What are the main differences between Danish and US employment laws?

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What are the main differences between Danish and US employment laws?

  • differences, employment laws, Holland & Knight LLP, Kromann Reumert, US, US employees

Christopher G. Kelly & Howard Sokol from Holland & Knight LLP, and Marianne Granhøj from Kromann Reumert made an “compare and contrast” overview of various employment laws at our ”Legal advice for Danish companies employing staff in the US” event in May 2016.

5 key differences

  1. Termination of Employment
  2. Employee Benefits
  3. Wage and Hour Requirements
  4. “Ban the Box”
  5. Employee Compensation/Incentives

Check out the explanations and “compare and contrast” overviews below!

1: Termination of Employment

One of the main differences between Danish and American employment laws is contractual employment vs. employment “at-will”. This basically means that in Denmark employees are hired on a contract with, among other things, agreed notice periods – whereas in the US, both the employer and the employee have the right to terminate the employment for whatever reason they might have. The law can be somewhat different from state to state; however, no state has enacted restrictions against this basic employment relationship. Employment “at-will” is the preferred method in the US.


2: Employee Benefits

A lot of people might think that vacation is a mandatory part of the employment – but it’s not! In the US, employees have no legal right to vacation, and there’s no guaranteed paid leave regardless of pregnancy, sickness, pensions etc. In Denmark, all employees have the right to 5 weeks’ of vacation per year, and furthermore, have the right to get paid while sick, on maternity leave etc.



3: Wage and Hour Requirements

In the US, it is very important to classify the employee as either a nonexempt or an exempt, because it directly affects which laws are applicable to the employment! The states are more strict than the federal on employers – requiring more before exemption will be granted.

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4: “Ban the Box”

In the US, it is now illegal to ask applicants about their criminal records, whereas employers in Denmark are able to collect employees’ criminal records, if the employee consents. The US ban of the box is a way of letting ex-offenders display their qualifications in the hiring process before being asked about their criminal records.

Ban the box

5: Employee Compensation/Incentives 

It is more common to use incentives plans in the US, and the number increases – for 2011-2013, 39% percent of respondents reported that their company has four or more short-term incentive plans in place; this figure was only 23 percent in 2011. Moreover, in the US, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime (1.5 times their regular rate of pay) for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week under FLSA.


If you want more information on which topics our expert speakers covered at this event, check out the past event here.

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