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What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?
Only public sector employers are, subject to law, required to advertise available positions.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
The use of different background checks as a part of the recruiting process has become more common in recent years in Sweden, both for public and private sector employers. In general, employers are not prohibited from carrying out background checks on applicants if there is a legitimate reason to do so or from requesting that the applicant present a copy of his or her criminal record. In some sectors (eg, financial sector or working with children), providing a copy of a criminal record may also be a pre-condition of the commencement of employment. However, applicants are not obliged to provide a copy of their criminal record if they know that doing so will definitely result in their application being dismissed.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limits employers’ rights to process data collected in the course of any recruitment procedure. Essentially, employers are prohibited from keeping records of applicants’ and employees’ criminal activities and records.
(b) Medical history?
The GDPR also limits employers’ rights to carry out background checks in respect of an applicant’s or employee’s medical history and to process data collected in the course of any recruitment procedure.
However, an employer may process sensitive personal data (eg, medical history) if such data is required to fulfil the employer’s obligations in relation to the employee – for instance, to calculate sick pay, examine the employee’s right to sick leave or as part of a rehabilitation investigation.
(c) Drug screening?
Employers are allowed to screen employees for drugs if there is a legitimate reason to do so – for instance, if the employee’s work involves major risk of serious accidents.
(d) Credit checks?
Employers have a right to carry out credit checks on applicants if there is a legitimate reason to do so – for instance, if the applicant is seeking a chief financial officer position or equivalent.
(e) Immigration status?
The general rule is that a foreign applicant must have a work permit before entering Sweden. In certain circumstances, applicants may apply for and obtain a permit after entering Sweden. Employers have a duty to check that applicants hold work permits or equivalent documentation entitling them to work in Sweden.
(f) Social media?
Employers are not prohibited from carrying out background checks based on information that applicants post on social media and that is therefore part of the public domain. However, the use and processing of data collected in this way must be done in accordance with the GDPR.
Wages and working time
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?
Sweden, unlike many other countries, does not have a national minimum wage that employers must observe when negotiating wages with employees. Wage levels are either set in individual negotiations between the employer and the employee or collectively agreed between employers’ associations and trade unions at sector level for those employers that are bound by collective bargaining agreements. Annual pay rises are still common practice in most sectors.
It is increasingly common for the pay package of white collar employees to be based partly on performance.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
The Working Hours Act (1982/673) governs restrictions on working hours. Most of the provisions of the act are mandatory in that respect, but derogations may be made through collective bargaining agreements concluded by either central or local employee organisations.
As a general rule, regular working time may not exceed 40 hours a week. When it is required and the work is of such nature that the general rule may not be applicable, instead of the fixed 40 hours a week, working time may amount to an average of 40 hours a week over a period of four weeks at most.
In terms of on-call time and overtime, an employee may claim on-call time up to a maximum of 48 hours over a period of four weeks or 50 hours per calendar month. If there is a special need, overtime may be worked up to a maximum of 48 hours per employee over a four-week period, or 50 hours over a calendar month with a maximum of 200 hours over a calendar year.
The employer also has the possibility to add another 150 hours per employee over a calendar year if there are special grounds for doing so and no other reasonable solution has been found.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Employees are entitled to:
- a rest after five hours of work;
- a break of at least 11 hours every 24 hours; and
- a rest of 36 consecutive hours each week of work.
However, if two rest periods are put back to back, the maximum period between two rest periods may be 11 days.
How should overtime be calculated?
Due to the differences between the working conditions in the labour market, the calculation of overtime is often regulated at sector level in collective bargaining agreements.
Overtime is generally compensated through either overtime pay compensation or compensatory leave. The overtime compensation usually depends on the time or day when the employee worked overtime. For instance, compensation is often higher if the employee works after 8pm or at weekends.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
The Working Hours Act applies generally, but certain categories of employees are excluded. These include:
- employees who hold managerial or comparable positions;
- employees who are entrusted with organising their own working time;
- work performed in the employer´s household;
- work on board a ship; or
- work on certain road transport.
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
Under the Swedish Annual Leave Act, employees are entitled to annual leave, holiday pay and compensation in lieu of annual leave. The regulations are mandatory and any individual agreements are invalid where they restrict an employee’s rights. However, similarly to many other aspects of the Swedish labour market, derogations may be made by collective bargaining agreements that have been concluded or approved by a central employee organisation.
Employees have a right to a minimum of 25 days of annual leave each year, except where employment commenced after 31 August, in which case the employee is entitled to five days of annual leave that year. Although the Annual Leave Act provides for a minimum of 25 days of annual leave, in many sectors employees are entitled to 30 days of annual leave or more if agreed with the employer.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
Under the Annual Leave Act, employees are entitled to a final pay no later than one month after the last day of employment.
An employer’s rights to set off any claims from wages are very limited in Sweden. An employer may set off claims towards an employee from wages only:
- if the employee has agreed to it;
- if the employer has a claim to compensation for damages that the employee intentionally caused during the employment; or
- if an applicable collective bargaining agreement stipulates a right for the employer to set off.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
According to the Swedish Accounting Act (1999/1078), all documents that fall within the definition of ‘accounting information’ must be maintained or stored for at least seven years.
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