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Global employment briefing: Sweden, February 2017

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


New provisions in the Discrimination Act

As previously reported in our HR Briefing in October 2016, new regulations in the Discrimination Act relating to proactive measures on the part of employers to combat discrimination, as well as wage monitoring, came into force on 1 January 2017. As before, the requirement of proactive measures cover working life and education but now encompass all grounds regulated in the Discrimination Act (sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation and age). The new rules also require employers to carry out wage monitoring on a yearly basis instead of every three years. The requirement for written documentation when carrying out wage monitoring has been extended to include employers with at least 10 employees instead of previously 25.

Enhanced protection for whistleblowers

A new act regarding whistleblowing was implemented on 1 January 2017. The new act gives enhanced protection against reprimands for employees who blow the whistle on serious misconduct at work. The following is required in order for the act to apply: a) the matter should concern serious misconduct, b) the employee should first raised the matter internally and the employer failed to take any action c) after having raised the matter internally, the employee has blown the whistle externally (in certain situations the employee can blow the whistle directly externally without having first to raise the matter internally), and d) the employee has cause to claim that it concerns serious misconduct. Employers reprimanding employees for whistleblowing may be liable for damages.

Proposal for amendments to the Posting of Workers Act

The Swedish Government presented on 16 December 2016 proposed amendments to the Posting of Workers Act. The purpose of the proposal is to enhance the Swedish labour market model and the position of collective bargaining agreements (CBA) in order for the model to also apply for the protection of posted workers.

There is no legislated minimum wage in Sweden and the unions have currently limited scope to control terms and conditions for posted workers. Instead, the existence of a CBA is a determining factor for the Swedish labour market model and therefore also in a posting of worker situation. According to the proposal, a union shall always be entitled to demand a CBA for posted workers and to use industrial action in that context. In order for the new system to be in compliance with EU law, the employment terms and conditions the union can take industrial actions about will be limited to minimum conditions and rights set out in the Posting of Workers Directive.

The Government’s proposal involves also increased union rights to check compliance with the applicable CBA as well as an employer’s obligation to appoint a contact person who is authorized to negotiate for the employer.

The amendments are proposed to take effect on 1 July 2017.

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