Questions and answers about social and organisational work environment

Frequently asked questions and answers

Why are there new provisions about organisational and social work environment? 

People shouldn’t need to get sick due to unhealthy workloads or victimization at work. The labour market and working life have changed, as has knowledge about what causes form the basis of work-related ill health in the working life of today. The new provisions have been developed in consultation with the labour market partners, and have a focus on preventive work environment management. These regulations concretise the Swedish Work Environment Act, which is a general legislation, and clarify – as well as supplement – the systematic work environment management that all employers are obliged to carry out. Clearer regulations make it easier for employers to do the right thing, as well as strengthen legal rights in the field.

What is covered by the new provisions?

The provisions apply to all activities in which employees perform work on the employer’s account. Those who hire manpower are placed on an equal footing with employers. It is the employer who has the responsibility for the provisions and The Work Environment Act being followed. Those who are undergoing education or are in custody in an institution are not placed on an equal footing with employees in connection with the application of these provisions and are therefore not covered by them.

When will the new provisions come into effect?

On 31 March 2016, new provisions about Organisational and social work environment (AFS 2015:4) will come into effect.

Will the provisions be produced in other languages?

The provisions are available in English and can be downloaded as a pdf on our website.

What are organisational and social work environments, respectively?

Organisational work environment encompasses conditions and prerequisites for the work that include: management and governance, communication, participation, room for action, and allocation of work tasks, as well as demands, resources, and responsibilities.

Social work environment deals with conditions and prerequisites for the work that include social interaction, collaboration, and social support from managers and colleagues.

What are the advantages of preventive work environment management in this area

Research shows that preventive work with organisational and social questions can promote productivity and creativity in an organisation. In addition there is a great likelihood that the number of cases of illness and sick leave, which are associated with high costs for both employees and society, will decrease.

What support do employers have in order to be able to meet the new demands?

The Swedish Work Environment Authority will be producing a guide that provides employers with concrete advice and examples for applying the provisions. The guide will be ready during the spring of 2016. Apart from the guide and information campaigns, the partners on the labour market, industry organisations, occupational health services and educational organisations are tremendously important for meeting the educational needs that arise in connection with new provisions.

What consequences will the new provisions have for employers?

The new rules support employers in their work on preventing ill health in the workplace; the clearer regulations make it easier for them to do the right thing.
The somewhat higher administrative costs that the new regulations entail will likely be recovered in lower costs for any absences due to illness and to rehabilitation. At the same time, healthy organisations have healthier, more motivated employees. This can also support activities in the form of both higher productivity and creativity. If the rules are not followed, demands can be placed on the employer and fines can be imposed by the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

What consequences will the new regulations have for employees?

We expect that the new regulations will reduce the risk of people becoming sick owing to unhealthy workloads or victimization at work. We also expect that the regulations will provide employees with support in taking up organizational and social work environment issues in the workplace to a greater extent, when necessary.

What responsibilities do staff have in contributing to a good work environment?

According to Chapter 3, Paragraph 4 of the Work Environment Act, employees must take part and follow the provisions and regulations that apply in the workplace. Employees also have the obligation to notify someone if there are acute risks in the workplace. One important message is that employees should communicate, not compensate for, shortcomings in the work environment. It is vital that everyone is involved in work environment management. Participation is a very important aspect of the social work environment.

Can you provide some examples of what employers should do, purely concretely?

Below are a few concrete examples of what an employer can do to prevent ill health arising in the workplace.

Unhealthy workload:

Make sure that the resources are adapted to whatever demands are imposed in the work. If the demands are greater than the resources, the employer can – for example – reduce the amount of work, change the order of priority, provide opportunities for rest and recovery or increase staffing. The employer needs to make sure that a dialogue is conducted between employer and employees in order to prevent ill health arising.

Working hours:

Certain types of working hours – shift work, night work, long work periods, and being constantly reachable – can negatively affect health. In that case, it is especially important to take this into account when working hours are planned, for example that time for rest and recovery is planned in.


Be clear that victimization is not acceptable – explained in a policy, for example – and that there are procedures for what is to be done if victimization arises. The procedure include such things as how and where the person subjected to victimization can obtain help. They can obtain help, for example, from an occupational health service.

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Last updated 2015-12-21