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What is a virtual phone number – and should you get one?

From globalisation to the increase in remote working, we look at why virtual phone numbers are on the rise, and how they can improve the way you live and work today.

What is a virtual phone number – and should you get one?
More people are realising the benefits of having a virtual phone number. Photo: Getty Images

One of the great benefits of the world’s technological advances that we enjoy today is communication. No, not TikTok – though it has its place – but the improved cost, convenience and flexibility of phone calls and messaging. 

The days of baulking at the cost of making an international call from your work phone, or paying for an expensive public payphone card to call home while travelling are long gone. 

More and more people – from those living abroad to travellers to business owners to workers – are using virtual phone numbers to save money, work remotely, run businesses and communicate across the globe in ways that were simply not possible in decades past. 

Together with telecommunication provider Zadarma and its nomadic entrepreneur and co-founder Dmytro Tokar, The Local fills you in on what a virtual phone number is and why this easy and inexpensive piece of tech is worth adopting. 

So, what is a virtual phone number anyway?

Instead of needing a fixed and physical connection, a virtual phone number is cloud based and uses the internet. This means you can use the number for calls and messaging from any device that has internet access. 

Calls can be redirected or routed from the one number to another device, IP address or number. So the same number could be seamlessly carried from the phone in your office across to your mobile phone if you are out and about, for example.

“You can think of it as a regular phone number with additional perks. It is easy to connect a number from another country, calls will be coming in via the internet and the caller will never feel the difference,” explains Zadarma’s Dmytro.

Whether for work, life or travel, learn more about virtual phone number services from Europe’s leader in business phone systems, Zadarma

Why get a virtual phone number?

For travellers and people living internationally, avoiding roaming charges and enjoying cheaper call rates is a big bonus. 

Using a company like Zadarma, for example, setting up a virtual phone number takes just five minutes – so it is very easy to be up and running quickly and from almost any country in the world. 

“At Zadarma, we take safety and security of our services and clients very seriously, so there are no risks associated with virtual number connection. Having a number in a different country can be beneficial for a variety of reasons from bureaucracy and banking to getting a call from your food delivery service,” says Dmytro.

Remote worker benefits

At Zadarma, many staff members work “nomadically”, something that Dmytro is very familiar with himself. It’s a set-up that suits the business and employees and hasn’t changed their performance, he says.

“We do not see the reason to limit our employees in any way. Some currently live and work from other parts of the planet.”

The key to making it work? Communication. “Communication cannot be overrated when it comes to remote employees. There can be months before meeting a new employee, but making the effort to establish a connection can ensure that everyone on the team is working towards advancing the company.”

For entrepreneurs like Dmytro, using Zadarma’s own communication tool and virtual phone numbers means he can connect all his employees to the one network, no matter where he or or his workers are based. 

And Zadarma is obviously not alone in this way of working – 69 percent of 1,300 CEOs surveyed in 2021 are moving toward a virtual workforce, according to KPMG.

Virtual phone numbers are particularly well-suited to remote workers, startups, remote companies, and people, whether working or not, who are regularly travelling. 

Click here to set up your virtual office in five minutes

Business benefits

In today’s modern world, where people are often not working from a fixed office, it is important for companies to adapt and use the tools available to them. 

“Work processes will never be the same. For most companies, the lockdown has proven that having all employees working from the same space is not a key to success,” says Dmytro.

“I believe the most important tool of all is a communication tool. Finding the one that can both accommodate the changing lifestyle of a firm’s employees and maintain quality communication standards within the company and with clients can be challenging, but it truly makes all the difference. That is why for the past several years we have been focusing on making Zadarma’s offering ideal for companies with all types of needs.”

Using a virtual phone number for your business means you can assign the number to a specific region, which is beneficial if you are running your business across more than one location but still want to establish a local or regional presence. There is flexibility but customers feel reassurance and trust in calling you. Professionalism is established and exorbitant long distance phone call costs are non-existent. 

Zadarma’s flexible business solutions mean connecting yourself or your team, with easy integration to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and messenger programs. 

Safety and security

Working and living across borders, accessing devices in different locations using free wi-fi and the onslaught of people using digital tools with malicious intent can all lead to data and security breaches. 

Having a virtual phone number is an extra level of security to put your mind at ease. It means you can still be reached on your personal device, but without potential mobile hackers seeing your private number. 

“Being cautious can go a long way in protecting one’s privacy and securing the data. The internet can be a wonderful place with a variety of free tools but you always have to note how your information is handled,” cautions Dmytro.

Learn more about Zadarma’s affordable and easy virtual phone numbers – 30,000 numbers are available in 150 major cities worldwide, and they offer 24/7 support in seven languages

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WORKING IN DENMARK

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for taking sick leave in Denmark?

If you are unwell and unable to work, Danish employment law allows you to take sick leave if you are in employment, self-employed or receiving social welfare credit.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for taking sick leave in Denmark?
Photo: billiondigital/Depositphotos

People who work in Denmark are entitled to take sick leave and it’s important to take care of yourself when you become ill. 

In Denmark, mental health conditions such as depression or stress are treated on equal footing with injuries and physical illnesses. The latter can range from the ‘flu to more serious conditions where you have to be hospitalised for treatment.

Taking sick leave under the Danish employment provisions might difficult to grasp, especially if you are a foreigner in Denmark and used to having different rules or practices in your home country. But if you are legitimately ill, then you are entitled to take sick leave in these situations. You might be asked to provide proof of your illness from your doctor at any time. 

To get sick pay in Denmark, you must live and pay tax in the country (a few exceptions apply under special circumstances).

It is your employer and/or the relevant local municipality which is responsible for paying out sick pay, depending on a number of conditions, primarily related to the length of time for which you have been sick, and also for how long you worked for your employer before illness.

In 2022, municipal sick pay of up to 4,465 kroner per week can be paid out.

The steps you must take vary depending on whether you are employed, self-employed or receiving unemployment insurance (dagpenge). This is addressed below.

Employed

Who is entitled to sick leave?

One of the following requirements must be fulfilled if you are to qualify for municipal sick pay (sygedagpenge):

  • You must have worked for 240 hours within the last six months prior to your first day of sick leave. For at least five of these months, you must have worked at least 40 hours in total that month.
  • Had you not been sick, you would have qualified for unemployment cover (dagpenge) in relevant circumstances. This requires membership of an insurance provider known as an A-kasse (which provides for sick pay if you are unemployed at the time you become sick).
  • You have completed a vocational education programme (erhvervsmæssig uddannelse) lasting 18 months or longer within the last month.
  • You are enrolled in certain types of internship or education programmes or work at a reduced number of weekly hours for health-related reasons (flexjob).

What steps do I need to take?

On your first day of illness, you should let your manager know that you are taking the day off and log it according to company procedures. This informs your employer (especially the payroll department) that you have taken a sick day.

You must inform your employer that you are sick within two hours of the time you would normally have started working, unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as being unable to call due to a hospitalisation) which prevented you from getting in touch.

This is important for a couple of reasons, but if you are going to be out for a significant period, your company will be eligible for partial reimbursement by your municipality. It’s also important that there is a clear first day of illness logged in case it turns out to be a long illness. 

If you do not call in sick on time, you only have the right to sick pay from the time at which you informed you employer.

You employer is required to inform the municipality of your sickness within the first five weeks of your first sick day. Once the municipality has registered your sickness, it initiates processes including payment of sick pay and measures aimed at helping you gat back to work.

If or when the municipality is responsible for paying you during sick leave, you will receive a form via the secure digital mail system e-boks (also accessible via borger.dk and Digital Post), which you must fill in and return by the given deadline, usually 8 days after it is sent by the municipality. You should contact the municipality if you do not receive the form.

If your employer is paying your sick leave, they can apply to the municipality to refund them using the municipal sick pay you would otherwise have received. In this case, you will receive a statement containing the information your employer has passed on to the municipality. You should check to make sure the details are correct.

What about extended absences?

If you end up taking a long period of sick leave, then your employer will contact you about conducting a sickness absence interview. This is a mandatory interview that has to be completed within four weeks from the first day of the illness. The employee is also obligated to attend, which can be in person or by phone, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the illness.

The purpose of this interview is to talk to you about making a plan to come back to work. If you think that you will be on sick leave for more than eight weeks, then the employer is entitled to ask you for a return-to-work plan. The terms of your return can be discussed and agreed upon, according to what makes sense in your situation. You could, for example, ask to return on a part-time basis at first and gradually work back up to full-time.  

You don’t have to divulge the nature of your illness, but your company has the right to ask you for a ‘Fit for Work’ certificate or mulighedserkæring. This applies to both short-term and long-term illnesses.

You and your employer fill out one part, and your doctor also has a part in the completion of the certificate.  The overall point is to evaluate how the illness has impacted your ability to perform your job duties.

How long can I take off sick?

You are allowed an initial 22 weeks off sick within a 9-month period. Before these 22 weeks are up, your municipality will assess whether your sick leave period can be extended.

An extension can be granted for a number of reasons, including the presence of a plan to return to work once you are fit again; a plan to ease back in through a period of part-time work or training known as virksomhedspraktik; diagnosis of serious illness, or pending outcomes of other types of assessments.

READ ALSO: Can you take sick leave in Denmark if your child is ill?

Self-employed

Who is entitled to sick leave?

As a self-employed person, you can take sick leave if:

  • You have run your own business for six of the last 12 months. The business activities must be considered ‘significant’ and have been ongoing in the last month before your absence.
  • You must have spent at least half of normal full-time working hours (18.5 hours per week) running the business.

If your business has not existed this long, prior spells working as an employee can count towards your entitlement.

You can receive municipal sick pay from after two weeks of sickness unless you have taken out a voluntary insurance policy which can give you sick pay from the first or third day of absence.

What steps do I need to take?

Regardless of whether you have the insurance mentioned above, you must register your sickness on the NemRefusion portal within three weeks of your first day of absence.

If you have the insurance, you must registered within a week of the first day on which the insurance covers you (i.e. the first or third day of absence).

Sick pay for self-employed people is paid out by your municipality. You will receive a form via the secure digital mail system e-boks (also accessible via borger.dk and Digital Post). You must inform the municipality how long you expect to be out for and if the sickness is expected to affect your ability to work later.

What about extended absences?

You municipality will continually follow up with you during your sick leave.

If you end up taking a longer period of sick leave, then the municipality will contact you about conducting a sickness absence interview within eight weeks from the first day of the illness.

The purpose of this interview is to talk to you about making a plan to come back to work. The terms of your return can be discussed and agreed upon, according to what makes sense in your situation.

You will be obligated to attend, which can be in person or by phone, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the illness.

The municipality is also entitled to request a doctor’s declaration of your condition, in order to help put together a plan for safeguarding your return to work, the expected duration of the sickness and other aspects.

You can request a ‘fast-track’ process with your municipality if you expect your absence to last longer than eight weeks. More information about this can be found here.

How long can I take off sick?

You are allowed an initial 22 weeks off sick within a 9-month period. Before these 22 weeks are up, your municipality will assess whether your sick leave period can be extended.

An extension can be granted for a number of reasons, including the presence of a plan to return to work once you are fit again; a plan to ease back in through a period of part-time work or training known as virksomhedspraktik; diagnosis of serious illness, or pending outcomes of other types of assessments.

Unemployment insurance (dagpenge)

Who is entitled to sick leave?

You can receive sick paid if you are unemployed and currently receiving unemployment insurance (dagpenge).

This means that, had you not been sick, you would have qualified for unemployment cover (dagpenge) in relevant circumstances, or were already receiving it at the time you fell ill.

This requires membership of an insurance provider known as an A-kasse (which provides for sick pay if you are unemployed at the time you become sick).

If you are move from dagpenge to sick leave, you are affected by different requirements. For example, you will not be obliged to send a set number of job applications per week – one of the criteria for dagpenge.

READ ALSO: A-kasse: Everything foreigners in Denmark need to know about unemployment insurance

What steps do I need to take?

You must register your sickness with your A-kasse on the first day you are ill. You can do this on the jobnet.dk platform.

You A-kasse will pay your sick pay for the first 14 days of your sickness, before informing your municipality which will then contact you via the secure digital mail system e-boks (also accessible via borger.dk and Digital Post). You must inform the municipality how long you expect to be out for and if the sickness is expected to affect your ability to work later.

What about extended absences?

Your municipality takes up ongoing contact with you during your period of sick leave.

If you end up taking a longer period of leave, then the municipality will contact you about conducting a sickness absence interview within eight weeks from the first day of the illness.

The purpose of this interview is to talk to you about making a plan to come back to work. The terms of your return can be discussed and agreed upon, according to what makes sense in your situation.

You will be obligated to attend, which can be in person or by phone, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the illness.

The municipality is also entitled to request a doctor’s declaration of your condition, in order to help put together a plan for safeguarding your return to work, the expected duration of the sickness and other aspects.

You can request a ‘fast-track’ process with your municipality if you expect your absence to last longer than eight weeks. More information about this can be found here.

How long can I take off sick?

You are allowed an initial 22 weeks off sick within a 9-month period. Before these 22 weeks are up, your municipality will assess whether your sick leave period can be extended.

An extension can be granted for a number of reasons, including the presence of a plan to return to work once you are fit again; a plan to ease back in through a period of part-time work or training known as virksomhedspraktik; diagnosis of serious illness, or pending outcomes of other types of assessments.

Source: borger.dk

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