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Denmark – Temporary worker numbers surge as benefits cut

14 January 2014

The country’s major employment agencies are experiencing a massive influx of unemployed people trying to secure temporary work so that they don’t lose their unemployment benefits or are forced into early retirements, reports politiken.dk.

Kristian Nærø, Head of Manpower Denmark, commented: “Even if we weren’t gathering statistics, we would notice that there are a lot of benefit claimants among those looking for temporary work. And they are much more hungry for work then we’re used to, and are prepared to accept temporary positions with job descriptions that are far from their usual profession and salary level. Some say, ‘I’ll take anything’.”

The Temporary Staffing Industry Organisation (VB) recently completed an unpublished analysis of the industry in 2013, which shows that there has been a surge in the number of temporary workers who now number about 25,000.

According to the trade union 3F, the halving of the unemployment benefit period from four year to two is a key factor driving many unemployed people to find temporary work.

Bjarne Mortensen, Secretary for Negotiations for 3F, commented: “There is no doubt that the unemployment benefit austerity measures have helped increase the number of temporary workers. When people are about to fall out of the unemployment benefit system, they become more aggressive in finding work.”

The increased competition for work has forced a lot of people to accept jobs below their skill-level, and in some instances under illegal working conditions. There have been reports of people being paid less than their colleagues, having no pension provision, and no holiday pay.    

Mr Mortensen added: “They will take almost anything to prevent them from falling out of the system. This means that we don’t hear about law breakers because people would rather not raise a case against them and risk losing the opportunity to get a new temporary position. It’s a great group of people that we are losing.”

White-collar trade union HR has also found that the unemployed are becoming more and more desperate in their search for work and an income.

Klara Hoffritz, a lawyer for HK Private, said: “If it’s a cleaning job they’ll take that too. It’s simply about getting food on the table and they are desperate. What we are seeing is the consequence of a shorter benefits period and a growing desire from employers to get more flexibility in the workforce.”   

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