Work

Work in Denmark

A great percentage of Danish university students have student jobs. Though it might not be your first task to get one immediately upon arrival, if you plan to stay here for more than one semester, it’s a good idea to consider getting a student job.

However, it can be difficult to find a job if you do not speak Danish. Many people find jobs through their personal networks, so making Danish and international friends in Denmark could already be a huge first step.

As the competition for student jobs in Copenhagen is quite tough, it’s best to plan your finances so that you will be able to support yourself without a job for the first semester.

Remember that it will be easier to find a student job in Denmark if you speak Danish. See the “Danish Language Page” for information on free language classes for international students, which will improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark.

Danish Language

Can I work in Denmark?

Nordic, EU/EEA or Swiss citizens are allowed to work in Denmark under EU rules regarding the free movement of people and services. There is no minimum or maximum number of hours that you can work.

Also, if you are an EU citizen working in Denmark, you might be able to apply for SU. You have to work a certain minimum amount of hours at your job to be eligible to earn what Danes receive for SU. If you do get SU, then there is a limit to how much you are allowed to earn per year.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week and full-time during June, July and August.

However, you must first secure a work permit. You can apply for a work permit when you apply for your residence permit, or you can apply at the Danish Immigration Service later. You will receive your work permit as a sticker in your passport.

In either case, talk to your local International Citizen Service if you have any questions and follow their instructions. When it comes to following the rules for employment as an international, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Risk of deportation: 

If you work illegally in Denmark – for example by working more than 20 hours a week as a non-EU/EEA student – the Danish Immigration Service can revoke your residence permit or refuse to extend it. This puts you at risk for deportation.

Both you and your employer can also risk a prison sentence or substantial fines if you are caught working illegally. So make sure that you have your affairs in order before accepting a job.

What kind of jobs can you get as a student?

Restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels will often be open to employing international students who don’t speak Danish. Some retail stores will also employ international students.

You might be able to find a job with a company that needs someone with your native language skills or insider knowledge of your home culture. This could be a job in the tourist industry, or with a company that caters to people from your background.

It could also be with a Danish company conducting business with companies from your country, or someone about to launch a product in your home country.

Translating assignments can also be a good option for employment.

If you like to write, you might be able to get a job at an English speaking newspaper or online media outlet.

We know that you would probably prefer to find a job related to your field of study or previous experiences, but please remember that this can be difficult even for Danish students. Getting Danish work experience in other fields first might make it easier to get the more attractive student jobs in the future.

Campus jobs are difficult to find and many of them require Danish language skills. You could be lucky and find a position as a research assistant, instructor or administrative assistant within an international program. The universities will post job openings on their online jobbanks.

Tips on Tips

Denmark doesn’t have a tipping culture, so though employees in service jobs might receive them, tips should never constitute the basis of the salary or be used as a legitimate supplement to a low hourly wage.

Most service area employees will share their tips or have a “tipping jar”, so be sure to check the tipping culture at your place of employment before pocketing the money for yourself.

Danish work culture:

Danish work culture is often pretty relaxed and informal. It’s normal to call your superiors by first name, especially if they introduce themselves to you using their first name.

Collaboration and teamwork is the norm, and it is not seen as a good quality to “step on others to get ahead”.

The work-life balance is valued in Denmark, so you will rarely get extra points for working extra or overtime. It’s a work smarter, not harder culture, and even your boss might call in sick, leave work early to pick up their kids or take a few days off once in a while.

If you are in doubt about anything, it’s perfectly okay to ask a colleague you trust for tips.

Ask about sick leave, work hours and vacation policies when you start the job, so you’re sure to follow your workplace’s protocol.

How to dress for a job:

Most Danish workplaces (where you don’t wear a uniform) don’t have a specific dress code.

In general, the Danes dress smart but casual, so jeans are normally accepted, and ties and suits are not required.

If you are in doubt, watch and take a cue from how your Danish colleagues dress.

Unions

A trade union provides you with the support and guidance you may need – and negotiates collectively to secure the best possible working conditions. This means that being a member of a trade union is common in Denmark and can help you with any needed services.

Your general terms of employment are in many cases regulated by collective agreements made by the trade unions and employer associations.

The trade union offers you guidance and legal support on important issues such as your individual employment contract, your salary and matters like work-related injuries or rehabilitation.

workindenmark.dk – Empolyment contracts

If you are starting an on-going job, always get a contract. At the very least, you should get something in writing regarding specific aspects of your job such as the expected tasks, your terms of employment and your salary.

This shows that both you and your place of employment are committed. Furthermore, the document provides you with something to show the union if there are problems.

There is not any law regarding minimum wages in Denmark, so the collective agreements are important.

If your work place does not follow the collective agreement (either by joining it or by following the guidelines in them), they can pay you as little or as much as they want.

Make sure your hourly wage is specified in the contract, and ask your union or google what the hourly rate is normally for the job in question.

It is very cheap or sometimes even free to be a student member of a union. Pick the union most relevant to your field of study or your current work.

Unions usually offer discounts on insurance and more, and they can even help you to write a CV and cover letter.

workindenmark.dk –  Trade Unions

Links to more info

nyidanmark.dk – Coming to DK

workindenmark.dk – Working in Denmark
investindk.com – Guide on how to start up your own business in Denmark (PDF)