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Global Employment Briefing: Sweden, June 2018

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


Recent employment developments in Sweden of interest for global employers:

Improving the protection of employers’ trade secrets from July 2018 in Sweden

New legislation to implement the EU directive on the protection of trade secrets (2016/943) comes into force on 1 July 2018 and will replace the Act on the Protection of Trade Secrets (1990:409).

Under current law, use or disclosure of trade secrets is not considered unlawful if the discloser had the employer’s permission to access the material prior to using or disclosing it. This has meant that employees are rarely found guilty of a criminal offence or face criminal sanctions if they use or disclose their employer’s trade secrets. This was confirmed in a case in 2003 where an employee of the Ericsson group sold trade secrets to a Russian intelligence officer but was cleared of all criminal charges because he had sold only information he had accessed legitimately through his employment.

A purpose of the new Act is to improve the protection of trade secrets for employers. So, for example, in the lead up to the new Act it was made clear that employees who take documents containing trade secrets home, to use them for their own benefit without their employer’s consent, should face criminal charges even though they may have had legal access to the documents in the workplace. Intent or negligence on the part of the employee will be required but examples might include employees who copy documents containing trade secrets or conceal such documents by transferring them to their private computer.

Amendments to occupational pensions

A new Act implementing the EU directive on occupational pensions (2014/50) comes into force on 9 June 2018.

Occupational pension contributions from Swedish employers are regulated primarily by individual and collective agreements. The new Act sets out obligations upon employers with regard to such agreements, to ensure certain fundamental rights are protected for their employees. An agreement will generally be considered invalid to the extent it deviates from the requirements of the Act.

Among other things, the new Act states that, if an agreement seeks to limit access to pension rights according to length of service, then the maximum period of service cannot be more than three years. Similarly, if an agreement seeks to impose age requirements upon eligibility, then the maximum age permitted is 21. The new Act also states that an employer must provide information at the employee’s request on how a termination of the employment would affect the occupational pension.

Changes to seasonal employment

A new chapter in the Aliens Act (2005:716) implementing the EU seasonal workers directive (2014/36) came into force on 1 June 2018.

The new chapter introduces a system of permits for seasonal work. Permits must be granted to foreigners in third countries who have been offered employment as seasonal workers in Sweden by an employer established in Sweden. The permit takes the form of a work permit for seasonal work if the stay in Sweden is shorter than 90 days or is a combined residence and work permit for seasonal work for longer stays.

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