A few years ago, during the peak July vacation season, SAS had to cancel a large number of flights out of Denmark.
This is because too many SAS pilots had taken vacation…during the vacation season.
Now, SAS promised that would never happen again, and to my knowledge, it hasn’t.
But this is part of a wider culture in Denmark, that the needs of the employee are often seen as more important than the needs of the customer.
World’s most efficient workers
Danes are excellent workers. In fact, they’re some of the most efficient workers in the world. They work very short hours, but they work hard. You rarely meet someone incompetent in Denmark.
But Danes also demand a lot of their employers. A full-time employee gets more than 5 weeks of paid vacation a year, 6 if you count the Danish public holidays. Employers also contribute to a vacation fund, so you can enjoy your holiday.
If you get a job at a big company in Denmark, you’ll have a pension, and probably life insurance. Big companies will even pay for private health care, so you don’t have to wait in line for the public health service.
Membership in the fruit plan
Even smaller companies usually offer a lunch plan, so you can get tasty food at a low price without leaning the office, and a fruit plan, so every employee gets a couple of healthy snacks per day.
These are seen as rights, not benefits. There was a front-page piece in the newspaper Politiken last week about temporary employees, some of whom were not paid for days off on public holidays and not allowed to be part of the fruit plan. This was seen as really outrageous.
Although it’s not universal, you won’t have to go far in Denmark to find someone with the idea that a job is there to serve them, as opposed to them serving the job.
Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2019