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Working in Denmark

Find out how to get a job and work in Denmark

Working in Denmark opens up new opportunities for expats. Both its location in the heart of northern Europe as well as its thriving economy are good reasons for taking up employment in Denmark. InterNations GO! offers info on working in Denmark, including the job search, the current economy, and more.

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Employment in Denmark

A Strong Economy

The Danish economy is founded on government welfare and equitable distribution of income. As such, it is no surprise that people working in Denmark enjoy one of the highest living standards in the world.

Yet, the modern market economy also boasts a state-of-the-art industry and a high-tech agricultural sector. Expats intent on working in Denmark might just find an occupation at some of the world-leading pharmaceutical companies and maritime shipping firms in the country.

While Denmark’s economy did not escape a slight drop during the financial crisis, it is now back on track, with Denmark having one of the highest GDP per capita in the EU. Expats with plans on working in Denmark should know that the country has so far declined to join the European Economic and Monetary Union and has hence kept its own currency, the krone, rather than make the change to the euro.

The Fields in Which the Danish Work

Many people working in Denmark are self-employed and run their own company or restaurant, or have an agricultural business. In general terms, the 2.7 million people who make up Denmark’s labor force were employed in the following fields as of the first quarter of 2016:

  • 32% of people working in Denmark do so in public administration, education, and health;
  • 22% do so in trade and transport;
  • 13% in manufacturing;
  • 10% in other business services;
  • 5% in building and construction;
  • 5% in culture and leisure including the arts;
  • 4% in information and communications;
  • 3% in finance and insurance; and
  • 2% in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
  • 1% in real estate

How to Best Find Work in Denmark

For expats who dream of working in Denmark, an intra-company transfer is the best way to reach their goal. Of course, this requires that you are currently working for a company with branch offices in Denmark. If you don’t, the job search is often the most arduous aspect of preparing for working in Denmark.

It would, for instance, not be a bad idea to brush up on your Danish before or while applying for jobs. It is not impossible to get by without the local language, but working in Denmark is a lot easier with at least a basic command.

There are many ways of finding work in Denmark. You can refer to job centers for help (website in Danish only), which especially makes sense if you have already been living or even working in Denmark for a while and are now searching for a new job. This is also where you have to register if you become unemployed. Additionally, you should make sure to take full advantage of the many services offered by Work in Denmark.

You can also search sites like Jobindex.dk and newspaper classifieds or contact private employment agencies. The latter of course come at a cost, but they will help you find exactly the kind of job you are looking for. For some, it may pay more dividends to rely on their existing expat network to learn about new job openings.

Know If You Need a Work Permit for Denmark

EU/EEA nationals, as well as Swiss and Nordic citizens (Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes) planning to live and work in Denmark, do not need a work or residence permit. However, there are some minor restrictions for EU/EEA nationals. You can learn more about this by contacting a Danish consulate or diplomatic mission abroad, or the Danish Immigration Services in Denmark. Permits for expats from other countries are usually only granted if no Danish professionals were available to fill your prospective position

However, a handful of different work permit schemes help make it easier for expats to start working in Denmark. For more information, please refer to our article on moving to Denmark or contact a Danish consulate or embassy in your home country.

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The Keywords of Business in Denmark: Flexible and Laid-Back

What is the “Flexicurity Model”?

The Danish labor market is characterized by a high degree of flexibility and the social welfare system. This phenomenon is known as the “Flexicurity Model” which in essence is a combination of Denmark’s market economy and the traditional Scandinavian welfare state. 

The Flexicurity Model allows for very high job mobility within the country. There are very few hurdles for those who wish to switch jobs, as this does not affect, for instance, pension entitlements. As such, the aim of the model is to give people working in Denmark employment security rather than job security. Expats who lack basic proficiency in Danish might not have as easy a time changing jobs, though.

A Relaxed Working Environment

It is quite common for companies in Denmark to have a flat organizational structure and open communication between employees and management. Regardless of position, everyone is on a first-name basis, and in most companies everyone has a say when decisions are made.

As a result, teamwork is highly valued and considered a key soft skill for expats on the job hunt. At the same time, you will be expected to work very independently and to bring efficiency, creativity, and motivation to the table.

Of course, a healthy work-life balance is essential to any expat, and in Denmark you needn’t be concerned. The OECD’s Better Life Index has Denmark at an excellent 9.1 out of 10 when it comes to work-life balance, which is the second highest among all OECD countries, beaten only by the Netherlands’ 9.4.

Flexible work hours are very common as most employers trust their employees to get their work done. Thus, you may be allowed to work from home or to stay late if, for instance, you have some important personal matters to take care of in the morning.

An Introduction to Taxes in Denmark

If you are new to Scandinavia, you may be taken aback by Denmark’s high taxes. Twice a year, you will receive a letter from the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) with a tax assessment notice (Årsopgørelse), in which you are to check and confirm information about, for example, your income for the coming year. This can also be done online, and Life in Denmark provides information on this topic. Still, if you speak no Danish, you should get your colleagues to help you.

As is the case in all Scandinavian countries, taxes are used to finance Denmark’s public welfare programs. So, while you will be paying upwards of 40-50% of your income in taxes, this also means you have free access to health and education services.

If you are a researcher or an employee in a profession on the positive list, you may qualify for a special tax program under which you get an income tax rate of around 32% for up to five years. Contact SKAT to find out more, and make sure to familiarize yourself with their latest Tax in Denmark publication, which specifically aims to explain the Danish welfare system to newcomers.

The Right Pension Plan for You

There are a few different pension schemes in Denmark. Which ones apply to you really depends on your employer, your field of work and, frankly, you. There are pension schemes offered by the state as well as semi-private and private pension schemes, which you might receive through your employer or take out individually. They include the following:

  • The state pension scheme is paid by the government based on taxes and is of course part of Denmark’s social security system.
  • The Danish labor market pension is another statutory scheme, which is usually a fixed percentage of your wage.
  • Collective pension schemes are part of a collective agreement in a specific field, usually negotiated by unions.
  • Company pension schemes are usually agreed upon on an individual basis between the employer and the employee.
  • Private pension savings schemes have to be set up individually between you and your bank, for instance.

You only gain the right to benefit from the public pension schemes if you have been a resident in Denmark for a certain number of years. Many expats are additionally covered by company pension or collective pension schemes, which are often part of their employment contract.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: December 06, 2018
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