by the Liberal Party (Venstre) won a plurality of seats in the 2007 elections, which were deemed free and fair. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.

Reports of religious and ethnic discrimination against minority groups have remained relatively constant over the past several years, while domestic violence against women and trafficking in women and children continued to be reported.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Police shot and killed three persons in the line of duty, but preliminary investigations showed that none of these killings were arbitrary or unlawful.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions generally met international standards; however, authorities often held pretrial detainees together with convicted criminals.

The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits occurred during the year.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the national police, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

By law police are allowed to begin investigations and make arrests either without a warrant based upon visual evidence or on the basis of indictments filed by public prosecutors with the courts. In November parliament enacted permanent legislation in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that, among other provisions, extended from six to 12 hours the length of detention permitted without being brought before a judge and charged. A court may summon the accused to appear or order police to arrest the accused based upon an application filed by a public prosecutor. Apprehended persons were brought before an independent judiciary.

If an individual is taken into custody, the law provides for an initial appearance before a judge within 24 hours; however, noncitizens may be detained for up to 72 hours before being given a court appearance. Authorities generally respected the right to a prompt judicial determination. Detainees were informed promptly of charges against them. The country does not have a bail system; rather, a judge decides within 24 hours of detention either to release the detainee on his or her recognizance or to keep the detainee in jail until trial. According to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, of the total number of pretrial detainees in 2007, 89.5 percent served less than three months in pretrial custody.

A Ministry of Justice circular to police provides detailed rules and procedures concerning the rights of detained persons. They include the right to inform next of kin of their arrest, to contact a lawyer, and to have access to medical treatment. The circular specifies that arrested persons should generally be given access to a lawyer from the time they are brought to a police station. The government provided counsel for those who could not afford legal representation. The law does not allow any visitors during the first 24 hours of detention except for legal counsel. However, depending upon the charges, police generally did not restrict visitor access in practice.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence in practice. The judicial system consists of local courts, which hear cases in the first instance; two regional high courts, which address appeals; and the Supreme Court, which is the highest and final court of appeal.

Trial Procedures

The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Trials are public. Juries are required for criminal cases in which the maximum penalty is greater than four years' imprisonment. The law provides for defendants' right to timely consultation with an attorney, at public expense if needed. Defendants have the right to question witnesses against them and to present their own witnesses. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government evidence relevant to their case. The right of appeal is automatic and encompasses both procedural matters and sentences imposed. The law provides that criminal sentences can be increased when bias is proved as a motive. Bias can be based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, including access to the court system to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. There were no reported problems enforcing domestic court orders. In addition to judicial remedies, administrative remedies are also available.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and of the press. Individuals were able to criticize the government publicly and privately without reprisal.

The law prohibits any public speech or dissemination of statements or other pronouncements by which a group of persons is threatened, derided, or degraded because of their race, skin color, national or ethnic background, faith, or sexual orientation; offenders may be fined or imprisoned for up to two years. The law also prohibits "blasphemy" and provides that a person who publicly mocks or insults a legally existing religious community's tenets of faith or worship may be fined or imprisoned for up to four months. In a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published in August, authorities reported that in 2008 prosecutors brought charges of violating these prohibitions in four cases; two cases were settled with a fine and two had not been decided. Information released by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service explained that one of the cases involved a person in possession of flyers advocating beating to death immigrant Pakistanis and another concerned the hanging of a sign with offensive remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

Authorities continued to provide protection to cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 led to demonstrations in Denmark and in many Muslim countries.

Internet Freedom

There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. However, some observers contended that a system designed to block child pornography mistakenly blocked other sites. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008, approximately 84 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet. Government statistics published in July indicated that 86 percent of the population had Internet access in their homes.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. On December 12, a large demonstration during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen threatened to become violent. Using the new 12-hour detention authority, police detained nearly 1,000 persons involved in the demonstration; most were released without charge the following day.

c. Freedom of Religion

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the official state church and enjoys some privileges not available to other faiths, such as receiving state subsidies directly through voluntary tax payments.

Members of other faiths, notably Catholics, have asserted that the system is unfair and that, although the government provides religious freedom, it does not provide religious equality. Allowing other religious organizations to be given the same status and privileges as the Evangelical Lutheran Church would require changes to the constitution. While the government does not require the licensing of religious groups, government recognition is required for religious ceremonies, such as weddings, to have civil validity or for religious groups, which numbered more than 100 at year's end, to receive tax exemptions.

Religious history, with special emphasis on the Evangelical Lutheran faith, was taught in public schools, but students could withdraw from religious classes with parental consent.

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

There were isolated incidents of societal abuses and discrimination, including anti-immigrant (mainly Muslim and African) graffiti, desecration of ethnic minority gravesites, and low-level assaults, as well as some denial of service and hiring on racial grounds. Societal discrimination against religious minorities was difficult to distinguish from discrimination against ethnic minorities. The government condemned the incidents, investigated several, and brought some cases to trial.

Reports continued of desecration of graves of the religious majority and those of ethnic and religious minorities; however, centrally compiled statistics are no longer available.

The Jewish population was estimated at 7,000 persons. There were isolated incidents of anti-Semitism, apparently perpetrated primarily by immigrants, according to victims' reports. Most incidents involved vandalism, such as graffiti, and nonviolent verbal assaults. In 2008 there were nine reported cases of religiously motivated crime, at least one of which involved anti-Semitic graffiti.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

The constitution and law prohibit forced exile, and the government did not employ it.

Protection of Refugees

The country is a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. Its laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice the government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

In May the government concluded an agreement with the Iraqi government under which Iraq would take back those of its citizens who had been denied asylum based on safe country of origin. Authorities arrested and deported a few such individuals during the summer, while a group of approximately 70 Iraqis occupied a church in protest against their imminent deportation. Following consultations with a visiting Iraqi delegation, police entered the church on August 13, detained some Iraqis, and let others go. By the end of December, authorities had deported 47 of 242 rejected asylum seekers; 66 of the rejected asylum seekers remained in detention awaiting deportation, and 129 either went into hiding or left the country.

The government also provided temporary humanitarian protection to certain individuals who fell outside the definition of the 1951 convention and its 1967 protocol. The government provided such protection to 367 persons in 2008 and 242 such persons through September.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The constitution provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.

The territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands have democratically elected home rule governments, whose powers encompass all matters except foreign and national security affairs, police services, and monetary matters. Greenlanders and Faroese have the same rights as other citizens. Each territory elects two representatives to the parliament. On June 21, Greenland's new Self-Governance Agreement, which further expanded the area of competency of the Greenland self-government, entered into force.

Elections and Political Participation

Free and fair parliamentary elections took place in 2007; they resulted in a continuation of a center-right coalition. In April Lars Loekke Rasmussen was named prime minister, replacing Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Political parties could operate without restriction or outside interference.

Based on the parliamentary elections in 2007, there were 67 women in the 179-seat parliament and eight women in the 19-seat cabinet. Following the November 17 municipal and regional elections, the percentage of women as members of municipal councils increased from 27.3 percent in 2005 to 32.1 percent. This was the first time that the number of women on municipal councils exceeded 30 percent nationwide. The election also increased the number of female regional council members from 33.7 percent in 2005 to 35.1 percent.

Four citizens of non-Danish origin were elected to the parliament. No ethnic minorities are in the 19-seat cabinet. The number of politicians of non-Danish ethnic origin who were elected to municipal councils dipped slightly in the November elections to 65 from 67 in 2005.

Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year. One instance involved Peter Brixtofte, a former mayor of the town of Farum, who was sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of office after it was uncovered that he had used public funds to finance his personal wine consumption during his time as mayor.

Public officials are not subject to financial disclosure laws, but government officials are not allowed to work on cases in which they have a personal or economic interest, or to represent someone, or have close relations to someone, with a special interest in the case. Officials are obligated to inform superiors of any possible disqualification issues related to a case. The Ministry of Justice and the State Employer's Authority in the Ministry of Finance are responsible for combating government corruption.

The law provides for public access to government information, and the government granted access to citizens and noncitizens, including foreign media.

Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views.

The government cooperated with, and permitted visits by, UN and other international governmental organizations. There were no such visits this year because Copenhagen was home to permanent branches of several international organizations, including the World Health Organization, UN Development Program, World Food Program, UNICEF, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The government generally responded to the reports of international organizations. For example, on March 13, the Council of Europe published the government's response to a 2008 visit by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Parliament had an ombudsman who investigated complaints regarding national and local public authorities and any decisions they made regarding the treatment of citizens and their cases. The ombudsman could, at his initiative, independently inspect any facility within his authority, such as prisons, detention centers, and psychiatric hospitals. The country also had a European ombudsman, who ensured compliance with EU basic rights, and a consumers ombudsman, who investigated complaints related to discriminatory marketing. These ombudsman services enjoyed the government's cooperation, operated without government or political interference, had adequate resources, and were considered effective.

Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. However, there were incidents of violence against women, child abuse, and trafficking in persons.

Women

Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense, and the government effectively prosecuted persons accused of such crimes. In 2008, 475 reports were received; charges were brought in 340 cases, resulting in 57 convictions. During the year there were 418 reports of rape.

Violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained a problem. According to the Ministry for Gender Equality, an estimated 28,000 women and 22,000 children experienced domestic violence every year. The National Organization of Shelters for Battered Women in 2008 provided safe haven in 3,287 cases, while alternative solutions were provided in 626 other cases where shelters did not have capacity. Under the law, any assault on another person is illegal. This also applies to domestic violence and rape. Penalties include imprisonment for up to 12 years, depending on the magnitude of the offense. The government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operated 24-hour hotlines, counseling centers, and shelters for female victims of violence and embarked on nationwide information campaigns and police training on gender-based violence.

Honor killings in the country are a relatively new phenomenon. In 2007 the national police force formally published a strategy to identify and combat such crimes. In April police held a nationwide seminar to train officers. Twelve honor-related murders have been officially identified since 2002. In 2008 police reported over 157 separate cases involving honor-related crimes such as forced marriage and threats.

Prostitution is legal, but subject to restrictions; procuring, coercion into prostitution, solicitation of prostitution from a minor, and trafficking are illegal. According to a report released during the year by the National Board of Social Services, the latest police estimate of the number of persons involved in prostitution is approximately 5,500.

The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides monetary compensation for victims of sexual harassment. The government effectively enforced the law. There were few reported cases during the year.

The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Health clinics and local health NGOs were permitted to operate freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Public Health. There were no restrictions on the right to access contraceptives, and the government provided free childbirth services. Women also used nurses and midwives for prenatal and postnatal care unless the mother or child suffered more serious health complications. Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Women have the same legal status as men, including under family law, property law, and in the judicial system. The law requires equal pay for equal work. However, the latest figures from the country's National Statistics and the Ministry for Gender Equality indicated that, as an average percentage of income, women earned 93 percent of a man's salary as an employee of the state, 84 percent as an employee of the local community, and 79 percent when employed in the private sector. Women did not experience economic discrimination in access to employment, credit, or owning or managing businesses. Women held positions of authority throughout society although they were underrepresented in senior business positions and as university professors.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in early September released statistics indicating that women occupied 13 percent of the management positions in the labor market. It called for the existing requirement – that employers with more than 35 employees report wages paid by gender – be extended to companies with fewer employees. The EU in 2008 also asked the government to address this problem.

Children

Citizenship at birth is primarily derived from one's parents (jus sanguinis). Citizenship is automatically given to children of married parents if one is a citizen and to children of unwed citizen mothers. Citizenship for a child of an unmarried citizen father and a foreign mother can only be transmitted if the child is born in the country. Anyone born in the country, who would otherwise be stateless, has the right to obtain citizenship either at birth or by application at a later date. The law requires that all persons practicing medicine in the country register the births of the children they deliver.

In the first three quarters of the year, police received 101 reports of the sexual abuse of children, compared with 155 such reports in 2008.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) – with or without consent from the victim or her parents – is illegal and carries a penalty of six to 10 years' imprisonment. The law applies to nationals or residents, regardless of whether the act was committed within the country or abroad and regardless of whether the act was a criminal offense under the law of the state where it was committed. On January 29, a court convicted a 49-year-old woman of Sudanese background of conducting FGM on two daughters. It sentenced her to two years in prison, of which 18 months were suspended and the remaining six months corresponded to time served. The husband was acquitted. The government conducted information campaigns targeting the problem of FGM.

Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits trafficking in persons for all purposes; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked to and through the country.

The country was both a destination and a transit point for women and children trafficked from the Baltic countries, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Latin America for the purposes of sexual exploitation and occasionally to work in petty crime.

The country has an active sexual service industry made up of both trafficked and voluntary persons. The National Board of Social Services estimated that there were more than 5,567 male and female prostitutes working nationwide. An estimated 37 percent were foreigners, some of whom were believed to be trafficking victims. According to Copenhagen police, women were recruited in their native countries, transported to Denmark, and then forced into prostitution. However, no reliable figures are available with regard to how many persons were being trafficked. In 2008 the police met with 431 women suspected of association with trafficking and 72 were confirmed to be victims. Through March police met with 202 women, resulting in identification of 22 confirmed trafficking victims. Authorities suspected that traffickers had ties to organized crime.

The law criminalizes trafficking and provides for a maximum prison term of eight years for those convicted. In 2008 police investigated and prosecuted 30 trafficking cases, compared with 23 cases in 2007; the number of convictions dropped from eight in 2007 to seven in 2008. Police also conducted 24 investigations into trafficking procurement in 2008, compared to 23 in 2007, laying charges in 51 cases in 2008, compared to 31 cases in 2007. There were 12 procurement convictions in both 2007 and 2008.

The national commissioner for police maintained an internal task force on trafficking in persons, assisted local police constabularies with investigations, and trained officers to recognize and investigate trafficking cases. The government cooperated with international investigations of trafficking and exchanged information with neighboring countries.

Persons identified as trafficking victims by the country's immigration service were not prosecuted for immigration violations. Women who accepted the offer of assisted voluntary return received help from local NGOs and the International Organization of Migration.

The government funded two NGOs that provided social, medical, and legal services to trafficking victims. Government funding was also used for conferences, media campaigns, and NGO outreach programs as well as for hotlines to support victims, prevent trafficking, and gather data on the extent of the problem. The Ministry of Social Welfare subsidized a hotline and Web site and organized antitrafficking seminars for NGOs, police, and foreign embassies to provide information on legislation, identifying trafficking victims, and providing assistance.

See also the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services or other areas, and the government effectively enforced these provisions in practice. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and the government generally enforced these provisions in practice. Responsibility for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities falls under the Ministry of Social Affairs and is implemented by the municipal governments. The Danish Disability Council, a government-funded organization, monitored the status of persons with disabilities and advised the government and the parliament on issues relating to disability policy. The Equal Opportunities Center for Disabled Persons is a government-funded entity that documented and alerted the government to inequalities in society that affect persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Security and Intelligence Service (PET) reported 175 hate crimes in 2008. The number of cases was roughly a five-fold increase over the number of hate crimes reported in 2007. Police attributed the increase to a new, broader definition used by PET of what constitutes a hate crime. For the first time, PET combined its hate crime cases with those from the various regional and national police registries. The new definition was expanded to cover crimes motivated by political issues, skin color, nationality, ethnic origin, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. Reported cases included hostile actions by persons against ethnic and national minorities and involved graffiti, vandalism, theft, and racist Internet and written messages. The government effectively investigated and dealt with cases of racially motivated violence.

According to police, hate crime victims were "Jews and people of an ethnic origin other than Danish" (usually meaning both African and Middle Eastern ethnic groups). Members of other minority groups were sometimes the perpetrators of the incidents. The government effectively investigated and dealt with cases of racially motivated violence.

The presence of ethnically and racially diverse refugees and immigrants (mostly Iraqis, Palestinians, Moroccans, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Somalis, and refugees from the former Yugoslavia) caused some tension between citizens and immigrants, which was documented in press reports. A report released by the EU Human Rights Agency in December stated that every third Somali in the country experienced some form of racist harassment.

Indigenous People

The law protects the rights of the indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Greenland. Greenland's legal system seeks to accommodate their customs, provides for the use of lay persons as judges, and sentences most prisoners to holding centers (rather than prisons), where they are encouraged to work, hunt, or fish during the day.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The country has one major lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization, the Danish National Association of Gays and Lesbians, which was founded in 1948. It operated independently of political interference to promote LGBT interests in Denmark. The annual Copenhagen Pride parade was held on August 1 and was followed by a "pride show" in Copenhagen's main town square. During the year Copenhagen also sponsored the World Outgames, which occurred without incident and without police or government interference.

There were no reports of official or societal discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

There were no reports of societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The law states that all workers, including military personnel and police, may form or join independent unions of their choosing without previous authorization or excessive requirements. These laws were effectively enforced. Approximately 80 percent of wage earners belonged to unions. Unions could conduct their activities without government interference. The law provides for the right to strike, and workers exercised this right during the year by conducting legal strikes. In some cases, when a strike occurs, not all union members may strike. In April the nurses union went on a national strike for a raise in pay, but almost a third of its members were not able to participate due to the legal minimum staffing levels required at hospitals.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is protected by law and was freely practiced. Approximately 85 percent of the workforce was covered by collective bargaining agreements. These agreements indirectly influenced wages and working conditions for the rest of the workforce. The law allows unions to conduct their activities without interference, and the government protected this right in practice.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and that children were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and occasionally to work in petty crime.

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits the exploitation of children in the workplace, and the government effectively enforced it in practice.

The minimum legal age for full-time employment is 15 years. The law sets a minimum age for part-time employment of 13 years; however, school-age children are limited to less strenuous tasks. The law limits work hours and sets occupational health and safety restrictions for children.

In the period from January 2008 to the end of March, the Red Cross and the Danish Antitrafficking Center reported meeting with 15 minors suspected of having been trafficked, but none was identified as a victim.

Child labor law is enforced by the Danish Working Environment Authority (DWEA), an autonomous arm of the Ministry of Labor.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law does not mandate a national minimum wage; minimum wages are negotiated between unions and employer associations. According to statistics released on March 1, the average minimum wage for all private and public sector collective bargaining agreements was 103.15 kroner ($20) per hour, exclusive of pension benefits. The wage provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Migrant workers are also entitled to minimum wage and must also adhere to the same employment regulations as Danes.

Workers generally enjoyed a 37-hour workweek that was established by contract rather than by law. Workers received premium pay for overtime and were not subjected to compulsory overtime. Working hours were determined by collective bargaining agreements that adhered to the EU directive that an average workweek not exceed 48 hours.

The law prescribes conditions of work, including safety and health; the DWEA ensured compliance with labor legislation. During the year the DWEA conducted 25,569 company screenings, visits, and inspections and made 36,374 requests for additional information or required improvements concerning working environment problems. If required improvements are not carried out within the given time frame, the DWEA has the authority to take the case to police or the courts. Workers may remove themselves from hazardous situations without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities effectively enforced this right in practice. Similar work conditions were found in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, except that there the workweek was established by contract at 40 hours.

Search Refworld

Countries