13 tips on HR law for you as a manager in Denmark

Are you also groping blindly as a manager – learn here what you may and may not do as a manager

Do you know the rules which you as manager have the right and duty to follow? Use these simple 13 tips on HR law to become a better manager by communicating clearly and managing safely and efficiently to increase the well-being of the employees and their productivity.

As a manager you often need to act in situations where HR law forms part of the basis of your decision. Therefore, you need to know the rights and obligations of your employees.

Most managers wrongly believe that they can just “outsource” HR law to the HR department. This causes them to grope in darkness in their daily (lack of) management of their employees. They are uncertain as to what they may and may not do. This paralyzes them. They remain passive and do nothing hoping that the challenges will disappear by themselves. But problems don’t just disappear, they escalate. On the other hand, the passivity of the manager causes a lot of frustration with the employees. Their well-being at the workplace decreases which leads to stress-related sick notes.

All HR management starts and ends with the manager. That is why the manager plays a key role. You have the day-to-day contact with the employee and you will be the first one to face the challenges when the employee has excessive absences from work, does not cooperate, underperforms, does not take holidays, is disloyal, is to be terminated with or without notice, etc. You need to improve your knowledge, know your legal tools and options so that you can act efficiently and take on the management role.

Knowing HR law improves your ability to see the options and to make faster and better decisions and to avoid all the pitfalls that are costly for the business – both in management, human and finance terms. With an overview of the legal framework and tools, you will manage safely, clearly and efficiently, thereby creating

  • a successful management role for you
  • trust, safety and well-being for your employees and
  • improved performance of the business

Here are 13 tips on HR law for you as a manager:

1. Stay ahead – HR management begins and ends with you

  • Recognize you play a key role to secure compliance with HR law – you are closer to the employee than the HR department.
  • Get an overview of HR law and take it into account early.
  • Know the legal options so you can think and manage clearly and efficiently.
  • Get documentation in writing.

2. Walk the talk – Doing nothing is the root of all evil

  • Take action – problems with employees don’t go away by themselves, they require action. The most typical mistake among managers is inaction, which has undesirable consequences – both managerial and legal.
  • Listen, clear up misunderstandings and align expectations – follow up as soon as possible.
  • Give a legally correct warning to the employee if necessary.

3. Know the duty of loyalty

  • Understand that the duty of loyalty is a fundamental employment obligation and applies both to managers and employees.
  • Be loyal to your employees and expect loyalty from them.
  • Be aware that the employees have a duty of loyalty when they communicate on social media, with the colleges, managers, customers etc.

4. Take on management – remember your managerial right and duty

  • Lead and distribute work tasks – you decide who, when, and how to work – you have the right of instruction.
  • Use your managerial right to ensure the best use of business resources – follow up and handle any problems.
  • Remember your duty to manage – take your management role seriously and show character.

5. Know the illegal criteria – avoid discrimination

  • Know the illegal criteria such as gender, pregnancy, disability, age, ethnicity, sexuality, religious and political convictions.
  • Do not let them influence your management decisions – whether upon recruitment, during employment or upon dismissal.
  • Understand that documentation requirements are stricter in case of alleged discrimination.

6. Communicate clearly – give the required warning

  • Understand that you do everybody a disfavour by not giving the required warning – the problem will just escalate.
  • Remember that warnings actually give the employees legal certainty – a second chance to improve themselves.
  • Make sure that the legal requirements for a warning are met.

7. Make your employees understand you care – also the sick

  • Follow up on your employee’s absence, engage and have an absence conversation – without asking for information about the sickness.
  • Ask for documentation (medical certificate), if necessary.
  • Listen to your employee’s private issues but do not necessarily help solving them. (depending on your personal management style and the corporate culture of your business)

8. Send your staff on holiday – also for your own sake

  • Ensure that your employees’ holidays are scheduled and held during the holiday year according to the guidelines of the business – this is a manager’s duty.
  • Understand that poor holiday planning and follow-up have consequences for your employees’ health, the working environment and financial performance of the business.

9. Stop harassment and bullying – it is your responsibility too

  • Take action if you experience any form of harassment or bullying and show the employees that they can come to you – speak to both parties.
  • Be aware that you could also be seen as the bully.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that no harassment or bullying takes place at the workplace under working environment, equal treatment and antidiscrimination laws.

10. Manage working time 

  • Remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that no employees work more than 48 hours a week over a period of 4 months.
  • Make sure to observe the 48 hours rule no matter whether the employee wishes to work more, manages his or her working hours or is paid for overwork.

11. Take care of personal data – including references

  • Ensure that you take care of your employee`s personal data and that EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Act on Supplementary Provisions to the GDPR Protection Act are observed upon recruitment, during employment and at dismissal.
  • Get a written consent (freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous), both when you give and receive personal data such as references.

12. Beware of the employee’s emails and text messages

  • Be careful not to read your employee´s emails and messages, even if you have a suspicion – the secrecy of correspondence protected by the Criminal Code also applies here.
  • Get legal advice – both on HR law, Personal Data law and criminal law, before you take action.

13. Avoid firefighting and get advice in good time

  • Always get legal advice when changing employment terms or terminating employees with or without notice – employment is highly regulated.
  • Mistakes are costly – both in terms of management, human and financial costs.

This article was written by Nilgün Aydin, lawyer specializing in HR law and Personal Data law.

If you need any advice, sparring or seminars on Danish HR law or Personal Data Protection law please contact me on na@naydin.dk.

You can find the Danish version of this article here on my website  https://naydin.dk/2017/11/07/famler-du-ogsaa-i-blinde-som-leder-stil-skarpt-paa-hvad-du-maa-og-ikke-maa/