The Danish Act on Prohibition against Discrimination on the Labour Market was adopted in 1996. The criteria age and disability were added in 2004. The Anti-discrimination Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on the labour market on grounds of:
- Race, colour or ethnic origin
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- National or social origin
- Political opinions
The prohibition against discrimination is effective upon employment, during the employment relationship and upon dismissal. The Act also prohibits harassment and job advertisements that express discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, sexual orientation age, etc.
An employee, who has been subject to discrimination, may claim compensation. Complains about violation of the prohibition on discrimination are heard by the Board of Equal Treatment.
Direct and indirect discrimination
The Act on Prohibition on Discrimination on the Labour Market prohibits both direct as well as indirect discrimination. An example of direct discrimination is when an employer fails to employ a person or dismisses the person because of his or her race, colour, religion or disability.
Indirect discrimination happens when an employer puts up requirements in a job advertisement that are not relevant to job in question, and those requirements target a specific group. A formally neutral requirement may be a language requirement. If such a requirement targets a specific group, for instance individuals of other ethnic origin than Danish, it is a matter of assessment as to whether or not the requirement is relevant in relation to the work task in question.
Special rules regarding discrimination because of age or disability
- Age: The prohibition against discrimination because of age is not absolute. For instance, it is not prohibited to agree on an employee having to retire at the age of 70. There are also special rules regarding dismissal, pay and employment of youths under the age of 18.
- Disability: It is the employer’s duty to adapt the workplace to suit the needs of employees with a disability. This means that an employer must objectively and loyally make an assessment of which workplace adjustments are necessary for a disabled employee to hold the job in question. If the cost of such adjustments is disproportionate, the employer may refuse to employ the applicant. This does not apply to cases where the state pays the costs.
The Act on Prohibition on discrimination on the labour market does not prohibit general labour market initiatives that aim at doing something positive for individual groups. However, the provision on positive discrimination does not allow for an individual employer to launch measures targeted at promoting the representation of other ethnic groups in the workplace. Positive discrimination may only be initiated for the purpose of improving the general employment possibilities of a particular group.
Exemptions in the Act on Prohibition on Discrimination on the Labour Market
In a few cases, the prohibition against discrimination may be dispensed with. For instance, a church may require of its priests and clerks that they are members of the Danish National Church. In other situations, it may be necessary to employ people with particular features in order to hold the position. Such cases require a dispensation from the Ministry responsible for the area in question.
If the employer wishes to measure employee diversity
Under the Act on Prohibition against Discrimination, employers may not collect or use information about the race, ethnicity and religion etc. of an employee. This ban applies no matter how the information has come to the knowledge of the employer.
If an employer wants an overview of the ethnic composition of the staff, Statistics Denmark can run a special analysis based on the civil registration numbers of the employees. The employer needs to contact Statistics Denmark to request such an overview.