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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case DK-2020-14/1612 – measures in Denmark

Danish industrial companies change production to protective equipment

Danske virksomheder ændrer produktionen til værnemidler

Country Denmark , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 30 March 2020
Type Company practices
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/innovation
Author Carsten Jørgensen (FAOS, University of Copenhagen), Anders Randrup (Oxford Research) and Eurofound
Case created 18 December 2020 (updated 27 January 2021)

Background information

After the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus in Denmark, the country almost literally closed down on 12 March 2020. Economic life was put on hold. Most important in the midst of this was that the health sector did not have sufficient virus test material or protective equipment for the personnel to deal with increasing hospitalization of corona-contaminated people. To this end, companies in the manufacturing industry sector realized that they could deliver some of the needed items by switching production. They already had the basic tools.

Content of measure

When the corona crisis broke out in full scale, the Danish health sector lacked equipment to face the thread of a rapid increasing number of patients at the hospitals. The majority of the most needed protective equipment was imported from China. Given the global demand for these items, an extra supply chain was necessary. At the same time, many Danish industrial companies lost their markets from one day to another and employees were furloughed in great numbers. However, a combination of state recommendations and personal ingenuity from many SMEs resulted in a major switch of existing production with the aim to supply the health sector with sufficient materials, such as clothing, hand disinfectant and face shields. Some examples: A Copenhagen based company with 10 employees, Signwork Print and Signs, made signs, boards and campaign products to trade fairs, industry shows, event companies and Copenhagen Airport. These companies were some of the first to be hit severely by close down, among other reasons due to the ban of assembly of more than 500 persons and the closure of airports. Plexiglass was one of Signwork’s main products. Inspired by the use of plexiglass to protect the employees at the cash registers in the supermarkets, the owner got the idea to make similar products including the needed face shields of plastic. His aim was to secure the business and keep workplaces.

Within a week, the company changed the production and was able to deliver face shields and other plastic equipment to municipalities and companies. Bornholm Snaps makes and deliver liquor to restaurants and shops. The sales dropped immediately, and the company started to replace the fall in production of beverages with production of hand disinfectant, which in the first weeks after the serious outbreak of corona virus were an article in short supply in Denmark.

The breweries Carlsberg and Albani delivered ciderbase with alcohol that could be turned into hand disinfectant. Plastic manufacturing companies of a broad scale, including the toy manufacturer LEGO, deliver face shields and other protective plastic products to the health sector. Other Danish MNCs have made their production facilities available for the authorities, e.g. Grundfos, and the pharmaceutical MNC Novo Nordisk makes corona tests for the state in one of their laboratories. The readiness is great, and so is the breadth of companies, which includes both large production companies and tailors at The Royal Theater, who sew surgical masks.

Use of measure

There is no particular evaluation or number about the use of the measure. However, it is obviuos that the single initiatives have been widely welcomed. The Danish Medicines Authority informed (as of 22 April 2020) that at least 2,000 companies had offered to change production to protective equipment, if needed.

Contents

  • Employment retention
  • Other topics
  • Work organisation

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers SMEs
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level

Involvement

The social partners were not involved in the specitfic cases of companies that reorganised its production. However, DI (Confederation of Danish Industries) coordinated efforts from companies that had contacted with the Danish Medicines Authority with proposals of changing to corona-related production. This initative has its own entry in this database.The social partners on both sides were not involved in the initiatives mentioned here.

Views and reactions

The social partners indeed welcomed initiatives on changing production to corona-related protective equipment or other corona relevant changes in production and work organisation. Mainly for two reasons. On one side, it saved businesses and on the other it kept the workforce in the company instead of being furloughed.

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Danish industrial companies change production to protective equipment, case DK-2020-14/1612 (measures in Denmark), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.