Swedish labour law is advanced, and offers workers many rights and protections, but it’s important to understand them for a favorable job situation.
Unlike most countries in the EU, Sweden doesn’t have a minimum wage. Employers and trade unions regulate wages through agreements, known as ‘kollektivavtal,’ which also govern starting wages within specific fields, often referred to as ‘ingångslön‘ or ‘grundlön‘.
Signing a kollektivavtal is voluntary, and employers have no legal obligation to enter into 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 Swedish labour law and 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.
The law called semesterlagen regulates vacations, but they 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. In Swedish, people refer to the public sector as ‘offentlig‘ sektor.
The Unions – Facket
Even though memberships have declined since the mid-nineties, Swedish workers under Swedish labour law maintain a high level of unionization About 69% of all employees belong to a union today. However, this marks a significant decline compared 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:
- Landsorganisationen (LO)
- Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation (TCO)
- Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation (SACO)
All the legal aspects – laws and agreements – concerning work in Sweden are regulated by something called arbetsrätt.
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