On 3 March 2022, the Danish Parliament adopted an amendment of the Maternity Act which is to strengthen equal treatment and promote a more equal division of leave between men and women. For example, a part of the leave is earmarked for each parent and new rules are introduced on solo parents and LGBT+ families.

The new rules apply to parents of children born or received on 2 August 2022 or later. However, the new rules on solo parents and LGBT+ families will apply to parents of children born or received on 1 January 2024 or later.

Present rules on the right to absence and maternity benefits

The present rules of the Maternity Act generally distinguish between the right to absence and the right to receive maternity benefits.

Right to absence

  • Under the present rules, all pregnant women are entitled to four weeks of pregnancy leave before birth.
  • After birth, the mother is entitled to two weeks of maternity leave and an additional 12 weeks of maternity leave, in total 14 weeks.
  • The father/co-mother is entitled to two weeks of paternity/co-mother leave which generally has to be taken in connection with the childbirth.
  • In addition, both parents are entitled to 32 weeks of parental leave.

Right to receive maternity benefits

  • Under the present rules, the mother is entitled to receive maternity benefits for four weeks before birth and 14 weeks after birth.
  • The father/co-mother is entitled to receive maternity benefits for two weeks after birth.
  • In addition, the parents are together entitled to receive maternity benefits for 32 weeks of the paternity leave which they can split between them.
  • This means that the parents are entitled to a total of 48 weeks of leave with maternity benefits after birth.

Division of leave and maternity benefits under the new rules

The new rules still distinguish between the right to absence and the right to receive maternity benefits.

Right to absence

  • Under the new rules, all pregnant women are still entitled to four weeks of pregnancy leave before birth.
  • After birth, the mother is still entitled to two weeks of maternity leave in connection with the birth. The mother is then entitled to eight weeks of maternity leave, in total 10 weeks of maternity leave. This is an amendment of the previous rules where the mother had 14 weeks of maternity leave. The length of the mother’s maternity leave has therefore been reduced by four weeks.
  • The father/co-mother are still entitled to two weeks paternity/co-mother leave in connection with the birth.
  • Each parent is also still entitled to 32 weeks of additional absence.

Right to receive maternity benefits

  • The new rules are intended to give a more equal division of the right to absence with maternity benefits than under the present rules.
  • The new rules do not amend the extent of the total right to absence with maternity benefits. The parents are therefore still entitled to a total of 48 weeks of leave after birth with maternity benefits. However, the new rules amend the actual division between the parents of the weeks of leave with maternity benefits.
  • The amendments implement a so-called 24/24 model according to which both parents are entitled to 24 weeks of leave with maternity benefits.
  • Under the new rules, the mother is still entitled to maternity benefits for four weeks before the birth.
  • Thereafter, the mother is entitled to maternity benefits for 10 weeks of maternity leave after the birth and for 14 additional weeks of absence.
  • The father/co-mother is also still entitled to maternity benefits for the two weeks of father/co-mother leave. In addition to the above, the father/co-mother is entitled to maternity benefits for 22 additional weeks of absence.
  • Both parents are therefore entitled to maternity benefits for 24 weeks after the birth.As something new, 11 weeks (two weeks in connection with the birth and nine additional weeks of leave) out of the total of 24 weeks of leave with maternity benefits will be earmarked for the mother and the father/co-mother, respectively, and may not be transferred between the parents. The parents are free to transfer between each other the remaining 13 weeks with maternity benefits.
  • If one of the parents does not take his/her nine weeks of earmarked leave, the right to maternity benefits for these weeks will lapse.
  • As the new rules on earmarked leave only cover employees, they do not apply to self-employed persons, unemployed and students.

Possible to postpone a part of the parental leave

It is still possible to postpone a part of the parental leave to be taken before the child reaches the age of nine.

Under the new rules, each parent is entitled to postpone up to five weeks, i.e. in total 10 weeks of their leave. Under the present rules, only one parent is entitled to postpone between eight and 13 weeks of leave.

Possible to transfer maternity leave from the mother to the father

As something new, the mother - provided that she is an employee - may choose to transfer eight out of the 10 weeks of maternity leave to the father/co-mother.

If the leave is transferred because the mother resumes her work full-time, the transferred maternity leave must be taken right away. If the mother transfers a part of the maternity leave but starts leave full-time under the rules on additional leave (previously called parental leave), the transferred maternity leave is not to be taken right away but must be taken within a year after the birth.

Notice on leave to the employer

In connection with absence due to pregnancy and birth, the employee must notify the employer within certain time limits about the expected leave under sections 15-17 of the Maternity Act.

The new rules change the employee’s time limits for notice of absence to the employer.

Solo parents and LGBT+ families

The new rules also introduce special rules on solo parents and LGBT+ families.

Under the new rules, solo-parents are entitled to 22 additional weeks of leave with maternity benefits in addition to the solo parent's other right to leave. A part of the leave may be transferred to a close family member who helps take care of the child.

Under the new rules, it is also possible for the child’s legal parents to transfer a part of the leave to the child’s social parents. This may especially be relevant for LGBT+ families. Social parents are for example the legal parent’s cohabitee or spouse who is intended to undertake the role of a parent.

The new rules on solo parents and LGBT+ families apply to parents of children born or received on 1 January 2014 or later.

Salary during leave relating to pregnancy and birth

The Maternity Act does not govern the employee’s right to salary during absence relating to pregnancy and birth. This issue is governed by collective agreements, individually or according to general maternity schemes at the individual employer and the Salaried Employees Act.

Under the Salaried Employees Act, the mother is entitled to 50 % of the salary during pregnancy and maternity leave for up to 14 weeks after birth. This corresponds to the period which a woman is entitled to maternity leave under the present rules.

Under the new rules, the mother is only entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave, see above. The adopted bill does not amend the Salaried Employees Act, and female salaried employees are therefore still entitled to 50 % of the salary for 14 weeks after birth, notwithstanding that the length of the maternity leave is reduced to 10 weeks under the new rules.

Contacts

Jonas Enkegaard

Partner (L)

Kristine Friis Nolsø

Specialist Attorney

Michelle Seidelin

Attorney