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Board-level Representation

Employee representation at board level starts in companies with 35 employees and these representatives have one third of the seats.

Employees in Danish companies, both public limited companies (A/S) and limited companies (ApS) employing 35 employees or more, are entitled to elect a number of representatives to the board of directors. The number elected by employees should correspond to half the number elected by those who own the company at the general meeting, and should be at least two (or at least three on the board of the parent company of a group). In effect, this is equivalent to one third of the members of the board of directors. However, on small boards, or if the owners choose an uneven number of board members, the proportion of board members representing the employees may be slightly higher than a third. For example, on a board with five shareholder representatives, there will be three board members representing the employees.

 

There is a two-tier system for public limited companies and a choice between a one-tier or two-tier system for private limited companies. In smaller companies the board of directors is directly responsible for the management of the business. But in larger companies, this is carried out by executives, with the board taking a supervisory role.

The employee representatives, who are elected by the whole workforce, have the same rights and responsibilities as other board members, although they cannot be involved in decisions on industrial disputes.

A majority of employees (55%) in companies with a board have an employee representative on that board (figures from 2011). However, employee board members are much more likely to be found in larger companies. There are employee representatives on the boards of 13% of companies with fewer than 100 employees, 32% of companies with between 100 and 200 employees, 54% of companies with between 200 and 500 employees, and 65% of companies with more than 500 employees.1

Relations between employee and owner representatives are usually characterised by consensus and mutual trust, based on a shared interest in the survival and development of the company. However, a study found that employee representatives – when comparing their attitudes with those of the representatives of the owners – are more likely to take broader stakeholder interests into account, and not just employee interests, but also environment and local community interests2 .

L. Fulton (2015) Worker representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI. Produced with the assistance of the SEEurope Network, online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.