The Danish Parliament has approved the abolition of the great prayer day from 2024. This means that the former public holiday will now become a normal working day. In this article we discuss the impact on this for employers and employees.
In February 2023 we explained that the Danish parliament had given its first consideration to the abolition of the great prayer day holiday. The abolition of the great prayer day was a government initiative and part of the government’s policy to finance military spending in light of Putin’s attack Ukraine. The Danish government hopes the additional tax revenue from abolishing the holiday will help it reach a longstanding NATO target of spending 2% of its GDP on defence. An official estimate suggests that canceling the public holiday would generate as much as 3 billion kroner per year.
The proposed legislation was approved on 28 February 2023 and means that from 2024 the great prayer day will no longer be a public holiday in Denmark and will become an ordinary working day. Pay and working hours will therefore need to be treated like any other working day. The implications of the new law are discussed further in this article.
Impact on terms
The new legislation will of course impact individual and collectively agreed conditions. The great prayer day has always fallen on a working day, meaning that employees will lose the right to the day off.
It is unusual for the legislature to intervene in terms laid down in collective agreements and individual agreements, including for the legislature to directly regulate wages for work on the great prayer day, as there is no tradition in Denmark for wage terms to be regulated in legislation.
In the recent collective bargaining negotiations, the parties have not dealt with the abolition of the great prayer day, as according to the union and CO-Industri, it is a government measure, which must be dealt with at the next parliament election. Therefore, unless specifically dealt with in individual CBA’s employees comprised by a CBA will not have a great prayer day as a holiday from 2024.
There will be no need to amend individual contract of employments as the legislation will automatically apply.
Employees with fixed salary
The legislation introduces a salary supplement for employees who received a fixed monthly salary in recognition of the employees’ annual working hours being increased. Employees with a fixed salary will receive a fixed supplement of 0.45% of the annual salary, calculated of fixed annual salary, pen-sion contributions and other allowances and benefits not paid during the holiday. Bonuses and com-mission payments will not be included in the calculation.
The salary supplement is accrued on a monthly basis and can be paid monthly or settled together with the holiday supplement, i.e. twice a year with the salary for the months of May and August. If the salary supplement is not paid monthly, it will have to be settled proportionally upon termination of employment.
Hourly paid employees
Hourly paid employees who work on the great prayer day will receive their usual hourly rate for the working hours in the normal way.
The implementation of the bill has been controversial based on the government’s interference with the labour market in Denmark. Whilst the abolition of great prayer day has been to increase the la-bour supply, it is also likely to create unrest within the workforce, for example, demands for extra time off and extra payment for the extra working hours. If you need further support with anything arising from this, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Mette Klingsten Law Firm.