Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

In Sweden, terms, and conditions of employment as minimum wage rates are governed by the Working Time Act, Holiday Act, Public Holiday Act, Parental Act and several other acts defining various kinds of leave available to employees. 

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The regular working hours may not exceed 40 hours per week. The total working hours including overtime during each seven-day period may not exceed a maximum of 48 hours on average during a calculation period of a maximum of four months. Sec 5-6 of Working Time Act.


Overtime means when work hours exceed regular working hours and on-call hours according to the agreement or consent.


A maximum of 48 hours per employee for a period of four weeks can be worked as overtime. 50 hours during a calendar month. A maximum of 200 hours can be worked during a calendar year.


Extra Overtime

Overtime in addition to general overtime may be taken up to a maximum of 150 hours per employee during a calendar year if there are special reasons. Extra overtime and general overtime together may not exceed 48 hours per employee for a period of four weeks or 50 hours during a calendar month. Sec 7 – 11 of Working Time Act.

Night Work

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. Sec 13a of Working Time Act.


Employees are entitled to a break after 5 hours of continuous work. The number, length, and location of the breaks will be decided based on 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 are counted during working hours. Rest Breaks may be exchanged for meal breaks at the workplace. Such meal breaks are counted during working hours. Sec 15-17 of Working Time Act.


Daily Rest

All employees shall have at least 11 hours of continuous leave during each period of 24 hours. The time between 12 am and 5 am should be included in the daily rest that a worker is entitled to.


Deviations may be made temporarily, if this is caused by a special relationship that could not be foreseen by the employer, provided that the employee is given the corresponding compensation leave.


Deviations may be made if the work must be carried out between midnight and 5 am according to its nature, the public’s needs or other special circumstances. Sec 13 of the Working Time Act.


Weekly Rest

An employee is entitled to at least 36 hours of continuous leave 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.


The deviation may only be made on the condition that the employee is given the corresponding compensation leave. Sec 14 of the Working Time Act.

Sunday Work

Collective agreements often require special rates of pay for work outside normal hours (shift premiums).

Public Holidays

Employees are entitled to the following 13 paid public holidays:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • Epiphany
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • Easter Monday
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • Ascension
  • June 6: National Day
  • Whit Sunday
  • June 21: Midsummer Day
  • Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day
  • Dec. 25: Christmas
  • Dec. 26: Boxing Day

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.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to 25 full working days of vacation every year regardless of age or type of employment. Employees are entitled to a continuous vacation of four weeks during the period of June – August. 


According to the contract of employment or collective agreement or both, the employee may be entitled to an additional number of vacation days. The year after the qualifying year is called the vacation 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 vacation until 1 April the following year. Unless otherwise specified in a collective agreement or contract of employment, the employee will be allocated annual vacation days on 1 April every year.


An employee who switches employment is entitled to vacation leave with the new employer only to the extent that the employee has not already had such leave with the former employer.


Vacation Pay is 12% of the income during the qualifying year (the year preceding the annual holiday year). 



An employee is entitled to transfer 5 days of vacation days per year up to 5 consecutive years. To transfer vacation days, a worker must be eligible for more than 20 days of annual leave. Sec 3 – 24 of Annual Leave Act.

Minimum Wage

There is no statutory minimum wage in Sweden.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

 Under the 1991 Sick Pay Act, an employee is entitled to receive sick pay during an absence from work due to illness or rehabilitation and is protected from dismissal on the grounds of illness. If an illness extends beyond the basic sick pay entitlement, the employee can receive additional benefits under the National Insurance Act. The employer is required to notify the Social Insurance Agency in such a situation. In general, an employee can receive sickness benefits for up to 364 days during a 15 ­month period, and under certain conditions, this period can be extended. The extended sickness benefit is approximately 75 percent of the employee’s annual income for a maximum of 550 days. 

Employers must pay sickness benefits for the first two weeks of an employee’s absence minus the first day at a rate of 80 percent of the employee’s salary. If the period of absence lasts longer than two weeks, sickness benefits are paid by the Social Insurance Agency. Beginning January 1, 2019, employers will be required to reduce paid sickness benefits by 20 percent during the first week of an employee’s absence and pay the employee for the first sick day. Sick Pay Act, 1991 (as amended), §§ 3­-10.

Maternity Leave

The Parental Leave Act provides maternity leave in connection with childbirth (seven continuous weeks of leave preceding childbirth and seven weeks after childbirth) and breast ­feeding. Parental Leave Act, 1995 (as amended), §§ 1­6.

Paternity Leave

Fathers may take 10 days’ leave in connection with the birth of a child. Parental Leave Act, 1995 (as amended), §§ 1­6.

Parental Leave

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 workweek or be placed on certain or some of the days of the workweek.
      • Leave for a parent in the form of a shortening of normal working hours by up to a quarter until, in the main case, 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.

Caregiver Leave

A parent who needs to care for his or her 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 child is younger than 240 days, or
      • the child is younger than 240 days and the parent is covered by the provisions of Chapter 37. 

Section 3 of the Social Security Code.

Personal Leave

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.
          • Leave for political assignments at a local and regional level in another country – People with political assignments at a local and regional level in another country within the European Economic Area, which corresponds to the assignments set out in Chapter 4. Sections 1–2 and section 11, second paragraph, of the Municipal Act, and which are employed in Sweden, shall be entitled to leave from their employment to the extent specified in Chapter 4. Section 11, the first paragraph of the Municipal Act.  Rev 2018: 26 Leave for political assignments at the local and regional level in another country.
          • Municipal Duty Leave – The elected representatives have the right to leave from their employment that is necessary for them to fulfill their duties. Leave should include time for meetings of municipal bodies, other meetings necessary for the assignments, trips 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. Municipal Law (2017: 725) Sect 11 and 12.
          • Leave to Conduct Business – An employee is entitled to full unpaid leave from work for a maximum of six 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. Act (1997: 1293) on the right to leave to conduct business: Section 3 and 4.
          • Leave for urgent family reasons – An employee is entitled to leave from his employment for urgent family reasons related to illness or accident and which makes the immediate presence of the employee absolutely necessary. Law (1998: 209) on the right to leave for urgent family reasons Sect 1.
Unpaid Study Leave

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, §§ 3­-1.


Leave Based on Collective Agreement

    • Leave for military service,
    • Leave for the funeral of a close family member,
    • Leave for the employee’s own 50th birthday and
    • Leave for marriage.

Last updated on: July 6th, 2021