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A snail’s pace does not mean overtime

This is the result of a new ruling by the Danish Labour Court which found that a slow pace of work does not equal overtime. Businesses are only under obligation to pay for ‘booked’ overtime.
The Danish Labour Court has ruled that a company does not have to pay an employee DKK 250,000 for overtime. The employee should have been able to complete his designated tasks within the standard 37 hours specified by the applicable collective agreement.

Publiceret: 19.08.2016
Af Karen Witt Olsen mail

A technical inspector whose job was to drive around visiting companies in Jutland was not able to get all his work done within the 37 hours a week specified as working hours by the Collective Agreement for Salaried Employees in Industry.

When the inspector was fired in 2013, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions instigated proceedings at the Danish Labour Court on behalf of the inspector’s trade union: the inspector wanted a quarter of a million Danish kroner for overtime worked between 2010 and 2013.


The trade union claimed that the company had given the inspector so much work that he was not able to complete it all within his designated working hours. The company claimed that it was the inspector’s own fault that he had had to spend additional time completing his work.

The Confederation of Danish Employers handled the case on behalf of the company and the company was acquitted.

“The judge believed that as the inspector’s colleagues and his successor were able to get their work done in the allocated time, it was the inspector who had failed to plan well enough – and that means that this was not a case of booked overtime,” says Senior Consultant and Solicitor Anders Toft Hansen from the Confederation of Danish Industry.

He explains that the rules on overtime contained in the Collective Agreement for Salaried Employees in Industry are very clear. For example, if a business tells an employee that he or she has to stay on for two more hours to complete an order, these hours are ‘booked’ and thereby constitute overtime. Such overtime triggers specific rates of pay.

In the case of the inspector, he was very much free to plan his work and his working day.

“The acquittal shows that the company did not attempt to circumvent the rules of the collective agreement and try to give the inspector a pile of extra work without paying for it. This is very gratifying,” says Anders Toft Hansen.

Employees have to let employers know

The senior consultant and solicitor from the Confederation of Danish Industry explains that the court had stressed that the inspector had waited several years before telling his employer that he had more work than he could handle in the space of 37 hours.

“Because the inspector did not raise the issue earlier and say that he did not think he could complete his work within normal working hours, he did not comply with the principle of limitation of losses. Employees have to raise any issues as soon as possible to give their employer a chance to react,” explains Anders Toft Hansen.


The acquittal shows that the company did not attempt to circumvent the rules of the collective agreement and try to give the inspector a pile of extra work without paying for it. This is very gratifying.
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PUBLISHED: 8/19/2016 LAST MODIFIED: 2/11/2017