Swedish work law

Work laws in Sweden are quite evolved and as a worker, you have many rights but there is a lot to keep in mind in order to get a good job situation.

Minimum Wage

Unlike most countries in the EU, Sweden doesn’t have minimum wage.  Wages are regulated by agreements – kollektivavtal – between employers and the trade unions.  Kollektivavtal regulates, amongst other things, the starting wages within that certain field. These starting wages are mostly called ingångslön or grundlön.

Signing a kollektivavtal is voluntary and employers are not legally obliged to sign a wage agreement with the union. It’s important to remember this when applying for a job – no kollektivavtal means that there is no lower limit for your wage. This is the reason why you should always make sure your employer has a kollektivavtal. Learn more about kollektivavtal here.

Working hours & holidays

A regular working week in Sweden is about 40 hours. However, actual working time is shorter, as these 40 hours include vacations, sick leave and not to forget – the very important fika which is a getting together of people to have coffee, tea and/or a snack.

Vacations are regulated by the law called semesterlagen, but are also influenced by kollektivavtalet and employment contracts. Semesterlagen gives you the right to 25 vacations days per year. This applies to all employment types – part-time and full-time employments.

You are also entitled to four continuous vacation weeks during the summer months June, July and August. Make sure to enjoy these summer weeks, as the Swedish summer is known to be a short but precious one.

The public and private sector

The Swedish work market consists of two main sectors: the public and the private. The public sector is relatively big in Sweden and includes sectors like: healthcare, education, military and police. The public sector is called offentlig sektor in Swedish.

The Unions – Facket

Swedish workers are highly unionized even though memberships have declined since the mid nineties. About 69% of all employees belong to a union today. Yet, this is a big decline compered to the 90% of the nineties. A big membership drop occurred in 2007 when the current government – Alliansen, raised the memberships fees to the unions and the unemployment funds – a-kassa.

There are three big trade union confederations in Sweden today:

Labour Legislation

All the legal aspects – laws and agreements – concerning work in Sweden are regulated by something called arbetsrätt.

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