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Both men and women serving in the military receive parental and family leave in Denmark.  Leave is granted for the care of young children, sick children, seriously ill children, dying family members, etc.  The leave may be paid or unpaid.  Paid leave is made up of a combination of leave paid by the employer and leave paid by the state.

I. Introduction

Trying out for military service is mandatory for men in Denmark.[1]  Women are not drafted but serve voluntarily.[2]  Whether or not men who do not wish to serve are forced to do so depends on whether enough men and women volunteer to serve.  Currently, one in four of new recruits are women.[3]

Family leave is governed by the Leave for Family Reasons Act. [4] This is general legislation that applies to all employees who work in Denmark.  Family reasons for leave from the military include care for dying family members, sick children, and severely ill or hospitalized children.[5]

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II. Maternity Leave

Mothers in the military receive paid leave both prior to and after giving birth.[6] Expectant mothers have the right to six weeks of paid leave prior to their due date.[7] However, an expectant mother has the duty to inform her commander at least three months prior to the due date of when she will take her leave.[8] Paid leave is also granted for prenatal appointments, although these should be scheduled so as to do the least harm to the employer.[9] Illness in connection with pregnancy is treated as illness in general and the expectant mother is entitled to sick leave.[10]

After birth, mothers are required to take at least two weeks of full paid maternity leave and are entitled to fourteen weeks.[11] After those fourteen weeks, mothers are also entitled to parental leave through the state, which can be shared with a partner for another thirty-two weeks.[12] In addition a mother can take twenty weeks of unpaid leave or leave with dagpeng (reduced pay provided by the state).[13]

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III. Paternity Leave

Fathers have a right to two weeks of paid leave in connection with the birth of a child or the homecoming from the hospital of the child.[14] These two weeks are thus taken while the mother is on maternity leave.[15] Although such leave should generally be taken in direct connection with the homecoming or the birth, the father’s commander can agree to grant the two weeks of leave any time during the first fourteen weeks following the birth.[16] However, these rights are not guaranteed if the father is stationed abroad.[17]

The same rights to parental leave apply to fathers and mothers who thus share thirty-two weeks between them.[18]  This can be extended to forty-six weeks by using a smaller percentage of compensation for each week.[19]

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IV. Adoption and Leave Rights

Adoptive parents have similar rights to leave as natural parents.[20] The extent of leave is dependent on whether adoption takes place inside or outside of Denmark.[21] Where the adoption takes place in Denmark, both parents are entitled to one week of paid leave with their full salary in connection with the homecoming, which may be extended for another week using the state system of dagpeng (i.e., reduced pay).[22] If instead the adoption takes place abroad the parents are entitled to four weeks of paid leave at full salary, which can be extended for another four weeks with dagpeng.[23] Both parents are entitled to spend the first two weeks at home together after an adoption.

If the adoption agency requires that one parent stay home with the child, a parent is entitled to twelve weeks of paid leave in addition to the parental leave of thirty-two weeks that the state covers.[24] As with natural parents, the thirty-two weeks cannot be used after the child reaches the age of nine years.[25]

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V. Parental Leave

Legal co-mothers have the same legal rights as fathers with regard to parental leave (see Part III, above).

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VI. Family or Caregiver Leave

A.    Care for a Child

1.      Day One and Two of a Normal Illness

Military personnel get paid leave as if they themselves were sick when a child is sick, for day one and two of the child’s illness.[26] However, following day two there is no right to paid leave.[27] For purposes of this leave, the child must be less than eighteen years of age and living at home.[28] The right only applies if the parents’ duties make such leave possible.[29] Although not specified in the law, it appears highly unlikely that parents serving abroad could utilize this provision.  Either parent can care for the child on day two regardless of who cared for the child on day one as long as someone cared for the child on day one of his or her illness.[30]

2.      Extraordinary Care for Children

Military personnel also have the right to care for children who are hospitalized or severely ill, or who have a disability.[31] Leave for this form of childcare goes beyond the two days that are granted when the child has a normal cold (compare Part VI(A)(1), above).

3.      Annual Care Days

In addition to care for sick children, parents also get two days of omsorgsdagar(annual care days) to care for a child under seven years of age more generally; no illness is required.[32]Parents in the military are not guaranteed these days but commanders must work with military employees to meet their wishes as far as possible.[33] A precondition for the right to annual care days is that the child either lives with the parent or that the child temporarily lives with the parent under a custody agreement.[34]

B.     Care for Other Family Members

1.      Family Emergencies

When an illness warrants that a member of the military leave his or her post immediately to attend to a family member in an emergency situation, he or she is granted unpaid leave.[35]

2.      Care for a Dying Family Member

The military also offers personnel the right to stay home with a family member that has elected to die in his or her own home.[36]  Such leave is monetarily compensated, provided the municipality has granted such compensation.[37]

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VII. Bereavement

The military has no special rules for leave in connection with bereavement but such leave may be granted as emergency leave without pay.

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Prepared by Elin Hofverberg
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
June 2014

[1] Før forsvarets dag, Forsvaret, (last visited June 25, 2014).

[2] Kvinder i forsvaret, Forsvaret, default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[3] Mange kvinder vil være soldater, DR, Aug. 7, 2013, 2013/08/07102728.htm.  

[4] Lov nr 224 af 22/03/2006 om lønmodtageres ret til fravær fra arbejde af særlige familiemæssige årsager[Leave for Family Reasons Act],

[5] Tjenestefri af familiemæssige årsager, Forsvaret, Tjenestefri_familie/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[6] Når du skal være mor, Forsvaret, vaere_mor/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014). 

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Når du skal være far, Forsvaret, far/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Forsvarets barselskontor, Orientering til fædre omfattet af Statens Barselsaftale 2 (June 2013),ædre%20jun%202013.pdf.

[18]Når du skal være far, supra note 14.

[19] Id.

[20] Når du skal adoptere, Forsvaret, Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Barns 1 og 2 sygedag, Forsvaret, sygedag/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[27] Cirkulære om tjenestefrihed af familiemæssige årsager, CIR nr 9260 af 10/06/2008, https://www.retsinformation. dk/forms/R0710.aspx?id=120421.

[28] Id. art. 1, para. 3(c)–(d).

[29] Id. art. 1, para. 3(b).

[30] Id. art. 1, para. 6.

[31] Barns sygdom, Forsvaret, (last visited June 25, 2014).

[32] Omsorgsdage, Forsvaret, (last visited June 25, 2014).

[33] Id.

[34] Id.

[35] Ulykke og akut sygdom, Forsvaret, sygdom/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014). 

[36] Pasning af nærstående/døende, Forsvaret, naerstaaende/Pages/default.aspx (last visited June 25, 2014).

[37] See Ch. 23: 119-122 Serviceloven [Act on Service] [LBK no. 254 of March 20, 2014], https://www.rets