New provisions to improve the working environment

On 31 March 2016, new provisions came into force, aimed at consolidating and supplementing existing provision (under the Swedish Work Environment Act) concerning workplace health and the working environment. The new provisions clarify the role of employers in promoting a healthy working environment; from managing workloads and work allocation, to improving communications and collaborations with staff and effecting preventative measures.

Clearer regulations are intended to make it easier for employers to support their workforces and, in turn, to reduce sickness and stress, whilst promoting well-being and creativity. They will also strengthen legal rights in this context.

Changes to fixed-term contracts

Amendments to the Employment Protection Act came into force on 1 May 2016, regarding fixed-term engagements. A period of fixed-term or temporary substitute employment will become one of indefinite-term, if the employee has been employed by the employer for a total of two years’ or more in any five-year period. Furthermore, where fixed-term, temporary substitute or seasonal contracts have run consecutively over two years, employment will similarly be regarded as indefinite. In this context, “consecutive” means where any new or renewed contract commences within six months of the end of an earlier one.

The new rules also provide that employees are entitled to receive written information from their employer concerning their aggregate periods of employment, including the form, start date and end date of each fixed-term engagement. Such information must be provided by the employer within three weeks of the employee’s request.

The previous regulations regarding fixed term employment and temporary substitute employment continue to apply to all such arrangements entered into prior to 1 May 2016. However, when calculating consecutive periods of employment, it should be noted that periods of engagement arsing prior to 1 May 2016 should be taken into account.

Employers will need to maintain a clear record of employee-engagement going forwards, in order to comply with this new legislation and to be in a position to respond to employee requests for information.

Increased protection for whistleblowers proposed

On 10 March 2016 the Swedish Government proposed new legislation regarding special protection for employees blowing the whistle regarding serious offences. The proposal would give increased protection for whistleblowers facing disciplinary action by their employers. The new legislation is expected from 1 January 2017.