Vacation and Holidays in Denmark

It is the season of holidays in Denmark, and with summer coming it might not be a bad idea to start planning the next couple of months.

​Denmark has one of the highest numbers of paid vacation days worldwide, but there are some rules about these days you may not know.

Denmark is known for having a lot of paid vacation time, which is one of the major perks of being an employee. It usually adds up to five weeks of vacation plus around nine public holidays (plus other possible company paid holidays or additional vacation time). But there are some rules that you should know about regarding the different types of vacation days, how they are earned and when you can use them.

The Danish Holiday Act covers most salaried employees, but not independent consultants, freelancers, nor blue-collar employees. This is the Act that governs the five weeks of vacation and you should be aware of some factors, which can seem a little confusing at first:

  • The five weeks of vacation are taken during the Danish Vacation Year, which runs from May 1st until April 30th the following year.
  • If you have a job covered by the Danish Holiday Act, you are entitled to take vacation during the vacation year period. However, it will only be paid vacation if you have earned paid vacation time.
  • You earn paid vacation from January 1st to December 31st each calendar year at the rate of 2.08 days per month.
  • The vacation time that you earn in one calendar year is used in the next applicable vacation year.

For example, assuming you have never worked in Denmark before, if you start work on March 1st 2015, you earn 2.08 days per month until December 31st 2015. This gives you 20 or so days of paid vacation earned in 2015. You can first use this paid vacation during the 2016 vacation year, starting on the 1st of May 2016.

The Danish vacation is further broken down so that there is a “main holiday period” which starts on May 1st and ends on September 30th. During this time, you would generally take three weeks of vacation of your five weeks. A lot of people take three weeks in a row while others break it up. If your employer wants to decide when you should take any of your vacation days, they have to let you know in advance according to the notice period rules. We can look at notice periods in a later article.

If you don’t take your vacation during the vacation year, you may be able to transfer some of it to the next vacation year, but you’ll need to talk to your employer about this. If you decide to leave your employer, your unused earned vacation time will be transferred to something called Feriekonto. You’ll need your Nem ID to log in and see how much time/funds were transferred over for each vacation year. When you start with a new employer, you won’t have any earned vacation at that employer just yet, but you would just withdraw anything you earned previously for that vacation year from Feriekonto. You can read more about it here.

Additional Vacation Days (Feriefridage)

This is often referred to as the sixth week of vacation. These days are not covered by the Danish Holiday Act and are usually part of some kind of negotiated agreement with the workplace. Therefore the rules can differ from place to place with regard to eligibility, use and possible payout. For specific information on these additional days, consult your employer.

Public Holidays: In addition to the vacation days, there are also public holidays. These are bunched up mostly in the early part of the year and so after June, there is only Christmas. However, the period in between June and Christmas includes the above mentioned main holiday, so it’s not bad at all.

Here’s Public Holidays in Denmark

Here is a list of the public holidays:

  • 1 January: New Year’s Day
  • March-April: Easter: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Whit Monday. Easter Sunday falls no earlier than 22 March and no later than 25 April
  • April-May: Great Day of Prayer: Always falls on the Friday before the fourth Sunday after Easter – no earlier than 17 April, and no later than 21 May. Abolished as a public holiday from 2024 onwards.
  • April-June: Ascension Day: Falls 40 days after Easter Sunday, always on a Thursday; no earlier than 30 April and no later than 3 June
  • May-June: Pentecost: Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. Whit Sunday is the seventh Sunday after Easter: no earlier than 10 May and no later than 13 June
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Boxing Day

Closing days under the Danish Closing Act

With the exception of small grocery stores, retail outlets may not open on public holidays or on the following days:

  • 5 June: Constitution Day
  • 24 December: Christmas Eve
  • 31 December: New Year’s Eve (after 3:00 pm)

Days off under collective agreements in Denmark

You may be entitled to time off on some days that are not public holidays – it depends on what is stated in your contract, the staff handbook or your collective agreement. Days that can often be days off from work include:

  • 1 May: International Workers’ Day
  • 5 June: Constitution Day
  • 24 December: Christmas Eve
  • 31 December: New Year’s Eve

Other celebrations and special days in Denmark

  • February-March: Shrovetide falls on the seventh Sunday before Easter Sunday; no earlier than 1 February and no later than 7 March
  • 2 February: Candlemass
  • 23 March: Nordic Day
  • 16 April: Birthday of H.M. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
  • 5 May: Liberation Day
  • Second Sunday in May: Mother’s Day in Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. In Norway, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in February – in Sweden it is the last Sunday in May.
  • 9 May: Europe Day
  • 5 June: Father’s Day – unlike in Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, where Father’s Day falls on the second Sunday in November.
  • 15 June: Valdemar’s Day
  • 15 June: Reunification Day
  • 23 June: Midsummer Eve
  • 21 June: Greenland’s National Day. The flag of Greenland, Erfalasorput, is flown
  • 29 July: National Day of the Faroe Islands, Ólavsøka. The Faroese flag, Merkið, is flown
  • 5 September: Flag day for Danish military personnel posted abroad
  • 10 November: Martinmas Eve
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