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Supreme Court of Denmark

Compensation for exceeding the maximum weekly working hours 

Case no. 299/2016

Judgment delivered on 14 November 2017

3F acting for A
X Entreprenør & Maskinstation represented by B

Employee awarded DKK 50,000 in compensation for having worked for more than 48 hours on average per week during several four-month reference periods

The case concerned the amount of the compensation to be awarded to an employee due to his employer’s failure to observe the 48-hour limit stipulated in the Danish Act implementing parts of the Working Time Directive. The purpose of the rule on the maximum number of weekly working hours is to protect the health and safety of workers. The compensation is not meant to cover a financial loss, but to compensate for the additional workload caused by the extra working hours.

The Supreme Court ruled that the compensation should, as a starting point, be set at DKK 25,000, unless there were any special grounds for awarding a higher or lower amount.

A had repeatedly worked hours exceeding the statutory 48-hour limit for a period of several years, and in several reference periods he had worked significantly more than allowed. This overtime was entirely voluntary and was fully paid. Considering how many times the 48-hour limit had repeatedly been exceeded, the Supreme Court assessed the compensation for A at DKK 50,000.

The High Court had reached the same conclusion.

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