Management at AU will leave the three days of paid holiday alone

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While other state employees are saying goodbye to three employer-paid days of holiday, the senior management team at AU has no plans to cancel the three days off.

2017.02.01 | Marie Groth Andersen

Illustration: Astrid Reitzel

Olav W. Bertelsen, joint union representative for the academic staff at AU (both members of academic staff and administrative staff) Photo: Maria Randima

University Director Arnold Boon. Photo: Lars Kruse

For various state employees, time is up for taking days off with pay on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and Denmark’s Constitution Day. 

The change began back in 2013, when the Danish Ministry of Taxation terminated the three employer-paid days of holiday and the possibility of taking 1 May as a paid day off. This led to the Confederation of Professional Associations bringing the case before an arbitration tribunal because the paid days off where terminated without prior negotiations. Subsequently the management of a number of other governmental organisations, including the former Ministry of Social Affairs, the Regional State Administration and the National Board of Social Services, also decided to stop the paid days off. 

The tribunal’s decision came on Friday of last week, with Justice of the Supreme Court Lars Hjortnæs ruling that the Danish Ministry of Taxation was entitled to terminate the three days of employer-paid holiday. 

Surprised by the decision

Paid days off at AU

The following days are paid holidays at Aarhus University:

Christmas Eve, 24 December; New Year’s Eve, 31 December; Constitution Day, 5 June. 

Employees can take 1 May off by agreement with their immediate supervisor if, in their superior’s opinion, the work situation permits.

Several Danish trade unions have commented on the decision. DJØF (which represents law, business economics and political and social science graduates, ed.) called the decision “unfortunate”, the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs called it “a bomb under the Danish collective bargaining system”, while the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations were surprised by the decision. The same is true of Olav W. Bertelsen, who is joint union representative for the academic staff at AU (both members of academic staff and administrative staff):

"From a rigid legal perspective it might be possible to say that this is some kind of local agreement which can simply be terminated. But for a long time there has been a precedent for considering these days off as employee rights, and I find it strange that this fact isn’t given greater weight," he says and emphasises that he has not yet seen the premises that form the basis for the decision.

Nothing to fear at AU

Despite the decision, employees at AU have no reason to fear losing the three days off which are covered by AU's staff administrative guidelines, as University Director Arnold Boon underlines: 

"The management team has no plans to cancel the three days off. They are part of an agreement between management and employees, and we see no reason to alter that."

Not surprisingly, Olav W. Bertelsen is very happy with this:

"It's sensible of the management not to go after these kinds of savings. Firstly, because there won’t be much to save in an organisation where the majority of the employees are not controlled by duty rosters and time clocks. And secondly, because employee dissatisfaction also costs a lot. The management is sending a very good signal that will benefit the good working climate," he says.

Translated by Peter Lambourne

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Revised 24.05.2017