• Insights

Coronavirus: Postponement of employee holidays in Denmark

Written by
Norrbom Vinding, the largest labour and employment law practice in Scandinavia and the market leader in Denmark.
The Danish Parliament has enacted a temporary amendment to legislation enabling employers to postpone employee holidays in very special circumstances.  

In light of COVID-19 a bill on postponement of holidays has been enacted at the urging of the Danish Minister for Employment. This amendment to the Holiday Act concerns all employees and applies to holidays which have or have not already been planned.

According to the amendment, employers temporarily have a right, in special circumstances relating to COVID-19, to postpone an employee’s holiday to the next holiday period. The amendment applies to holidays which should have been taken in the holiday year 2019/2020 and the short holiday year running from 1 May 2020 to 31 August 2020.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that employees can be ordered to work for a certain period if the employer has a particularly urgent need for workers (as a consequence of COVID-19) without the employees losing their holidays.

The right to postpone holiday is conditional on the postponement being caused by ‘significant, unforeseeable operational reasons’ connected with COVID-19, and such reasons must necessitate the postponement. According to the legislation, the situation must be ‘force majeure’-like and its occurrence must have been unforeseeable for the employer.

Further, the employee performing the work must be the one who has his or her holiday postponed.

Holidays can either be postponed through agreement between the employer and employee or unilaterally by the employer. If the employee suffers a financial loss because of the postponement, the employer must cover such loss.

The amendment applies regardless of other rules about postponement of holidays (including rules set out in individual or collective agreements). It is possible to enter into a collective agreement or another type of agreement regarding the COVID-19-related situations where holiday may be postponed to a subsequent holiday period.

This measure is only a temporary one resulting from COVID-19. Accordingly, the amendment only applies to holiday accrued under the applicable Holiday Act to be taken in the holiday year 2019/2020 and the short holiday year from 1 May 2020 to 31 August 2020.