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Do you know your rights at your student job?

You might think that working conditions for students at student jobs are different or inferior to those that apply to full-time employees. But even if you don't have a 37-hour work week and haven't finished your education, there are absolutely still things you can expect from your employer.

We'll be focusing on the rights you have at a student job, so you know what you can expect. © Jennifer Bedoya, Unsplash

We've asked Teit Bang Heerup and Michael Larsen, consultants at DM, for rules and advice so that you can get an overview of the rights that are central to your student job.

It can be difficult to know what to expect from your employer at a student job. It might be unclear, and you might feel uneasy about pushing the issue. But it's important for you to know that rights and fair working conditions aren't something that only those who have finished their education can expect. They apply every bit as much to those who are working while at uni.

Contracts, contracts, contracts

You have the right to a contract, if you ask for one. If you work an average of 8 or more hours per week, there are special minimum requirements for the contents of your contract, and your employer must provide you with a contract on their own. It's important that it thoroughly describes the terms of your employment. Besides formalities like your name and address, your employer's name and address, and your workplace, you should be certain that the contract specifies:

  • A description of the work to be performed and your position
  • Pay
  • Working hours
  • Any labour agreement that regulates your terms of employment
  • The termination warning period
  • Your rights regarding holidays

A contract can be an important resource if you need to document any irregularities in your student job.

"We've seen students who just got a text message or email that says 'Congrats, you're hired. Can you come in Monday?', and that doesn't cut it. A contract is a piece of paper that forms the basis for your rights", says Teit Bang Heerup, a consultant at DM.

"Of course, a text message or email is fine if it thoroughly describes the nature of the job, but if it's just a kind of superficial message, it makes it harder for us to help if it should become necessary", Heerup explains.

You can still demand a contract even if you work less than 8 hours per week, which is an excellent idea.

"What matters is that you have something in writing that describes the work you'll be performing in sufficient detail. That's an important starting point if something should go wrong", Heerup says.

Isn't it kind of intrusive for me to ask for a contract?

If you feel uneasy about demanding something from your employer, that's understandable. But you have to remember that a contract isn't just a good idea for you — it benefits your employer, too:

"It's in both parties' best interests to have a contract, and taking a little time to draw one up can be a sound investment. The parties can easily forget what they agreed on, so it's important to have something that documents the agreement that was made, should there be a need for it", says Michael Larsen, a consultant at DM.

The Danish Act on… what?

The Danish Act on Salaried Employees ("Funktionærloven") guarantees you your rights at your student job. If you work at an office, in a store, or in sales, for example, this law protects you. It's worth it to familiarise yourself with the law, since among other things, it guarantees:

  • Pay during periods of illness
  • A termination notice period of 1 to 6 months

DM can help you find out if you're covered by the Danish Act on Salaried Employees, and what rights you have.

What if I get sick at the last minute?

Remember that if you get sick, it's not your responsibility to find a replacement for you.While it may come on short notice, and you may feel obligated to help, it's your employer's responsibility to find a replacement for you. Of course, you're welcome to help them if you're able, but it can't be required of you. Contact DM if you have questions about illness.

Do I have the right to paid holiday time?

According to the Danish Holiday Act, all employees have a right to 5 weeks of holiday each year. Whether you receive paid holiday time or holiday compensation depends on where you work. If you are a salaried employee and have been employed for one month or more, you'll generally earn paid holiday time, not holiday compensation. Contact DM if you have questions, or read more about holidays and time off.

Make a note of your working hours

Many workplaces have a system in which employees log their hours, but it's always a good idea for you to also make a note of your hours, such as on a piece of paper or on your phone.

"That's always a good idea. Your working hours might deviate from what's in your contract, or they may not be adequately described. In those cases, it's important that you're able to document them in case you should be receiving a higher pay rate for certain hours in a given month", Heerup explains.

So, make a note of your hours, regardless of whether you're covered by a labour agreement, whether the Danish Act on Salaried Employees applies to your work, and whether you work at a large company or in a café. You are also encouraged to contact DM and get feedback from us if you have any doubts about your rights.

Join DM and MA

If you're a student, your DM membership is free the first year. After the first year your DM membership costs 20 DKK per month.

MA is free throughout your time as a student, as long as you're younger than 30.

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