Last updated on: February 15th, 2023
The Labor Law in Sweden is regulated mainly by the Working Time Act, of 1996 ( last amended 2022) which governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, rest periods, wages, overtime, and employment relationships. The Holiday Act, Public Holiday Act, Parental Act, and several other acts define various kinds of leave available to employees.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Normal Working Hours
The regular working hours shall not exceed 40 hours (exclusive overtime) per week. The week is counted from Monday unless another day is considered as per their agreement.
When the nature of work requires a different work schedule and as such the general rule may not be applicable, in such cases, 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.
Average Hours – The total working hours including overtime during each 7-day period may not exceed a maximum of 48 hours on average during a calculation period of a maximum of 4 months.
On calls – An employee may request on-call time up to a maximum of 48 hours over the course of 4 weeks or 50 hours per calendar month if the nature of the work necessitates that they are available to the employer in the workplace to carry out work activities as needed. On-call time does not include any time that an employee works on behalf of the employer.
When calculating the total working time, annual leave and sickness absence during times when the employee would otherwise have worked shall be treated as hours worked.
All employers who engage employees for work other than temporarily must notify the employees of changes in the arrangement of regular working hours and on-call hours at least 2 weeks in advance. Due to the nature of the business or unforeseen occurrences, the advance notice can be of short duration. Working Time Act, Sec 5-6, 10b, 12.
Recording Requirement – Employers shall maintain records concerning on-call time, overtime, and additional time. Employees are entitled personally or through a representative to inspect all the records and maintain them in the manner prescribed by the Swedish Work Environment Authority. These records must state the period of time referred to, specified by year and week number/calendar month/date of commencement and termination. The records must be stored at the workplace during the current calendar year and the 2 subsequent calendar years. Working Time Act, Sec 11.
Overtime means when work hours exceed regular working hours (i.e 40 hours per week) and on-call hours. If different regular working hours or on-call hours apply due to a collective agreement, overtime shall instead be understood as hours that exceed the agreed upon or consented working hours or on-call hours.
If there is a special need, overtime may be worked up to a maximum of 48 hours per employee over a 4-week period, or 50 hours over a calendar month with a maximum of 200 hours ((inclusive overtime) over a calendar year.
Extra Overtime – 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. Extra overtime and general overtime together may not exceed 48 hours per employee for a period of 4 weeks or 50 hours during a calendar month.
When calculating overtime, compensatory rest periods or other rest periods that are scheduled during the employee’s regular working time or on-call time shall be treated as regular hours worked.
Emergency Overtime – If a natural or accidental event or other similar circumstance that could not have been foreseen by the employer has caused an interruption in the business or entailed an imminent danger of such an interruption or of damage to life, health, or property, overtime may be taken for work to the extent that conditions require.
If there is a local employee organization for the workplace within whose contractual area the work falls, emergency overtime may only be taken on the condition that the employer notifies the organization of the overtime work as soon as possible.
Extra time in case of part-time employment – The term ‘additional time’ means working time that exceeds the employee’s regular working time and on-call time under the employment contract. When calculating additional time, compensatory rest periods or other rest periods that are scheduled during the employee’s regular working time or on-call time shall be treated as regular hours worked or time spent on call.
General Overtime for Part-time employee – Additional time may be worked where there is a special necessity to do so, up to a maximum of 200 hours per employee during a calendar year (general overtime).
If there are extraordinary circumstances, an employee may work up to 150 more hours over the course of a calendar year in addition to regular overtime (extra additional time). In total, an employee’s extra additional time and general additional time cannot total more than 48 hours over a period of 4 weeks or 50 hours over a month.
Pay– Overtime premium pay provisions are governed by employer and employee Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Working Time Act, Sec 7 – 11.
Night means the period between 10 pm and 6 am.
Night work means work performed at least 3 hours during the night hours given above or where the employee is likely to fulfill at least a third of their annual working time during the night. Working hours for night work during each period of 24 hours may not exceed an average of 8 hours during a calculation period of no more than 4 months.
In case of work that involves special risks or great physical or mental effort, the duration may not exceed more than 8 hours during each 24-hour period of work during the night. In case of work which involves special risks or great physical or mental effort, the duration may not exceed more than 8 hours during each 24-hour period of work during the night. When calculating the average, the 24-hour period shall be deducted from the reference period for each 7-day period commenced. Annual leave and sickness absence during times when the employee would otherwise have worked shall be treated as hours worked.
However, night employees whose work involves special risks or great physical or mental effort may not work more than 8 hours in any 24-hour period in which they perform work during the night.
An employee is entitled to a compensatory rest period in the event that they have work on their weekly rest period due to special circumstances that could not have been foreseen, such exceptions must be made on a temporary basis. Sec 13a of Working Time Act.
Employees are entitled to a paid break after 5 hours of continuous work. The number, length, and location of the breaks will be decided based on a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
During the break, the employees are not obliged to stay at the workplace. The employer must specify in advance the length and layout of the breaks as the circumstances permit.
Breaks may be exchanged for meal breaks at the workplace if this is necessary for a view of the working conditions or in view of illness or other events that could not have been foreseen by the employer. Such meal breaks are included in working time.
The employer shall organize work in a manner that employees are able to take small breaks during their working hours in addition to breaks. If the working conditions require a special work break shall be scheduled.
If the employer does not provide employees with appropriate breaks, rest, or overtime intentionally or unintentionally, they are liable to a penalty fee to the government authorities. Working Time Act, Sec 15-17.
All employees are entitled to at least 11 hours of continuous rest period during each period of 24 hours. The daily rest period to which an employee is entitled should include the hours between 12 am and 5 am.
Compensatory Rest Period – An employee is entitled to a compensatory rest period in the event that they have work during their daily rest time due to special circumstances that could not have been foreseen, such exceptions must be made on a temporary basis. Sec 13 of the Working Time Act.
Employees are entitled to at least 36 hours of continuous weekly rest period during each period of 7 days. The weekly rest period does not include standby time when the employee is allowed to stay outside the workplace but must be at the employer’s disposal to perform work when the need arises. As far as possible, the weekly rest should be placed at the end of the week.
Compensatory Rest Period – An employee is entitled to a compensatory rest period in the event that they have work on their weekly rest period due to special circumstances that could not have been foreseen by the employer, such exceptions must be made on a temporary basis. Sec 14 of the Working Time Act.
Collective agreements often require special rates of pay for work outside normal hours (shift premiums).
Employees are entitled to the following 13 paid public holidays:
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Labor Day – May 1
- National Day – June 6
- Whit Sunday
- Midsummer Day – June 21
- All Saints’ Day – November 1st
- Christmas – December 25
- Boxing Day – December 26
Public holidays that occur on a weekend remain on that day. Swedish law contains no provisions on pay for hours worked on a public holiday. Public Holidays Act, 1989, §§ 12.
Employees are entitled to 25 full working days of annual leave every year regardless of employees’ age or type of employment. Employees are entitled to a continuous annual leave of 4 weeks during the period of June – August. Leave begins and ends with a day of annual leave.
Saturdays and Sundays shall not be counted as days of annual leave except if the period of annual leave is shorter than 5 days and if the employee is free on a Saturday or Sunday, which would otherwise have been a working day, that day shall be counted as a day of annual leave. A free day shall not be regarded as a day of annual leave. Public holidays and Midsummer’s Eve, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve shall be treated in the same manner as Sundays.
According to the contract of employment or collective agreement or both, employees may be entitled to an additional number of annual leave. The year after the qualifying year is called the annual leave year. This runs from 1 April until 31 March the year after that.
If an employee enters into new employment after 31 August in any given year then they are only entitled to 5 full days of annual leave until 1 April the following year. Unless otherwise specified in a collective agreement or contract of employment, the employee will be allocated your annual vacation days on 1 April every year.
An employee who switches employment is entitled to annual leave in the new employment only to the extent that the employee has not already had such leave in the previous employment. In the case of employment which is intended to last for a maximum of 3 months and which does not last long, it may be agreed that holiday leave shall not be posted. In such a case, the employee is entitled to a holiday allowance.
An employee who switches employment is entitled to vacation leave in the new employment only to the extent that the employee has not already had such leave in the previous employment.
Day of Annual Leave with Pay – The days when the employee has been completely absent from work without pay shall be subtracted from the days that the employee has worked in the employer’s service during the qualifying year (period of employment). However, absence due to annual leave, lay-offs, short-time work, or parental leave affords an entitlement to holiday pay, and free days that fall during such periods of absence shall be included in the period of employment. The difference is divided by the number of days in the qualifying year. This factor is multiplied by twenty-five. Where the calculation results in a fraction, it shall be rounded up to the nearest whole number.
Leave without Pay – An employee may waive entitlement to annual leave without holiday pay. An employee is obliged to inform their employer about the wishes regarding taking of annual leave without pay or the extent to which the employee wishes to waive the entitlement to such leave.
Annual leave for Employees who regularly work Saturday or Sunday – An employee who regularly works on Saturday, Sunday, or both of these days is entitled to leave during a holiday break that lasts at least 5 days, partially during the annual leave, and either shortly before or immediately after the weekend.
If annual leave covers at least 19 days, the employee is entitled to leave correspondingly at the end of the week, both immediately before and immediately after the leave.
Where an employee has time off of a corresponding duration on a day of the week which is not a Saturday or a Sunday, and this occurs during the period of annual leave, that weekday shall be counted as a day of annual leave.
An employee must be eligible for more than 20 days of annual leave to transfer 5 days of annual leave per year up to 5 consecutive years.
The employee shall notify their employer before they carry forward annual leaves prior to scheduling their leaves for the year. Days of annual leave that have been carried over shall be allocated to the annual leave year of the employee’s choice.
An employee who has carried over and intends to use at least 5 consecutive days from their accrued leaves, they shall also be entitled to remaining annual leave for the whole year consecutively, unless otherwise agreed.
Termination – Annual leaves cannot be planned to fall during a notice of termination period, unless the employee agrees. When an employer issues a notice of termination and the notice period fully or substantially overlaps with an employee’s period of consent annual leave, the employee may request that the dates of their annual leave be modified. When the notice period for termination is more than 6 months, the above exceptions do not apply.
Compensation in lieu of annual leave – An employee is entitled to compensation in place of annual vacation if their employment ends before they’ve been paid their annual holiday pay. Employees who get compensation in lieu of annual leave must receive it within a month of their employment ending without undue delay.
Unfit to Work or Ill during Annual leave – If an employee has one or more days during an annual leave period that they are unable to work due to illness or an occupational injury, or if they have one or more days that are credited for holiday pay, those days will not be counted towards their annual leave as long as they immediately request. Unless otherwise agreed, the employee is required to schedule the remaining days of annual leave consecutively.
Holiday Pay – Employers are required to pay each employee’s holiday pay along with their annual leave. An employee is entitled to 12% of the income during the qualifying year (the year preceding the annual holiday year).
Annual leave that has not been carried forward and which could not be scheduled during the annual leave year is compensated by holiday pay and shall be paid not later than one month after the end of the annual leave year. However, annual leaves are paid only if the number of earned days during the qualifying years exceeds 25 days. Annual Leave Act, Sec 3 – 24.
There is no statutory minimum wage in Sweden.
An employee is entitled to sick pay from the first day of employment. If the agreed period of employment is shorter than 1 month, the right to sick pay only comes into play if the employee has taken up employment and has subsequently been employed for 14 consecutive calendar days. Days, when the employee was absent without a valid reason, are not included.
During the first 90 days, employees are entitled to sickness cash benefits if they are considered unable to cope with their normal work. After 90 days, employees are entitled to sickness cash benefits if they are considered unable to cope with their normal work or any other work that the employer can offer. After 180 days they are only entitled to sickness cash benefits if they are considered unable to work in any position on the normal employment market. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, an employee’s ability to work need not be assessed against the normal employment market when it is likely that employees can return to a job with their employer before 365 days have passed since they became sick or if such an assessment is unreasonable.
The employee has to inform their employer about their sickness. The employer is obliged to pay sickness benefits for the first 14 days at the employee’s normal salary. An amount is deducted (karensavdrag) from the sickness benefit. The deduction is 20% of the sickness benefit that an employee receives in an average calendar week. If you are away from work more than 7 days from work due to sickness, the employee must submit a doctor’s certificate in order to continue to receive sick pay.
After 14 days, the employer must notify the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) that the employee is still sick. After that, employees can apply for sickness benefits from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).
Right to leave to try other work due to illness – An employee has the right to be on leave from their employment to try other work according to their health condition. Due to illness, an employee has reduced ability to work or suitable work that the employer has temporarily offered the employee for a period of at least 90 days, and has entered into an employment contract with another employer during the period from and including day 91 to and including day 180 of the sick period.
An employee who wishes to use their right to leave must notify the employer no later than 2 weeks before the start of the leave and also include the duration of the leave. An employee may not be terminated or dismissed solely because the employee requests or claims his right to leave. An employer who violates this shall be liable to a penalty. Sick Pay Act, 1991 (as amended)Act (2008:565) on the right to leave to try other work due to illness.
A female employee is entitled to full leave in connection with the child’s birth during a continuous period of at least 7 weeks prior to the delivery and 7 weeks after the delivery. The maternity leave shall be obligatory and taken at least 2 weeks prior to the delivery.
If an employee is not on leave for other reasons, 2 weeks of maternity leave shall be obligatory during the period prior to or after the delivery. The employee is also entitled to be on break for breastfeeding the child.
A female employee who is expecting a child has recently given birth to a child or is breastfeeding is entitled to be transferred to other work while retaining their employment benefits, provided that they have been prohibited from continuing regular work under regulation by the competent authority.
Also, if a female employee who is expecting a child and, as a result, cannot carry out physically demanding work duties is entitled to be transferred to other work while retaining her employment benefits. However, an employee can only be transferred for a duration of 60 days before the expected delivery date.
If the transfer cannot be made, the employee is allowed to take a leave in order to protect the health and safety, but will not receive employment benefits for the time the employee is absent. The leave would be considered unpaid leave unless the employee wants to use part of their parental leave benefit which is only available from 60 days before the expected date of delivery. A female employee is required to give one month’s notice to the employer to provide another suitable position as she cannot perform physically demanding tasks due to pregnancy.
Pay– There is no provision of pay during the 14 weeks of leave (7 weeks prenatal and 7 weeks post-natal leave). However, pregnant employee can use their paid parental leaves up to 60 days prior to childbirth and shall be paid through social security. Parental Leave Act, 1995 (as amended), §§ 18-21.
A father is entitled to paid time off in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. Fathers may take 10 days’ leave in connection with the birth of a child. The 10 days leave must be taken before 60 days have passed since the childbirth or adoption. Parental Leave Act, 1995 (as amended), §§ 16.
There are the following various forms of parental leave for the care of children, etc.:
- Full leave for a parent until the child is 18 months or, provided that the parent then has a full parental allowance, for a period thereafter. An employee who has adopted a child or received a child with the intention of adopting it has the right to be completely free for 18 months from the time the worker received the child in his care. Leave expires when the child has reached the age of 8 or at a later date when the child has completed the first school year.
- Leave for a parent in the form of shortening of normal working hours by three-quarters, one-half, one-quarter, or one-eighth, while the parent has three-quarters, one-half, one-fourth, and one-eighth parental allowance, respectively. During the time when a parent receives three-quarters, half, one-fourth, or one-eighth parental allowance. The Social Insurance Code gives the parent the right to shorten normal working hours by three-quarters, one-half, one-quarter, and one-eighth, respectively. In the case of shortening of working hours, leave may be spread over all the days of the work week or be placed on certain or some of the days of the work week.
- Leave for a parent in the form of shortening of normal working hours by up to a quarter until the child is eight years of age. A parent has the right to shorten normal working hours by up to a quarter for the care of a child who has not reached the age of eight or who is older than this but has not yet completed his first school year.
- Leave for a worker’s temporary care for children.
- Leave for a parent in the form of shortening of normal working hours by up to one quarter if the child is paid a nursing allowance.
Parental Leave Act, 1995 (as amended), §§ 5-9.
A parent who needs to care for their child when the regular caregiver becomes ill or infected has the right to leave, even if the parent is not entitled to temporary parental allowance due to the:
- the child is younger than 240 days, or the child is younger than 240 days and the parent is covered under the Social Security Code.
Section 3 of the Social Security Code.
In addition to those discussed, employees may be entitled to various other kinds of leave, either under law or under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, including:
- Leave for Immigrants to study Swedish – An employee who has been admitted to municipal adult education in Swedish for immigrants or equivalent education at folk high school according to Chapter 20 or 24. The School Act (2010: 800) has the right to be vacant from its organization to participate in the teaching. The time during which an employee is unemployed under this Act is counted as worked time in the application of other regulations. The employer must be informed that the employee wants to exercise his right to leave at least one month before the start of the leave. The employee may interrupt an onset of leave and resume work to the same extent as before the leave. Act (1986:163) on the right to leave for education in Swedish for immigrants, Sec 1-3.
- Leave for political assignments at the local and regional levels in another country – The elected representatives have the right to leave their employment which is necessary for them to fulfill their duties. Leave should include time for meetings of municipal bodies, other meetings necessary for the assignments, travel to and from meetings, and necessary daily rest immediately before or after the meetings. The right to leave shall also apply to proxy members, board deputies, and lay auditors or equivalent other auditors and their alternates in legal entities The elected representatives have the right to reasonable compensation for the income and financial benefits they lose when they fulfill their tasks. Rev 2018: 26 Leave for political assignments at local and regional levels in another country.
- Leave to Conduct Business – An employee is entitled to full unpaid leave from work for a maximum of 6 months in order to conduct business activities himself or through a legal person. However, the employee’s business must not compete with the employer’s business. The leave must also not cause significant inconvenience to the employer’s activities. The employee will be eligible for leave if they have been employed by the employer for either the last 6 months or a total of at least 12 months in the last 2 years. An employee who wishes to exercise the right to leave must notify the employer of this at least 3 months before the start of the leave. Act (1997: 1293) on the right to leave to conduct business: Sections 3 and 4.
- Leave for urgent family reasons – An employee is entitled to full leave from their work during a period when they receive full related benefits from the social security bar and to shorten the working time to one-quarter, to one-half, or to three-quarters during a time when he or she receives three-quarters, half or a quarter’s compensation. Law (1998: 209) on the right to leave for urgent family reasons Section 1 & 2.
Under the 1974 Study Leave Act, employees have an absolute right to unpaid leaves of absence for study purposes when certain conditions are present. The study must be systematic but may be unrelated to the employee’s current work. The employee has an unconditional right to resume former employment, either the same job or an equivalent one, after completion of the studies or at an earlier date. Study Leave Act, 1974, §§ 31.