Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

There is no single Swedish labor code, and such terms and conditions of employment as minimum wage rates are governed to a large extent by collective bargaining agreements. Sweden has been a member of the International Labor Organization since 1919 and has ratified 92 ILO conventions, 77 of which are currently in force. The conventions include those dealing with forced labor, freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, occupational safety and health and elimination of child labor.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Regulation of the duration and scheduling of work hours for the protection of employees is set out in the 1982 Working Hours Act. To a large extent, however, working time is regulated in collective agreements, although these cannot provide less favorable conditions for employees than those required under the European Community Directive on working time (2003/88/EC). In general, an eight­hour day is the norm, and regular working hours may not exceed 40 per week.


Overtime is permitted to a maximum of 48 hours during a four­week period or 50 hours per calendar month but cannot total more than 200 hours per calendar year. Swedish law contains no provisions on wages and consequently none on overtime pay. Instead, provisions on overtime pay are generally laid down by collective agreement. If the State Supervisory Authority grants the employer permission, a further 150 hours of extra overtime may be worked per year.


Overtime is generally paid for work done on days or during hours not normally worked. Collective bargaining agreements generally set the overtime premium at 50 percent or 100 percent of the ordinary hourly wage. Many collective agreements allow employees to opt for time off in lieu of compensation for overtime worked. Overtime pay and shift premiums are normally not paid simultaneously.

Night Work

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


Collective agreements often rest breaks for employees working shifts greater than a specified duration.

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 overtime pay for hours worked on a public holiday. Public Holidays Act, 1989, §§ 1­2.

Annual Leave

The Vacation Act provides that employees are entitled to 25 working days, equivalent to five weeks, of annual vacation. While on vacation, an employee is entitled to holiday pay to the extent it has accrued during the qualifying year. The qualifying year begins on April 1 and runs to March 31 and is the corresponding 12­-month period directly preceding the holiday year. Thus, the right to receive holiday pay must first be earned during a qualifying year. The entitlement to vacation applies even during the first year of employment, although if the employment commences after Aug. 31, the employee is entitled to only five days of vacation during the first holiday year. An employee may waive entitlement to annual leave that is not combined with holiday pay.It is common, however, for the rules governing holiday year and qualifying year to be amended by a sectoral collective agreement so that the calendar year is applied instead and the qualifying year and the holiday year coincide, so vacation is earned the same year it is taken. In principle, the employer is entitled to decide when employees will take annual vacation with the exception that at least four continuous weeks must be provided in a single uninterrupted block during June, July or August. The timing of annual vacation must be subject to negotiation between the employer and the trade union, however, and the parties to an employment contract(employer and employee) or a collective agreement (employer and union) are free to agree that vacation should be taken in other months. Vacation pay is intended to constitute 12 percent of all pay an employee earns during the qualifying year.


Employees accrue vacation pay during certain periods of absence during the qualifying year—for example, during an absence due to illness not exceeding 180 days, during a period of parental leave not exceeding 120 days, while taking education leave not exceeding 180 days and during military training not exceeding 60 days.


An employee with more than 20 days of accrued leave may carry forward one or more days for up to five years after the qualifying year. If employment is terminated before an employee uses accrued vacation, the employee is entitled to payment in lieu of vacation. Unless the employee agrees, an employer may not schedule vacation leave during a period of notice of termination. Annual Leave Act, 1977 (as amended), §§ 4­18.

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. An employee could potentially receive sickness benefits for approximately two and a half years. People suffering from serious illnesses can receive sickness benefits for an unlimited period of time. It is common under collective bargaining agreements for employees to receive supplementary sickness allowances corresponding to 10 percent of their normal pay for the first 75 days following exhaustion of their sick pay entitlement. 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

Parental leave is available in the form of full leave until the child reaches 18 months, partial leave in the form of a reduction of normal working hours of between one eighth and three ­quarters until the child reaches age 8 and time off for an employee’s occasional care of a child under the age of 12. Under the 1995 Parental Leave Act, parents have the right to time off in connection with pregnancy, childbirth and child care. In addition to parents, the act covers employees who are legal custodians of children or foster parents or who live on a permanent basis with the parent of a child provided that the employee is or has been married to or has had a child with the parent. This benefit applies to both men and women. Under the National Insurance Act, parents are entitled to a maximum 480 days’ salary replacement benefit per child. Sixty days of paid leave are reserved for each parent. A parent is free to transfer all but this 60 days of the parental benefit to the other parent. How much benefit an employee actually receives depends on annual income. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants or employees for reasons related to parental leave rights.

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 taking care of close relatives or for urgent family reasons;
  • Leave for immigrants to study Swedish;
  • Leave to start a new business;
  • Leave for job-­hunting;
  • Leave for holding elected political office;
  • Leave for school activities;
  • 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
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.

Last updated on: August 27th, 2018