If you receive unemployment benefits, early retirement benefit or other public benefits, there are a number of rules that you should be aware of if you want to do volunteer work.

We recommend this guide (in Danish) about the rules for volunteers receiving public benefits. It is made by Center for Voluntary Social Work (CFSA). If you are looking for the specific rules for unemployment benefits or early retirement, we recommend CFSA’s guide for volunteers on unemployment benefits or early retirement benefits.

I addition to consulting these guides, we encourage you to contact your ‘A-kasse’ (unemployment insurance fund), union, job center or caseworker before starting a voluntary job to make sure that you comply with the rules. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you comply with the rules in your given situation.

Voluntary activity or Voluntary unpaid work?

On the 26th of August 2017, the Danish government adopted new rules for voluntary work while on unemployment benefits or early retirement benefits. The regulation came into effect on January 1st 2018 and will continue to be in effect for an initial period of two years. Read more on Altinget: civil society (in Danish). Along with the agreement, the previous time limits were superseded by less rigorous time limits.

You should pay special attention to the type of voluntary effort you take part in and be aware of the distinctions

  • Voluntary activity - characterised as an activity you would ordinarily not find offered as regular wage labour; for example being a visitor at nursing home (Danish term: 'besøgsven') would not be regarded as normal wage labour.
  • Voluntary unpaid work - characterised as an effort which in principle could be offered as ordinary wage labour even though it is performed voluntary and unpaid in a non-profit organisation. An example of this could be lawyers who offer voluntary and free legal aid in a NGO.

Depending on the type of effort that you take part in and how much you do, it might have implication for your case and your right to benefits. Therefore, Frivilligjob.dk always recommend that you contact your unemployment insurance fund (A-kasse), union, job center or case worker to obtain prior approval of you volunteer efforts. In principle, there is no hourly limit if your efforts can be charaterised as an voluntary activity, but you must be aware that there is a requirement of you being an available part of the workforce.

Likewise, it is a must that the voluntary work is performed in a voluntary association. According to the new rules this may also be in sports associations which previously have not beenfully covered by the rules. It is important to note that if you do voluntary work in a municipality or company, it may be set off against your benefit payouts.

I you receive social security and want to perform voluntary work, there is only one requirement in the legislation: The voluntary work must not prevent you from being available to the labour market. You may do voluntary work both in the public sector and NGOs.

The voluntary work must be a voluntary activity and thus cannot be activities that may otherwise be offered to paid employees such as voluntary debt counselors. When your volunteer activity can be categorised as a volunteer activity, you are usually entitled to using 15 hours a week on voluntary work.

You must remeber to inform your municipality of your volunteer work.