Employers to be more pro-active in combatting discrimination

The Swedish Parliament has adopted new rules which will require increased proactive measures on the part of employers in order to combat discrimination. Amendments to the Discrimination Act will take effect from January 1, 2017 and aim to further enhance discrimination protection in employment and training and to improve access to equal rights and opportunities, regardless of sex, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.

In particular, the new provisions of the Act will increase the obligations on employers to be proactive in this context, by requiring them to undertake a risk-assessment of the potential for discrimination within their organisation and to analyse the causes of those risks. Employers must then draw up and put in place measures to address these perceived risks and continue to monitor their actions.

Similarly, from January, employers will need to increase their current obligations to conduct salary reviews by carrying out a salary survey every year, instead of every three years. More employers will also be subject to the requirement to collate written documentation concerning a salary survey as this will be extended to employers with at least 10 employees (instead of those with 25 or more staff, as at present). Employers with at least 10 employees will be obliged to document annually their salary survey and planned actions. For employers with at least 25 employees, there will need to be an annual record of all their work and planned measures regarding equality, of which the salary survey will form a part.

New court ruling regarding change of salary when employee transfers to a new role

In a recent case before the Labour Court, the court was asked to consider a situation where an employer had offered an employee, who was at risk of redundancy, an alternative role with a lower salary. The employee accepted the new role reluctantly but claimed his situation was equivalent to a dismissal from his original role and that he should therefore receive his higher salary during what would have been his notice period in that event.

The Labour Court ruled that there had been no termination of employment and that the offer of a new role was specifically intended to avoid that eventuality. The Court further concluded that neither the statement accompanying the offer of the new role, to the effect that failure to accept it would place the employee at risk of redundancy, nor the transfer to the new role itself, could be construed as a termination of his original employment

In conclusion, the Labour Court found the relevant statutory provisions regarding length of notice periods and the right to notice pay (sections 11 and 12 of the Employment Protection Act) were not applicable to the employee’s circumstances and he was accordingly not entitled to the claimed period of higher salary.