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FAQ: Practical Management of the Abolition of Great Prayer Day

2024 will be the first year since 1686 that Great Prayer Day is no longer a public holiday in Denmark. The main lines of the law regarding the consequences of the abolition of Great Prayer Day as a public holiday are described here, but since the law was passed, several additional questions have arisen about how employers should/can handle the abolition of Great Prayer Day. We have compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions in this FAQ.

 

We pay the salary supplement to the monthly paid employees together with the regular monthly salary. Can the supplement be included in the regular monthly salary?

The law allows for the salary supplement to be settled “concurrently with the payment of the salary”, cf. § 3, para. 2, no. 2. There are divided opinions on whether this means that the salary supplement can be included in the monthly salary, including whether there should be a distinction between employees hired before and after January 1, 2024. Our clear recommendation is to separate the salary supplement from the regular monthly salary so that the supplement appears as a separate line on the payslip and is described in the employment contract, an addition to the employment contract, or otherwise communicated in writing to the affected employees. Most payroll systems allow for the Great Prayer Day supplement to be specified on the payslip.

Employers must be able to document that the salary supplement has been paid. If the employer cannot do this, they risk being faced with a back-payment claim. Claims arising from employment relationships expire only after 5 years, so incorrect settlement of the salary supplement can accumulate to a larger amount if the claim from the employee is only raised after several years. Therefore, the cautious solution is to specify the Great Prayer Day supplement on the payslip, even if it seems like a more administratively heavy solution.

 

Do employees hired after January 1, 2024, also have to receive the salary supplement?

We assess that monthly paid employees hired after January 1, 2024, should also receive the salary supplement if they would have been entitled to a day off on Great Prayer Day had they been employed at an earlier time. This is the safe solution until it is finally clarified how the rules should be interpreted. If one is more “bold” as an employer, one can choose a solution where it is simply stated in the contract that the salary has been adjusted to include the Great Prayer Day supplement. See below.

It is stated in § 3 of the bill’s remarks that:

“Employees who are hired after the law comes into force and are covered by, for example, a collective agreement, etc., which has been amended by § 2, para. 1, are also covered by the scheme and are entitled to a salary supplement according to § 3, para. 1”.

It is stated in the bill’s § 2, which is referred to in the remark to § 3, that:

“Special salary and employment conditions on public holidays, including provisions on leave, compensatory leave, inconvenience allowance, and salary during absence, as found in other legislation, collective agreements, and agreements, individual agreements, customs, unilaterally set rules or similar rules, do not apply to Great Prayer Day, cf. however, para. 2.”

Although the answer cannot be read directly from the remarks, one must assume on this basis that employees hired after January 1, 2024, are also entitled to the salary supplement of 0.45% of the regular predictable salary if the employee is considered to be covered by customs, individual agreements, unilaterally set rules, legislation, or similar, which before the law’s enactment contained provisions for a day off on Great Prayer Day.

 

Can we still give employees a day off on Great Prayer Day?

There is nothing to prevent employees from keeping Great Prayer Day as a day off, and the law does not require that the extra hours of work resulting from the abolition of Great Prayer Day be placed on the day that was previously Great Prayer Day.

Another question is whether one can avoid increasing the employees’ working hours and avoid paying the salary supplement. The law and remarks to the law do not provide a clear answer to the question, but since the purpose of the abolition of Great Prayer Day as a public holiday is to increase working hours, it can be considered a circumvention of the law if the employer chooses to retain Great Prayer Day as a public holiday, and thus the working hours are not increased.

Therefore, it would be risky to choose such a solution, and our recommendation is to follow the intentions behind the bill so that employees work what corresponds to one more day annually, which can be placed independently of Great Prayer Day, and that employees receive the salary supplement in return. Whether the company then wishes to introduce other rules on company-paid or self-paid leave is another question.

 

What applies to employees hired for a fixed-term position?

The crucial factor for an employee to be entitled to a salary supplement as a result of the abolition of Great Prayer Day is that the employee is paid monthly and that the working hours are increased as a result of the abolition of Great Prayer Day. This also applies to employees in fixed-term employment.

It is not in itself decisive whether an employee is hired for a temporary position, or whether the temporary position ends before what was previously Great Prayer Day.

One should also be aware that an employee in a fixed-term employment, according to § 4 of the Act on Fixed-Term Employment, must not be less favourably treated than what applies to a comparable permanent employee if the differential treatment is solely based on the time-limited duration of the employment.

 

Do part-time employees have to receive a salary supplement?

The crucial factor is whether the employee’s working hours are increased, but also whether the employee is entitled to compensatory leave according to a collective agreement, practice, or individual agreement, etc.

In the remarks to the law, it is indicated that part-time employees should also have their working hours increased. Thus, the remarks state that “For part-time employees, this will mean that the effective working hours are increased proportionally, for example, so that an employee on half-time will have their working hours increased by 3.7 hours corresponding to 0.5 times 7.4 hours”.

However, it is also stated in the remarks that: “It should be noted in this context that the bill will not increase the effective working hours for all employees. If public holidays have no significance for the calculation of working hours, the effective working hours will thus not be affected by the bill”.

If the part-time employee works all days of the week or regularly on Fridays, the starting point is therefore that the employee should have their working hours increased proportionally, and will therefore also be entitled to the salary supplement.

A part-time employee who, for example, never works on Fridays and does not have their working hours increased, will not in principle be entitled to the salary supplement.

An exception to this can be if the part-time employee is entitled to compensatory leave according to a collective agreement, practice, or individual agreement, etc., as such agreements on compensatory leave will also be abolished with the new law, and the employee will thus have increased working hours.

 

Should we inform the employees about the abolition of Great Prayer Day?

According to § 3, para. 2, no. 10 of the Employment Certificate Act, employees must receive information about salary, including salary supplements, and payment dates. In addition, employees must receive notice of the daily or weekly working hours.

We therefore recommend that employees receive written notice of the increased working hours and the salary supplement, including the payment terms chosen by the employer. This can be either monthly or together with the salary for May and August.

According to the Employment Certificate Act, such a notice must be able to be saved and printed, and the employer must be able to document that the employees have received the information. Beyond this, there is freedom in the method of delivery, and the notice can therefore be given as an addition to the employment contract or sent as an email.

Write or call us, and we will prepare an addition to the employment contract so that employees are informed about how the Great Prayer Day supplement is paid and other practical information regarding the Great Prayer Day supplement, including about, for example, employees on leave, etc.

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FAQ: Practical Management of the Abolition of Great Prayer Day

2024 will be the first year since 1686 that Great Prayer Day is no longer a public holiday in Denmark. The main lines of the law regarding the consequences of the abolition of Great Prayer Day as a public holiday are described here, but since the law was passed, several additional questions have arisen about […]
Read more

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