Labour legislation and wages

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How Swedish labour legislation works

On this siteyou can read how labour legislation works in Sweden. We describe what applies in the case of minimum wage and also a change in the posting law that has come into force in Sweden after the so-called Laval verdict. Here you can also read about what applies in the case of private employment agencies.

Have you been hired by a private employment agency?

In the law concerning private employment agencies and the hiring out of manpower (the Employment Agency Act) there are provisions concerning staffing agencies.

Anyone hiring out manpower may for example not demand, draw up an agreement concerning or receive remuneration from job applicants or employees for offering or assigning them a job.

The Swedish model

In Sweden there are regulations for labour legislation in laws, collective agreements and private employment agreements.

Certain laws are imperative, others can be subjected to negotiation so that they do not apply. This means that in certain other agreements and collective agreements (agreements that are entered into between union organisations and employers) decisions can be made that differ from what is written in the law.

Collective agreements are very common in Sweden and they cover a great proportion of the job market.

In a private employment agreement the employee and the employer are the parties involved. An employment agreement can contain provisions from laws and collective agreements as well as additional terms.

The collective agreement

The collective agreement is a written contract. It can contain terms of employment (for example wages, leave and working hours) and such matters as have been agreed upon apart from these between the employer and the employee (matters for negotiation).

The collective agreement supplements the laws belonging to labour legislation and can replace them in cases where the law permits this. Only certain parties may negotiate about a collective agreement. A private employer may negotiate as may the organisation in which the employer is a member. However, as an employee your only option is to be represented by your union in negotiations about a collective agreement.

If you are a member of a union in Sweden then you are bound by that organisation’s collective agreement. Even if you are not a member of any union your employer has the right to apply the terms in the collective agreement that has been negotiated at the company.

The employee’s organisations are to submit to the Swedish Work Environment Authority the conditions in the collective bargaining agreement which they are to demand through the use of industrial action. Below is a list of agreements that have been received by the Work Environment Authority so far.

Collective agreement IF Metall, pdf, opens in new window

Collective agreement IF Metall technique, pdf, opens in new window

SEKO - The Union for Service and Communications Employees, pdf, opens in new window

Collective agreement for posted employees transport work, pdf, opens in new window


Industrial peace obligation

As long as the collective agreement is valid the industrial peace obligation should in principle prevail between the parties to the agreement and their members. This means that they may not use industrial action, for example strikes, against each other.

Local collective agreement

A local collective agreement is a contract between an employer who is not a member of an employers’ organisation and an employees’ organisation. The agreement is in itself not a collective agreement but an agreement about the validity of provisions in a certain collective agreement for the employees concerned.

Local collective agreements between union organisations and foreign companies are common in Sweden.

Minimum pay in Sweden

In Sweden there is no law about minimum pay. The State does not check that terms of payment are adhered to either.

In Sweden minimum pay is decided in various collective agreements. Different branches may have different collective agreements. It is the organisations that have decided upon the collective agreement that together are responsible for the contents of the agreement and that the agreement is adhered to. This is also the case when it comes to pay.

Thus it is the union organisations that negotiate with the employers and employers’ organisations concerning the minimum pay that is to be valid for a particular branch. It is also these organisations that have the task of checking that the terms of the collective agreement are followed.

Minimum pay for posted employees

Since there are no Swedish laws dealing with minimum pay, there is no particular level of pay that is automatically valid for you.
Minimum pay is dealt with in Swedish collective agreements and varies from branch to branch.

The Swedish employers’ organisations are the parties who negotiate with employers responsible for posting in order to get them to sign Swedish collective agreements for their workers.
Foreign companies can of course also become members of the Swedish employers’ associations and in this way become bound by Swedish collective agreements.

An employees’ organisation may not use industrial action in order to establish a Swedish collective agreement if an employer can show that the employees are already covered by terms which are at least as good as those in a Swedish central branch agreement.

What is your minimum pay?

If you have any questions concerning the collective agreement/s and the minimum pay that are valid for a particular branch, then you can contact the employers’ and employees’ organisations.

The employers’ and employees’ organisations

Industrial action during posting

After a verdict in the EU Court of Law, the so-called Laval verdict, a number of changes have been made in the provisions concerning posting. Since 15 April 2010 the following are valid:

  • union organisations now have other possibilities of using industrial action against employers responsible for posting.
  • the terms valid in the case of posting must be handed in to the Work Environment Authority by the parties to a collective agreement in the said collective agreement.

The new paragraph 5 a in the Foreign Posting of Employees Act was introduced after the Laval verdict. It describes situations in which it is permitted to use industrial action against an employer responsible for posting.

Organisations can use industrial action against an employer in order to achieve a collective agreement for the posted employees. In order to be able to use industrial action the issue must concern

  • minimum terms in a Swedish central branch agreement (an agreement that is valid generally in the whole country for a particular branch)
  • the terms valid for leave, working hours, pay and similar
  • the terms in the collective agreement being better than those already in force according to Swedish law.

An employees’ organisation may not use industrial action to achieve a Swedish collective agreement if an employer can show that the employees are already included in terms and conditions that are at least as good as those in a Swedish central branch agreement.

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Last updated 2017-10-09