Discrimination, parental leave and right of association

In Sweden nobody may be subjected to discrimination.

Discrimination is prohibited

Nobody may be treated unfairly on the basis of:

  • gender
  • transgender identity or expression
  • ethnic origin
  • religion or other system of belief
  • disability
  • sexual orientation or
  • age

It is prohibited to persecute or sexually to harrass anybody. Harrassment is a behaviour that violates an individual’s dignity and that is connected to one of the grounds for discrimination listed above. By sexual harrassment is meant a behaviour of a sexual nature that violates the dignity of an individual.

It is prohibited for employers to show discrimination

An employer may not behave discriminatingly towards

  • employees
  • job applicants
  • trainees or applicant trainees
  • a person who is on standby to carry out or who is carrying out work as hired or borrowed manpower.

On the other hand you may be subjected to positive discrimination if it is suitable and necessary in order to achieve goals decided in law, such as for example to achieve equality between women and men. However, positive discrimination may not be implemented in connection with conditions of salaries or employment.

Harrassment must be investigated and attended to

If you experience that you have been subjected to persecution or sexual harrassment in connection with your work, then your employer must investigate this occurrence. Your employer is also obliged to implement measures necessary to ensure that harrassment and persecution will not occur in the future. The employer’s obligation is valid for everybody, even those who are carrying out assignments as hired or borrowed manpower.

Prohibition against reprisals

Your employer may not subject you to reprisals if you have:

  • reported or said that the employer has acted in a way that is against the law
  • taken part in an investigation according to the law
  • rejected or submitted to your employer’s persecution or sexual harrassment.

This prohibition is also valid in cases where somebody applies for a job, applies for or carries out work as a trainee, or is on standby to carry out or is carrying out work as hired or borrowed manpower.
The legislation against discrimination also includes the prohibition against the discrimination of part-time employees and employees with a temporary job.


Violation of the law against discrimination can lead to the employer’s being obliged to pay compensation to the injured party.

You can read the Discrimination Act here, opens in new window

This is how you make a report

If you want to make a report on discrimination then you can turn to the Equality Ombudsman, DO, who will follow up the case to see that the legislation is adhered to.

It does not cost anything to report discrimination to DO and DO can also give advice about how a report on discrimination should be made. If DO considers that a person has been subjected to discrimination then DO will represent that person if the case is taken to court.

Equality Ombudsman, DOs website, opens in new window

This is how the Parental Leave Act works

The Swedish regulations on parental leave are also valid for posted parties. You have the right for example to parental leave in connection with childbirth and you may not be subjected to discriminatory treatment. For women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth there are also regulations for their protection.

Mothers have the right to leave

If you are a woman, you have the right to full leave in connection with your child’s birth. You may be free from work for at least seven weeks before the calculated date of delivery and seven weeks after the delivery.

Prohibition against discriminatory treatment

Your employer may not treat you or any other job-seeker in a discriminatory way on the grounds of parental leave. The prohibition against discriminatory treatment is valid in several situations, such as when terms pertaining to wages and employment are to be decided, in the case of the management and distribution of work, in connection with decisions on promotion and when it comes to giving notice and dismissal. The prohibition is not valid in those cases in which different terms or treatment are a necessary consequence of parental leave.

If you are given notice or dismissed for reasons that are connected only to parental leave then the notice or dismissal must be declared null and void if you request that.

Are you expecting a child, have recently given birth or are breast-feeding?

If you have recently given birth or are breast-feeding then you have the right to be redeployed to another job without losing your employment benefits. The reason must be that you are unable to carry out your normal working tasks, for example if you must handle dangerous substances or that the work is physically taxing. The right to redeployment is not absolute. If your employer cannot arrange another job for you then redeployment is not possible. In that case you have the right instead to leave for as long as is necessary to protect your health and safety.

If you want to make use of your right to redeployment then you must report this to your employer. If it is not possible to redeploy you at once, then your employer must continually test the possibility of redeployment.


An employer who commits a breach of the provisions can be liable to damages to be paid to the employee.

You can read the Parental Leave Act here.
The Social Insurance Office can also provide more information on parental leave.

Parental Leave Act, Försäkringskassans website, opens in new window

The Social Insurance Offices website, opens in new window

Right of association, right to negotiation and no-strike rule

You also have the right to co-determination at work when it comes to the right of association, the right to negotiation and the no-strike rule.

By the right of association is meant the right to belong to an employees’ association (union) and to make use of one’s membership and to act for the organisation. The right of association may not be subjected to infringement. This means that you may not suffer disadvantage (for example by being dismissed) on acccount of having used your right of association.

The right to negotiation regulates the union’s right to negotiate with the employer/employers’ organisation on matters concerning the relationship between an employee (who is or has been a member of the organisation) and the employer.

If a collective agreement has been drawn up between the employer and a Swedish employees’ organisation then the no-strike rule obtains between them. They may in principle not use industrial action, for example strikes, against each other during the period of time during which the collective agreement is valid.

Any breach of the provisions concerning the right of association, the right to negotiation or the no-strike rule may result in the liability to damages.

You can read more about the Co-determination Act here, opens in new window

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Last updated 2018-05-09