Administrative law principles

Changes in terms of employment

Employment relationships develop over time. Managerial authority means that the management is entitled to make decisions about changes to the organisation, tasks, place of work, reporting relationships etc.

If a management decision is considered a decision within the meaning of the Danish Public Administration Act (Forvaltningsloven), it must be accompanied by (written) grounds, and the employee must be consulted before the decision is made.

If the management makes a decision to change the employment terms, which is of significant importance and unfavourable to the party concerned, it follows from the provisions on consultation in the Danish Public Administration Act that the employee must be given an opportunity to make a statement on the change before it is implemented.

All changes in the employment terms may be implemented without notice if the employee and manager agree.

Examples of management decisions that are decisions within the meaning of the Danish Public Administration Act and may thus only be implemented after a consultation procedure and an individual term of notice include: dismissal, summary dismissal, pay cut, geographical relocation of place of work involving significantly longer travel time, completely new position.

Other decisions may be implemented by the management immediately without justification and without consulting the employee. These include decisions on relocating to a new place of work which is geographically relatively close to the current place of work, a new reporting relationship/manager, new/changed tasks which do not change the nature of the position and organisational changes.

In addition, rejections of applications for pay supplement and usual operational measures (actual administrative activities) do not have to be justified by the management.

Access to personal information

The following only concerns access to information relating to employees’ terms of employment.

The legal basis for this is the Danish Public Administration Act (Forvaltningsloven), the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data (Persondataloven) and the Danish Access to Public Administration Files Act (Offentlighedsloven).

According to part 9 of the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data, when the university in connection with HR management registers information about employees, they have a right to be informed of, among other things, which data are being processed and the purposes of the processing.

According to the provisions on access to files by parties to a case (part 4) of the Danish Public Administration Act, if an employee is a party to a case in which a decision is made, the employee may, as a general rule, demand to see the case documents.

An employee is a party to a case if, for example, he or she has been given notice of dismissal or summary dismissal, or if a work-related injury and/or illness has been reported for the employee.

If a third party, e.g. a journalist or a colleague (‘third party’) requests access to information on one or more employees, such request will be processed in accordance with the Danish Access to Public Administration Files Act.

A third party generally does not have a right of access in cases concerning appointment and promotion or in cases concerning the employment of individual public employees.

Information which is available to everyone concerning public employees’ individual employment conditions is information about name, position, education, duties, pay conditions and official travel.

In addition, for employees in management positions, a right of access may be granted to information about disciplinary sanctions such as warning, dismissal or summary dismissal within a period of up to two years from the date of the final decision.

If the university receives a request for access to information on individual employees’ employment conditions, the university will notify the employee of the request and the name of the person making the request. When the university has made a decision on the request for access, the relevant employee(s) will be informed of which data have been disclosed.

Duty to record

According to section 13(1) of the Danish Access to Public Administration Files Act (Offentlighedsloven), if you receive information that may be used as the basis for making an HR administration decision, you must record the content of the information.

It would be relevant, for example, for a manager to record the factual information in an oral complaint about an employee or other information that is important to a decision on a disciplinary sanction.

The factual information should be recorded as soon as possible after the information has been received.


The staff policy and the rules on impartiality and conflict of interest exist to protect both the university and the individual employee.

If someone is disqualified under these rules, this means they must refrain from participating in the consideration of a matter. This is a legal concept, not a moral one.

In order to ensure correct and legal decisions and to avoid suspicion that extraneous considerations may be taken into account in the consideration of a matter, the Danish Public Administration Act describes various situations in which public-sector employees are disqualified from participating in the consideration of a matter. According to the Act, public-sector employees are, as a general rule, disqualified from participating in the consideration of a matter if they, or a closely related person, have a special personal or financial interest in the outcome of the matter. Recipients of grants from foundations are subject to the same rules.

‘A closely related person’ means parents, children, spouses, in-laws and nephews and nieces. Long-term cohabiting relationships are equated with marriage. In addition, stepchildren, close friends/enemies and possibly other family members who are frequently in the company of the employee are also included.

Consequences of disqualification

If a public-sector employee is disqualified in respect of a specific matter, the employee may not make decisions about the matter, take part in such decisions, or otherwise be involved in considering the matter in question.

An employee who is disqualified, or who thinks that they might be disqualified, with regard to the consideration of a particular matter has a duty to to inform their manager as soon as possible. The employee’s immediate manager decides whether they are disqualified. The practical consequence of disqualification will typically be that the work assignment/matter is transferred to a colleague or manager.

There may be exceptional situations in which the matter cannot be transferred to someone else, even though disqualification has been established. This would be the case if transferring responsibility for considering the matter would be extremely difficult or impossible.

AU’s guidelines for close personal relationships are available here.


If the university in its capacity as employer makes a decision within the meaning of the Danish Public Administration Act (Forvaltningsloven) which is not in every particular in favour of the party concerned, the grounds for such decision must be given according to the Act.

In other words, decisions that will generally be perceived as having serious and unpleasant implications must be justified.

According to section 23(2) of the Danish Public Administration Act, if the employee is notified of a decision orally, he or she may subsequently demand that written grounds for the decision be given.

Under public administration law, grounds do not have to be given for management measures taken under managerial authority, but this is usually done in practice.

For example, if an employee is dismissed or summarily dismissed, the university is obliged to give grounds for the decision according to section 22(1) of the Danish Public Administration Act.

The grounds for the decision must refer to the rules and regulations on which the decision is based. If the decision rests on administrative discretion, the grounds must also state the main considerations taken into account when such discretion was exercised. If required, the grounds must also include a brief account of the facts of the case deemed to be of paramount importance in making the decision, see section 24 of the Danish Public Administration Act.

Duty of confidentiality

During your employment at the university, you may be given confidential information which you are not allowed to mention or disclose in any way under the provisions of the Danish Penal Code (Straffeloven) on confidentiality. This also applies after your employment at the university ends. In addition to the provisions of the Danish Penal Code on criminal liability, any issues concerning processing and disclosure of personal information are regulated by the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data (Persondataloven).

Information is confidential when it is necessary to keep it secret to safeguard the university’s interests or not to disclose information about the personal affairs of individuals.

Administrative law principles related to employment

In cases involving staff administrative decisions, the university is subject to a “double legal basis”. This means that, in addition to complying with the usual rules of employment generally in force on the labour market, the university must also comply with public administrative law principles.

The Danish Public Administration Act contains a number of administrative law principles and rules that generally apply to case processing in the public administration, and consequently also to the area of employment law.

In addition to the Danish Public Administration Act, the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data and the Access to Public Administration Files Act also contain relevant administrative law principles.

Among other things, the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data regulates when individually identifiable data may be processed and disclosed.

Among other things, the Danish Access to Public Administration Files Act contains provisions on what personal data the public has access to.    


A person is allowed to be represented by others during the processing of a case, including a personnel case. However, it is not possible to send a representative instead of attending a meeting in person, if personal participation is of importance to the decision of the case (see section 8 of the Danish Public Administration Act).

It is up to the employee to decide who he or she wants to appoint as a companion in a personnel case.

If another person represents the employee in writing, the university will ensure that the representative has the necessary power of attorney to represent the employee who is a party to the case.

Audio recording of meetings

If you are asked to attend a meeting with regard to your employment at AU, you must get permission from your manager if you wish to audio record the meeting.

For all meetings that permit you to bring a companion, such as sickness absence interviews or disciplinary meetings, minutes will taken of the meeting. Therefore it is not necessary to record the meeting, because the minutes will summarise and document the important issues discussed, and your companion can support you both during and after the meeting.

However, if you still believe you have a good reason to record this type of meeting, you must obtain approval from your manager and from all the other meeting participants before recording it. As an employee, you are not entitled to record a meeting with your manager if you have not received your manager’s permission to do so.