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?
In 2017, the Danish government adopted new rules for voluntary work while on unemployment benefits or early retirement benefits. 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 Along with the agreement, the previous time limits were superseded by less rigorous time limits.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
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
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.
In general, when you receive sickness benefits there are no restrictions on what type of voluntary social work you can participate in.
Nonetheless, there are various factors that can effect your benefits:
- Your voluntary work must neither delay your healing or deterioate your health.
- Your volunteer work must not interfere with your cooperation with the municipality or the necessary follow-ups.
- You must pay attention to of the type of voluntary work you do, as the municipality may consider that you are no longer entitled to sickness benefit if you can carry out comprehensive and demanding volunteer work.
We recommend that you always inform your case worker and get the volunteer activity approved to ensure that you are not in breach of the conditions of your case ruling in a way where you could be cut in or even lose the right to sickness benefits.
In general, there are no restrictions on your right to volunteer when you receive early retirement benefit.
However, you must be aware that your voluntary work can be included in the assessment of whether there has been an improvement in your ability to work.
If your voluntary work starts to resemble the extent and character of a regular job, doubt can be raised about the degree of your reduced work ability.
We recommend that you contact your case worker to have your voluntary activity approved in order to avoid any doubt about your abililty to work in a regular job.
If you are employed in a flexible job for people with a reduced ability to work and thus receive flexible job pay, we recommended that you always contact your case worker before you begin in your voluntary activity.
Even though you are approved for a job for people with a reduced a ability to work, flexible job pay is a public benefit and the municipality must have knowledge of your voluntary activity. Otherwise you may risk being deducted in your flexible job pay if your municipality find grounds for reevaluating the degree of your ability to work.
In general, there are no limits to what you can do within voluntary work if you are under 40 and participate in an individual resource clarification process.
You have to bear in mind that when the municipality prepares your resource clarification process, your volunteer work can be included as an assessment factor, for example in assessing your ability to work in a regular job.
You should also be aware that your volunteer efforts can be included in a continuous assessment of whether you have improved your ability to work during the resource clarification process.
NB!: It is no longer possible to be granted early retirement benefit if you are under 40. Instead an individual and comprehensive effort (a so called 'ressourceforløb') will be set in motion to develop your ability to work and help youmove forward in life.
Before initiating a volunteer effort, it is important that you clarify with your unemployment insurance fund ('a-kasse') how they will categorise this perticular volunteer efforts. If it is a voluntary activity you should be allowed up to 15 hours a week.
Before you can start your volunteer efforts, you will need to fill out at form through your unemployment insurance fund that they must approve. If you do not comply with the rules and do not inform your unemployment insurance fund, you may risk reducing your public benefit payout.
If you receive state pension or student grants, there are no limitations on the type of volunteer activity you can engage in and for how long.