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Danish deal to compensate workers affected by coronavirus struck between government, bosses and trade unions

DANISH authorities have won praise after striking a deal with unions and employers to avoid coronavirus causing job losses and financial detriment to workers forced into quarantine.

Under the tripartite agreement, the government will pay 75 per cent of quarantined workers’ wages and their employer will pick up the remainder of the bill. Employees will give up five days’ annual leave in order to qualify for the compensation.

The scheme will be applied retrospectively for three month from March 9 and applies to employers of 50 or more workers that have to lay off at least 30 per cent of their staff.

At the same time, bosses agreed not to sack workers for financial reasons while they are receiving compensation from the government to keep their firms afloat.

Prime Minister Mette Frederikson said: “The echo of what we are doing now will be heard in the future. It is now that we are laying the groundwork so that companies and employees get the best through the crisis.”

The scheme is set to cost the government an estimated 2.6 billion krona, but the intervention was deemed necessary because job losses are already being seen in Denmark and more are expected as the coronavirus outbreaks spreads.

A ceiling of 23,000 krona has been set for salaried employees while the cap for hourly paid workers is 26,000 krona, equating to 90 per cent of their salary.

“Denmark is in an extraordinary situation. Therefore I am pleased that we have extraordinarily responsible companies, trade unions and employees,” Mr Frederikson said.

“We have a great understanding that you want to send employees home, but don't fire them. We must do everything we can to protect Danish business and employees from the crisis as is possible.”

Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen said funds have been set aside for 70,000 workers but he confirmed that there was no cap on the numbers that can be helped.

“It's an investment that will be very expensive. But the alternative is that even more would be made unemployed at a time when the opposite is needed,” he said.

Trade-union negotiator Lizette Risgaard welcomed the agreement.

“Extraordinary situations require extraordinary solutions. This agreement will make a significant positive contribution to providing security for employees in this difficult situation,” she said.

At least three people have died in Denmark after contracting coronavirus and there are 864 confirmed cases. According to the National Board of Health, up to 580,000 Danes risk becoming infected and between 1,680 and 5,600 people are at risk of dying.


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