Minimum Working Conditions
There are mandatory rules concerning minimum working conditions in Swedish law that must be observed by the employer. For example, there are regulations regarding working hours, work environment and non-discrimination. However, the terms and conditions are mainly regulated in the individual employment agreement and/or, if applicable, in the collective bargaining agreement.
There are no provisions regarding minimum salary in Swedish law. However, provisions regarding such matters are often found in the collective bargaining agreements. On 7 April 2020, legislative changes as regards the Act on Short-time Work Allowance entered into force with retroactive effect as of 16 March 2020. Following the legislative changes, employers may apply for and receive, state funded financial support when employing short time working arrangements, as alternatives to dismissals during temporary and unexpected financial hardship. A short time working arrangement needs to be agreed between employer and employee, or employee organisation, and may entail a temporary reduction in working hours by 20, 40 or 60 percent and a temporary reduction in salary by 12, 16 or 20 percent, respectively. When applying such arrangements, the employer may qualify for financial support amounting to 43 percent of the part of the employees’ salaries that correspond to the reduced working hours, i.e. the basis when calculating the financial support is 60 percent of the employees’ salaries if working hours are reduced by 60 percent. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, specific regulations were enacted, temporarily, during 2020 to allow employees to retain more than 90 percent of their salary even though working hours were reduced by 20, 40 or 60 percent, and to allow employers to receive financial support amounting to 98.6 percent of the salary that corresponded to the reduced hours of work.
Maximum Working Week
According to the Working Hours Act, Regular working hours may not exceed 40 hours per week. Where the nature of work or working conditions generally so demand, working hours may amount to an average of 40 hours per week for a period of no more than four weeks. Where an employee is demanded to be at the employer’s disposal at the workplace in order to carry out work if necessary, on-call hours may not be more than 48 hours over a four-week period or 50 hours over a calendar month. Deviations from certain regulations in the Working Hours Act can be made by collective bargaining agreement, but not in individual employment agreements.
Overtime comprises working hours in excess of regular working hours and on-call hours. Where additional working hours are required, overtime hours may not exceed 48 hours over a period of four weeks or 50 hours over a calendar month, subject to a maximum of 200 hours per calendar year. Statutory law does not contain regulations regarding overtime pay. Overtime pay is normally provided for in collective bargaining agreements. In general, employees may choose to receive overtime pay in terms of money or compensatory leave.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
Sweden has extensive legislation providing guiding principles regarding the work environment including, but not limited to, regulations concerning the obligations of employers and others responsible for safety, to prevent ill health and accidents at work. regulations as regards the cooperation between employer and employee, for example rules about the activities of safety representatives at the workplace. Employers should investigate, implement and monitor activities so that ill health and accidents at work are prevented and a satisfactory work environment is achieved, by carrying out risk assessments, investigating ill health, accidents, serious incidents, implementing measures, controlling measures and allocating work environment assignments.
Each employee, who deems that certain work constitutes an immediate threat to life or health, is obliged to report this to the employer or safety representative as soon as possible. However, the appointed safety representative has the main responsibility to convey work environment issues and demands from the employees to the employer.
Protection from Retaliation
A safety representative is protected from having his or her terms and conditions of employment changed for the worst due to the assignment as safety representative. Furthermore, an employee or a safety representative is not liable for damages caused due to the employee or safety representative stopping work, which the employee or safety representative deemed as an immediate threat to life or health. Additionally, an employee or applicant shall not be subject to any retaliation due to the employee or applicant reporting, participating in an investigation of or rejecting employer conduct, which is in violation of the Discrimination Act.