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Food stall in Copenhagen. Photo: Pixabay

Foreign workers in Denmark hit record high

A record number of more than 380 000 foreigners were employed in Denmark in 2018. They work mainly in agriculture, cleaning and the restaurant industry, according to a new report from the Danish national chamber of commerce, Dansk Erhverv.

Published: July 22, 2019, 11:12 am


    A total of 384 000 foreigners worked in Denmark last year, broadcaster TV2 reported, with around one in three employed in Denmark’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, while one in ten of the total workforce are currently foreigners.

    The number of foreigners working in Denmark has risen every year since registration commenced in 2011.

    “In relation to other countries, the proportion of foreign nationals on the Danish labour market is not especially high. And it is likely to increase further. Because these workers are absolutely necessary if we are to maintain economic growth,” labour market chief Peter Halkær told TV2.

    Researcher Jens Arnholz of the University of Copenhagen’s Employment Relations Research Centre, citing current conditions, said there was “nothing to suggest we will see fewer foreigners coming here to work”.

    TV2 raised concerns about social dumping in its report – the practice of hiring foreign workers for jobs that could be given to local workers in order to save on wages. The construction industry has been highlighted as one industry in which this frequently occurs.

    But according to Halkjær, Danish companies generally complied with rules designed to prevent this practice.

    “These workers are necessary and valuable, and it is fortunately rare for companies to employ on conditions that would not be covered by a Danish union-employer agreement, if one applies. It’s also rare in general for employees not to be treated fairly,” he said.

    Despite a significant number of changes to laws governing foreigners and a tightening up the conditions that allow them to live and work in Denmark, the numbers remain high.

    Figures compiled by the trade union Dansk Metal in February this year, revealed there have never been so many foreign workers in Danish companies.

    In 2018, the numbers amounted to the equivalent of 215 314 full time jobs, an increase of 7,5 percent compared to 2017, reports Børsen.

    According to the Danish employers federation Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening there are still a number of companies struggling to fill positions after the Polish government actively campaigned to persuade Poles working abroad to come home as the domestic economy is going through a period of growth.


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