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Work at Akkord and earn more money

In Denmark, it is quite common for workers and employers to make a so-called Akkord agreement, and the workers who work on Akkord usually earn much more than their colleagues who are paid by the hour.

An Akkord agreement is an agreement between the workers and their employer about how much money the workers will be paid each time they complete a product. The piece rate salary is therefore calculated based on measurable results, for example the number of m2 cast concrete floor. Let's imagine that four workers are hired to pour a large concrete floor and are paid DKK 10 per m2 they cast. The four workers cast 400 m2 in one working day, and each worker therefore earns ((400x10)/4) DKK 1,000. before tax that day.

Akkord is popular among many Danish construction workers because it ensures that the worker gets a cash reward for making an extra good work effort. But akord is also a popular pay system in many Danish companies, because the company is sure of getting a finished product at an agreed price. This makes it easy for the company to calculate a price for the customer.

How are the prices calculated in an Akkord agreement?

The trade unions and employers' organizations have negotiated prices for almost all work carried out on a construction site, and they constitute a minimum price for a given piece of work carried out at Akkord. This means that you are welcome to agree on prices that are higher, but not lower, than the union's price lists. Akkord prices increase with each collective agreement renewal, just as the minimum wage also increases. If there is a type of work for which a price has not already been made, then the organizations can meet and agree on the price.

The trade unions have employed experts, the so-called Opmålere, who help the trade union members make Akkord agreements, calculate the salary and check whether the company's proposal for a price is too low, in relation to the agreed prices. In 2021, the union's Surveyors in Greater Copenhagen were involved in agreements which affected approximately 2914 colleagues and paid a total of approximately DKK 275 million. 

You can visit the union's surveyors and see the prices in Danish via this link: http://opmålerforeningen.dk

What does an Akkord agreement look like?

An Akkord agreement naturally describes what work is to be carried out and the price for the work, but the agreement must also describe the circumstances under which the work is to be carried out.

If we take the concrete floor as an example, it is important that all parts of the floor are known and included in the agreement. 

It could be, for example:

  • How many pipe penetrations must be placed in the floor?
  • How many m3 of concrete should be used for the floor and what type of concrete should the floor be cast with?
  • How many kilos of iron bars must be laid in the floor?
  • What should the surface of the floor look like?
  • Should formwork be built?

Next, the circumstances of the work must be described, so that you agree on who is responsible for what. 

It could be, for example:

  • The company ensures that the materials are delivered on time and no more than 20 meters from the work site.
  • The company provides everything needed to carry out the work, such as working drawings, cranes, scaffolding, tools, electricity, water, etc.
  • The company also ensures that the workers can get to work and are not interrupted all the time, for example because the excavation of the floor is not ready.
Finally, the agreement must be signed by both parties, preferably before the work really starts.

It is a prerequisite for Akkord that the company lives up to their part of the agreement. If this does not happen, the workers must be paid extra via a so-called Akkord note. It is quite normal that a very large part of the earnings in an Akkord comes from these notes.

How much do you usually earn at Akkord?

In the nature of the matter, you cannot say anything about what you normally earn on an Akkord. If it goes well, you can make a lot of money, if it goes badly, you can end up making very little, maybe nothing at all, if it goes completely wrong. To avoid a total disaster, you can possibly agree on a top and a bottom for how much and how little the workers can earn from a project.

But having said that, most people who work at Akkord earn much more than their hourly colleagues. A study among carpenters in the greater Copenhagen area, in April-May 2022, showed that the hourly waged carpenters earned an average of DKK 218.3/hour, while their colleagues on piecework earned an average of DKK 308/hour.

Do you have special rights and duties when working at Akkord?

When you have signed an Akkord agreement with your employer, you have the right to the work that the agreement is about. So you can't just be fired. In return, you have also undertaken to carry out the work, and the workers in the agreement cannot simply find a new job.

Most Akkord agreements also give the workers special rights to plan and organize the work themselves as they see fit. Many Danish construction workers are very proud of having this freedom.

How do you get to work on Akkord?

It is of course best if the employer is also interested in using the Akkord system, but according to most collective agreements in construction, the workers may demand to work on Akkord. If you do completely new brickwork, you actually have to work on Akkord.

In principle, all work can be done on Akkord, but the more complicated and varied the work, the more difficult it becomes to calculate productivity. It could, for example, be renovation work in an old house, where you really don't know what needs to be repaired before you start the work. In these cases, it might be best not to work on Akkord.

If you are interested in working at Akkord, or want to know more about Akkord, contact your trade union. https://tema.3f.dk/bjmfimmigrant/about-the-union