If there is one thing Scandinavia is known for, it’s an overall high quality of life and outstanding education levels. With its highly skilled workforce and a strong emphasis on self-development and ongoing professional training, Sweden is definitely no exception to what could be called the Scandinavian norm.
Swedish employees enjoy a high level of social protection and great benefits which are aimed to increase their well-being and, while doing so, contribute to their productivity. What’s more, Swedish business communication is almost entirely in English which makes it very easy for international companies to integrate their new recruits from Sweden into their remote teams.
Although there is no legal obligation for employment agreements to be in writing, it is best practice to put an employment contract in place which should at least outline the basic terms of employment including but not limited to:
- Identification of both parties
- Type of employment
- Date of commencement (and employment duration for temporary contracts)
- Job description, duties and responsibilities
- Basic salary as well as other compensation or benefits and details on payment procedures
- Working hours
- Total number of holidays
- Notice periods for employment termination
- Length of probation period
- Reference to collective agreements
- Any terms which may apply in case the employee is required to work abroad
Unless stated otherwise, employment contracts in Sweden are considered to be indefinite. However, fixed-term contracts are equally possible if the need of such can be demonstrated by the employer.
Probation periods should not exceed six months.
Working Hours and Breaks
Sweden’s Working Hours Act limits the standard working week to 40 hours. As for rest periods and breaks, the following principles must be observed:
- an employee’s daily rest period should not be shorter than eleven hours
- an employee’s weekly rest period should not be shorter than 36 hours – for most employees, both Saturdays and Sundays are rest days
- breaks are to be integrated into the employee’s working day in accordance with the working conditions – at least one rest break after five consecutive hours of work
Overtime work is permitted but should not exceed 48 hours over a four-week period – 200 hours throughout a calendar year. There are no legal regulations on overtime pay but employers may have to respect the provisions of any applying collective agreements.
It is common practice to pay employees at the end of each month.
Sweden is one of the few European countries which do not have a national minimum wage. Minimum remuneration is usually negotiated within each industry and fixed in collective bargaining agreements.
Employers are obligated to provide 14 days of sick pay to their employees upon presentation of a medical certificate – except for the first day of sickness. According to Swedish labour law, sick pay should be equal to 80% of the employee’s normal wages. Starting from the 15th day of sick leave, sickness benefits are paid by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
There are no legal provisions regarding a 13th salary.
Taxes and Social Security Contribution
Employees and employers in Sweden are subject to the following tax and social security contribution rates (as of 2021):
20.6% corporate tax rate
25% VAT (standard rate)
Municipal and national tax rates on employment income:
municipal tax: around 32% on all income
national tax: 20% on income above SEK 523,200
31.42% of employee’s salary go to social security which includes contributions to pension scheme, survivor’s pension fund, fees for health insurance and insurance against work injury
7% of employee’s salary to pension insurance fund (up to SEK 550,400)
Every employee in Sweden is entitled to at least 25 days of paid annual leave, including during their first year of employment where paid leave may be granted in advance – however, this is subject to the employer’s consent. It is compulsory to allow employees to take at least four of their five weeks of annual leave during the period from June to August.
It is quite common for collective agreements to define longer annual leave periods, especially for white-collar employees. Public holidays are not included in annual leave entitlements. There are twelve festive holidays where employees in Sweden are not required to work. Furthermore, employees receive vacation pay equal to 12% of their annual salary.
Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave
Swedish labour law does not distinguish between maternity and paternity leave. Instead, law defines statutory parental leave entitlements which are as follows:
- Both parents have the right to a total of 480 days of paid parental leave per child of which 90 days are exclusively reserved for each parent, i.e. one single parent can claim a maximum of 390 days of parental leave.
- Pregnant women can take maternity leave from as early as 60 days before the expected due date.
- While on parental leave, parents receive benefits from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency amounting to 80% of their normal wages for 390 days. The remaining 90 days are paid at a fixed rate of SEK 180.
- While one parent is on parental leave, the partner may take ten days of paid leave on the child’s birth.
Furthermore, parents who have at least one child under eight are allowed to reduce their standard working time by 25%.
Additional Leave and Benefits
After having completed at least six months of continuous employment, employees have the right to educational leave. Also, employers have to grant leave to employees who are intending to start a business – six months maximum.
In addition to employment termination by default – i.e. in case of a fixed-term contract – resignation and mutual agreement, Swedish labour law defines the following grounds for termination (non-exhaustive list):
- objective reasons: redundancy, economic situation, collective dismissals, etc.
- personal reasons: underperformance, misconduct, theft, disloyalty, etc.
When dismissing an employee, employers have to observe the following statutory notice periods:
- one month during the first two years of service – except during probation period where notice is shortened to 14 days
- two months if the employee’s length of service is between two and four years
- three months if the employee’s length of service is between four and six years
- four months if the employee’s length of service is between six and eight years
- five months if the employee’s length of service is between eight and ten years
- six months if the employee’s length of service exceeds ten years
Employment termination without prior notice is possible in cases of gross misconduct or where a severe breach of the concluded employment contract has been committed. Employees must inform their employers of their intended resignation at least one month prior to the date on which they wish to resign.
There are no legal provisions for severance pay but employees may still be entitled to receive money upon termination under a collective agreement.
Hiring in Sweden?
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