Collective agreements for white collar workers

You have undoubtedly noticed that new collective agreements were recently negotiated for the public sector. Now the time has come for private sector workplaces. But what does a ‘collective agreement’ for white collar workers actually contain?

You may already be well-acquainted with how the collective agreement system works in the Danish labour market. If you aren’t, here is a brief introduction.

Collective agreements in Denmark primarily cover:

  • Working hours and overtime
  • Pay and pension
  • Time off and holidays (besides that set out in the legislation)
  • Terms of parental leave (besides that set out in the legislation)
  • Terms for seniors. 

In Denmark, highly educated workers are normally covered by some sort of agreement that defines their pay and employment terms.

In the public sector, all employees, including university graduates, are covered by collective agreements.

In contrast, many university graduates working in the private sector are employed under individual contracts, which they negotiate with their superior. However, it is becoming increasingly common for businesses in the private sector to enter into a collective agreement or local agreement with a professional organisation.

You can see in your contract if you are covered by a collective agreement or local agreement.

Collective agreements in the private sector

In autumn 2018, Djøf has negotiated 24 private-sector collective agreements.

You can see here a list of the collective agreements and local agreements that Djøf has entered into in the private sector. (Note: This list is only available in Danish. If you find your employer on the list, you are welcome to give us a call to learn more about what the agreement entails.)

The Danish Model

In the Danish labour market, very few employment terms are set out in the legislation. Instead, representatives of employers and workers (the two sides of industry) negotiate with each other to set out the terms of employment. This is known as The Danish Model.

For instance, Danish legislation does not regulate whether you have the right to time off with pay to care for your sick child. However, this may be included in a collective agreement. In this way, the collective agreement ensures that you do not need to negotiate individually with your employer for the right to time off with pay on your child’s first sick day.

All collective agreements describe which employee groups are covered by the agreement in question. This is called the ‘scope of cover’. You education and your work assignments typically determine which collective agreement you belong to.

A workplace may be covered by several collective agreements – and thus have different employment terms for different employee groups. 

Your influence on the collective agreement

A collective agreement applies for a specified period of time, for example two years. Then it must be renegotiated for the next period. 

The negotiation process usually begins with the employees proposing what they would like to get out of the negotiations. This might be wage increases, extra time off, better terms for parental leave or similar.

Management will then typically counter with demands for wage moderation and greater flexibility in relation to working overtime.

When the negotiations are concluded, you get to vote on the outcome if you are a member of the trade union that has negotiated the collective agreement.

A collective agreement can only be changed through negotiation. If you are not covered by a collective agreement, management can change your employment terms on their own.

Contact Djøf

You are always welcome to call us for advice on your employment terms, regardless of whether you are covered by a collective agreement or employed under an individual contract. 

Call us for good advice