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working in denmark

Work-life balance

Danes are some of Europe's most efficient workers - but they do not just live to work. Maintaining a good balance between time on the job and personal life is important to them, and employers respect this. 

Stop by a Danish office at 5pm and nearly every desk will be empty.

While the Danes are hard workers, they prefer to do their jobs within Denmark's 37 hour official work week. Staying extra hours is discouraged, and most employees leave at around 4pm to pick up their children and begin preparing the evening meal. 

If you try to visit a Danish office during the last weeks of July, you may find the doors locked entirely.

Business largely shuts down at this time of year, as the Danes take time off to enjoy the short Danish summer. Every employee is legally entitled to five weeks' paid vacation per year, and the Danes are not shy about taking every minute of it.

Work-life balance is important in Denmark - people take pride in their work but do not feel the need to demonstrate their dedication by working long hours.

Father and son in sofa

How Denmark compares to other countries

In an international context, Denmark is among the best places to be when it comes to work-life balance, according to the OECD. 

  • In Denmark, only about 2 % of employees work very long hours compared to the OECD average of 11 %.
  • In Denmark, full-time workers devote 66 % of their day on average to personal care and leisure, which is above the OECD average of 63 %.
  • Danish women have better opportunities to pursue a career and balance it with family life due to the relatively short working week, flexibility at work, and the supportive network provided by state-subsidised daycare. About 72 % of Danish women have paid jobs outside the home, far above the OECD average of 59 %.

Did you know

Despite limited working hours, Denmark has some of the world's highest productivity rates.  Danes are the second-most productive workers in Europe (Ireland is first), and Danes are more productive than workers in the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. 

Support for family life

The goal of work-life balance is making sure everyone has a chance for a healthy life outside work, whether they have a family or not. Single people in Denmark often have a busy calendar full of sports clubs, friend meet-ups, and volunteer commitments.  

Helping families thrive means both mothers and fathers are allowed to leave work at a reasonable hour to pick up their children from daycare, or to take a paid day off work if a child is ill. When a new baby arrives, the woman giving birth receives 14 weeks off from work, while the other parent has two weeks after the birth - all with full pay. Afterwards, the parents can split a total of 32 weeks paid time off work.

Danish companies do their best to be flexible if parents need time for children's medical or dentist appointments, or for their own. Coming to work sick in Denmark is considered very poor manners. Instead, employees are encouraged to stay home and recover quickly. 

Some companies allow employees to work from home one or two days per week, but those employees are usually encouraged to come to the office on the other days to interact face-to-face with their colleagues. 

According to the OECD, a good work-life balance helps keep employees healthy and also improves workplace safety.

Finding happiness  Employees of Indian tech-company Mahindra have found the right work-life balance in Denmark   

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