Amendments to Swedish legislation on fixed-term employment contracts came into force on 1 May 2016

As previously reported (please see Employment & Benefits Review December 2015), amendments to the legislation on fixed-term employment contracts have been proposed by the Swedish Government. The proposed amendments have now been adopted by the Swedish Parliament (Sw: Riksdagen) and they entered into force on 1 May 2016. Companies with employees in Sweden are encouraged to further familiarize themselves with the new rules. 

The new regulation on the psychosocial work environment came into force in March 2016

In October last year, the Swedish Work Environment Authority (Sw: Arbetsmiljöverket) issued a new regulation on psychosocial aspects of health and safety at work. The new regulation came into force in March 2016. The aim of the regulation is, among other things, to ensure that employers actively work to reduce psychosocial risk factors in the organization. Companies with employees in Sweden who have not already done so are encouraged to further familiarize themselves with the new rules and ensure that their officers and management are well aware of them.

The Swedish Government appoints a Governmental investigation regarding the Swedish rules  on trade secrets

The Parliament and the Council of the European Union have agreed in principle on the wording of an EU Directive on the Protection of Trade Secrets and Know-How. The new EU Directive has not yet been formally adopted, but the Swedish Government is already preparing for its adoption by appointing a Governmental investigation which will examine how the forthcoming Directive should be adapted into Swedish law. In addition, the Governmental investigation will examine whether certain acts involving the misappropriation of trade secrets should be criminalized.

Sweden will be delayed in implementing the "new" Directive regarding posted workers

Directive 2014/67/EU (known as the "Posted Workers Enforcement Directive") must be implemented in national law not later than 18 June 2016. Among other things, the Directive provides for the introduction of certain information obligations for employers posting workers. Furthermore, the member states shall introduce a liability for contractors towards employees of direct subcontractors as regards, inter alia, minimum wage or take other appropriate enforcement measures that enable effective and proportionate sanctions against the contractor. Sweden, however, is delayed in implementing the Directive. A Governmental investigation presented a proposal in 2015. Since then, however, the Swedish Government has drafted a new proposal that is currently being reviewed by various Governmental bodies and other organizations. Thus, any legislative proposal to the Swedish Parliament will most likely not be ready until well into the autumn, if it will be ready this year at all. Given the somewhat complicated political situation in the Swedish Parliament, the implementation could well be delayed even longer.

Sweden to introduce rules on improved protection for whistle-blowers

Earlier this month, the Swedish Parliament adopted a Governmental proposal to introduce rules on improved protection for whistle-blowers. The new rules will come into effect on 1 January 2017. In short, a new Act on Specific Protection from Negative Repercussions for Employees that Reports Serious Irregularities (Sw: Lag om särskilt skydd mot repressalier för arbetstagare som slår larm om allvarliga missförhållanden) will be introduced. The Act prohibits the employer to take action that is harmful to an employee on account of the employees having reported serious irregularities. Agreements that are in breach of the Act are null and void. Actions in breach of the Act may give rise to liability for the employer to pay damages. It is important to note that the employee will need to report irregularities in accordance with the Act in order to be afforded protection, which means that the employee must first report irregularities by using proscribed internal reporting channels or by approaching the trade union he or she is a member of.

Comments from a Finnish perspective:

The Finnish Government has also proposed changes to the regulation of fixed-term employment contracts in relation to the long-term unemployed. As regards the psychosocial aspects of health and safety at work, the current Occupational Safety and Health Act already includes an obligation for employers to assess and continuously observe these aspects in the workplace. The new EU Directive on the Protection of Trade Secrets and Know-How will naturally affect Finland as well. It remains to be seen how the Directive will be implemented in Finland. For more information on the Directive of Trade Secrets and Know-How, please see Roschier IP & Technology Review 18 April 2016. Furthermore, Finland has recently implemented the so-called Posted Workers Enforcement Directive. Please see our briefing on the changes to the Finnish legislation in the Finnish section of the newsletter. There is no separate legislation providing specific protection for employees with respect to whistle-blowing in Finland.