We have collected a number of frequently asked questions and answers and will continuously fill up with more. Is there any question you miss? Please contact kommunikation@sulf.se.

Information about the coronavirus

March 19, 2020
Below we have collected some important questions and answers regarding the coronavirus. As information and recommendations are subject to change, we also recommend that you consult the information provided by the relevant authorities.

Folkhälsomyndigheten, The Swedish Public Health Agency.
Krisinformation.se, Emergency information from Swedish authorities.
Arbetsgivarverket, The Swedish Agency for Government Employers (in Swedish).
Försäkringskassan, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
1177 Vårdguiden, the healthcare advice telephone service, has information about when you need to contact the healthcare service and about treatment.

SULF has decided to suspend all centrally organised activities during March and April. For local events, the local SULF association at the relevant higher education institute will decide whether the activity should go ahead as planned. If the SULF Central Office receives information regarding cancelled events, we will include this information in our events calendar (in Swedish). (16/3)

The decision means that at you are entitled to receive sick pay from the first day if you fall ill and need to stay home from work. On March 11, the government and its collaboration partners announced that the compensation-free sick leave period will not be enforced during a limited period and that the state will bear that cost. The applicable time period is from March 11 to May 31, with the possibility of extension.

Just as before, the employer will not pay sick pay for the first day of sick leave, but will make a deduction (i.e. what was previously the qualifying, compensation-free day), but you will receive compensation for this deduction from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan). Please note that you must claim reimbursement from the Social Insurance Agency for the deduction yourself. You will be able to do so retroactively from the day the rule became applicable.

The extra 10 per cent, (plus the almost 90 per cent of salary that exceeds the maximum salary level compensated for by the Social Insurance Agency), that the employer pays as a supplement applies only after the sick pay period, i.e. from day 15, which is when sickness benefit is paid by the state. Before that, the level of 80 per cent of the salary (sick pay) applies. (19/3)

The government has decided that the requirement for a medical certificate from the eighth day of sick leave is to be temporarily waived. Therefore, you do not need a medical certificate for the first 14 days of a sickness period. (16/3)

As part of its role and obligation to manage and direct staff, the employer may require that your work be carried out away from the workplace, but of course you have the right to receive your salary as usual. (16/3)

If your employer decides without citing grounds stated in the Swedish Contingency Protection Act that you are to work at home or completely refrain from working, you are entitled to receive salary. For example, the employer may have decided as a precautionary measure that all employees should work from home. (16/3)

Only medical doctors are able to decide whether to place a person in quarantine if they have been or can be presumed to have been infected. If such a decision has been made, you must not work. If you work in the state sector, the collective agreement states that you are entitled to retain your salary if a doctor has decided that you must not work because you are, or are suspected to be, a carrier of infection. This is referred to as disease carrier pay.

If you do not work in the state sector and are not allowed to work because you are infected or may be infected with the coronavirus, you may receive disease carrier allowance from the state. The Swedish Social Insurance Agency decides which form of compensation you are entitled to. (16/3)

Yes. At present, the relevant authorities do not recommend any general closure of workplaces. If your employer chooses to close the workplace anyway, you are entitled to your salary as normal. (16/3)

No, employees whose working hours and salary are reduced because the employer wishes to adapt to ongoing conditions in an economic downturn, known as short-time working, cannot receive unemployment benefit for the income they lose. Only those who are made redundant and unemployed full-time or part-time can receive compensation, and in such cases it is important that you have been a member of the unemployment insurance fund, (a-kassa), in accordance with information from the Akademikernas a-kassa fund. (16/3)

No, you cannot demand to work from home. Absence from the workplace without permission can be seen as a refusal to work, and you therefore run the risk of serious consequences.

You should try to have a dialogue with your employer and talk about why you are worried and what solutions might be possible. If you are able to do your job from home, it may be an option but not something that you can demand. As part of its role and obligation to manage and direct staff, the employer may require that your work be carried out in the workplace. (16/3)

The employer can only manage your work within the scope of your employment contract. The matter of an employee’s obligation to work at home therefore depends on the employment contract and what agreements exist between the employee and the employer.

When working at home, the employment contract applies in the normal way, as well as the rights and obligations that come with the job. The employer is responsible for the employee’s work environment even when work is carried out at home. In order to ensure that the work environment in the home is satisfactory and does not pose a risk of ill health, the employer must have a continuous dialogue with the employee on issues such as the work environment.

For more information about occupational health and safety issues for people working from home, see the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s website (in Swedish).

A person who suffers an accident while working at home may be insured for occupational accidents at work under the terms of the Personal Injury Agreement (PSA). However, this only applies if the accident is clearly and directly related to work carried out for the employer. The website of the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, Arbetsgivarverket, has more details regarding this particular question (in Swedish).


The employer can impose such work on you, but you should ensure that it is properly documented, for example by updating your work task plan plan so that it is clearly stated that you are obliged to work in addition to that which was stated in the original plan. Since teachers have annual working hours, working hours can be reallocated during the year. If at the end of the year it turns out that you have been ordered to work in addition to your normal annual working hours, you are entitled to overtime or extra-time compensation, depending on whether you work full-time or part-time.

You can read more about annual working hours, the local working hours agreement at your university and the compensation levels that apply here (in Swedish). (17/3)

In this situation, your employer is not required to pay your salary. However, you may have the right to be parental leave under the Parental Leave Act. Other options may be that you agree with your employer that you will work from home or take part of your annual holiday or leave of absence.

You have the right to take leave for child care purposes (VAB) with temporary parental allowance in accordance with Chapter 13 of the Social Insurance Code and Section 8 of the Parental Leave Act if a child is ill, is a carrier of infection or its usual carer is sick. This also applies if there is a genuine suspicion that the child is spreading infection, for example if a doctor or nurse has made such an assessment. (16/3)

SULF is of the opinion that higher education institutes should primarily look into the possibility of completing dissertations on schedule with the aid of digital channels. If this is not possible, our view is that you are to continue to be employed until the doctorate can be completed. This is a situation that is beyond your control and SULF’s opinion is that the circumstances are such that there are special reasons to extend the employment period beyond four years of full-time studies. SULF has ensured that this issue has been raised with the Government Offices, as higher education institutes may need support to finance such extensions.

Please note that it is not possible to receive unemployment benefit if your employment ends and the studies have not been completed. Normally, a doctorate is regarded as completed when the dissertation has submitted for printing and all courses have been completed. For more information on this matter, please contact the Akademikernas a-kassa unemployment insurance fund. (17/3)

No, the employer does not decide what you do in your spare time and cannot demand that you cancel a trip. If you agree with the employer and they can pay for the cancelled holiday, that may be a solution, but it is not something that the employer can demand. At the time of writing, the Swedish authorities recommend that people avoid all unnecessary travel, regardless of country. (16/3)

Traditionally the university teacher, and not the university, owns the copyright to teaching or research material. Consequently the university normally may not use the teacher’s copyright-protected material without permission.

No there is no difference. Copyright, and the intellectual property rights of academic staff, apply to both teachers and researchers in the same way.

There is an intellectual property rights of academic staff stated in the Right to Inventions by Employees Act. However there is also such an exception within copyright. This follows a tradition that has been observed for a very long period of time and is described in several government reports.

Yes. If something is to be protected by copyright it must contain a certain amount of independence and originality, what is termed its level of originality. However, requirements concerning independence and originality are not strict and, in practice, most material that is lectured, written, drawn or created in any other way is protected by copyright.
There may be exceptions, see the question If the teacher is paid to work extra hours to create this course material, does this affect copyright?

Yes, in this situation a department, or the equivalent at a university, may have acquired a certain right of use to the teaching material. This applies only, however, if there is an agreement between the teacher and university that the extra fee is payment so that the university will be entitled to use the material. This must always be assessed in each individual case.

As copyright owner, teachers make their own decisions as to whether presentations or other material is put up on the course webpage. It is necessary that the university has gained the permission of the teacher to store the teaching material digitally. Consequently the university may not transfer digital material in any other manner to the students, for example by e-mail. The teacher’s permission is necessary to do this.

According to the intellectual property rights of academic staff, copyright of lectures belongs to the teacher, and the university must obtain the teacher’s permission to put recorded lectures up on the course webpage.

The point of departure is that teachers, as originators, own the copyright to their teaching material. However, copyright can be partially or fully transferred to another party, for example the university. Creating presentations, compendiums etc. lies outside the teachers’ normal teaching duties and, if the university is to have any rights to use this material, an agreement between the teacher and the university is required. On the other hand normal teaching duties do include producing timetables, syllabuses, course information and examining students, and the department or equivalent of the university where the teacher works is entitled to use such material in their own operations.

No. Copyright applies irrespective of the technology used to store the material. Consequently it makes no difference whether the material is on paper or in digital form only – the same preconditions for protection apply. Today material in digital form can be found everywhere, for example on Internet, course websites etc.

Changes, updates, reworking (or similar) of teaching material is only permitted if the owner of the copyright, the teacher, grants approval.

If the university is entitled to use the material for teaching, this does not mean that the university is allowed to make changes to it – the teacher must also be contacted in this case. If there is no permission in place then altering the material is an infringement of the teacher’s copyright.

Students may, according to the private copying regulations in the Copyright Act, record teaching. No permission from the teacher is required. However the right to copy for private use may be limited if the teacher, as a condition of participation in the lecture, states that no recordings may be made. The university may also apply a local recording ban via local regulations.

Students may not then give their recordings to their fellow students or put them up on websites such as Youtube or Facebook. This is the illegal use of the teacher’s copyright-protected lecture and is an infringement of the teacher’s copyright.

The copyright owner, the teacher, determines whether the teaching material is to be copied and who is to receive the copies. However teaching material is normally registered as an official document which means that other teachers or students may request a copy of the course material in accordance with the principal of public access to official documents.

The copyright owner, the teacher, makes all decisions concerning his/her own copyright-protected material. You may hand it over if you wish to but you cannot be compelled to hand over your copyright-protected material to someone else

It is entirely up to you whether you wish to put up your material online. If the university wishes to put the course material online then they must have permission from the copyright owner.

This is not a copyright issue, this is a question of working tasks. Normally a teacher is not duty-bound to allow him/herself to be recorded, however if teachers are employed to supply, for example, distance teaching then there is a duty inherent in their employment conditions.

Please note that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may also be applicable as this may be an issue of processing of personal data.

SULF recommends that you discuss copyright terms with your employer before recording any lectures or lessons. This may involve such matters as the scope of the university’s right to use the material which is to be used for distance teaching, e.g. recorded lectures, compendia and study assignments, and how the material is to be updated and quality assured. It is SULF’s view that, as a general rule, the intellectual property rights of academic staff apply to materials used in distance education.

If you have any questions regarding copyright and intellectual property issues, please contact the local union representative at your higher education institution.

You can find more information about copyright and the intellectual property rights of academic staff here.

As for anyone else, the Copyright Act is fully applicable for doctoral candidates. If a person has produced material that meets the requirements of originality, that person retains the copyright to the material. The copyright is not affected by the fact that the person who produced the material is a doctoral candidate. What can complicate the issue is copyrighted material may be the result of several people working in collaboration, for example supervisors collaborating with doctoral candidates. If such cases, they share the copyright.

Joint copyright means that copyright holders have rights to the material together. Note that copyright is shared, which means that one party cannot utilise the material unilaterally. A supervisor may not use material which is jointly copyrighted without the approval of the other copyright holders, e.g. doctoral candidates.

Any person who uses another’s material can also be guilty of research fraud. Chapter 1, Section 16 of the Higher Education Ordinance states that a higher education institute is obliged to investigate suspicions of misconduct in research if it has been notified or otherwise becomes aware that misconduct may have occurred. Notification can be made anonymously.

Creative Commons is a private, independent and co-financed organisation that claims to be non-profit and to strive for copyright owners to easily access a tool through their licenses that enables them to have a platform and to distribute and share their material without having to give up all the rights that copyright implies. There are four main types of CC licence, whereby the copyright owner allows the use of copyrighted material to varying degrees and for different purposes, depending on the license he or she chooses. If you are considering using a CC licence, you should first ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of the licence.

According to the collective agreement for the state sector, (Villkorsavtal-T), you are entitled to leave in order to work at another employer in the state sector for up to two years. This right only applies to a full-time position. Other cases concerning requests for leave of absence for other employment are to be decided on by the employer. My advice is to ask your employer if it would be possible to arrange a 50 per cent leave of absence to pursue this opportunity. Could it perhaps be something your current employer could also benefit from? Try to find good arguments and solutions for how the situation can be resolved in the best way for your current employer too.

You can find more information and advice here.

According to LAS, Section 15, (in Swedish) the employer must give written notice at least one month before the end of your employment period if you have been employed for at least twelve months by the same employer over the past three years. Consequently, you should have received written notice that your employment will be terminated. If you do not receive a new employment contract from your manager as soon as possible, contact your local trade union representative to help you with your situation.

Employment as a substitute is a fixed-term form of employment covered by the Employment Protection Act, (LAS). Therefore, according to LAS, Section 5a, (in Swedish) the substitute position must be converted to a permanent position if you have been employed as a substitute for a total of more than two years over a five-year period.

If your current employment is an ALVA employment position, however, deployment for a period longer than five years when adding up all the different fixed-term contract jobs may be counted as a basis for permanency. When adding up fixed-term employment contracts only ALVA, temporary or seasonal work may be taken into account. For periods to be considered for adding up, there may not be more than 6 months between contracts.

The employment contract you have when the two-year limit is passes will be converted into a permanent position. If it is a full-time position, then the permanent position becomes full-time, if it is a part-time position then the permanent job will be the equivalent part-time position. This is regardless of the extent of your previous employment history.

A decision on holiday scheduling is to be regarded as a legal contract with binding force that the employer cannot unilaterally withdraw from without justification. If this does occur, the employer may be liable to pay damages (according to case law in the Labour Court).

Remaining holidays must be paid at a value of 5.09 percent of the monthly salary per holiday day, including holiday salary supplement. The employer cannot schedule holidays retroactively, and saved holidays can never be scheduled without the employee’s consent, even if you know that an employment period is going to end. If the year’s holiday is scheduled without your agreement, this must occur at least two months in advance. In addition, holidays may not be scheduled during a notice period without employee consent if the notice period is a maximum of six months.

If you have a doctoral candidate employment in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance, you have the same benefits as other employees, (in accordance with Villkorsavtal-T).

Employees who terminate their employment at a university before taking out all paid holiday days are entitled to be paid holiday compensation by the university if they have not been able to take out all holiday days as free time while employed.

My advice is to check with the HR-department so there is no misunderstanding about the number of days you are entitled to and will be compensated for.

Sometimes the employer argues that you should take all your saved holiday days before the expiration of the employment. Here you can read some more advice if this happens.

A scholarship can never be considered as income on which to base unemployment benefits. However, it may be possible to discount the period on the scholarship if, for example, you have studied (on postgraduate education) or during a postdoc period and have had this period approved as studies by the unemployment insurance fund. Furthermore, your studies must have been full-time and you may only discount five years.

Read about the special regulations concerning unemployment benefits here.

The application form for SULF income insurance, (administrated by Folksam), has to either be sent by e-mail or printed out and sent to Folksam, to the address at the bottom of the application form. It is important that you attach the relevant decision if you are entitled to benefits from Trygghetsstiftelsen or other benefits in addition to Akademikernas a-kassa. Your income insurance will be activated directly after the period of benefits from Trygghetsstiftelsen expires.

Here is some more information about the SULF income insurance.

No. You must choose which income insurance you wish to use.

No. In order to receive payments from income insurance, you must be entitled to income-related benefits from an unemployment insurance fund. This means that you need to have been a member of both SULF and an unemployment insurance fund, (for example Akademikernas a-kassa), for at least twelve months in order to benefit from this insurance.

If you are not yet a member of the unemployment insurance fund, join Akademikernas a-kassa now.

SULF income insurance does not apply if you voluntarily leave your job and this termination results in a non-payment period from
the unemployment insurance fund, (i.e. termination without employer action), which is normal. If, on the other hand, according
to the rules of the Akademikernas a-kassa there are valid reasons for your leaving, there will be no suspension of payments. Read more about valid reasons here.

Leave of absence

More information about leave of absence.

According to our central collective agreement, (Villkorsavtal-T, Chapter 13, Section 1), you are entitled to take leave of absence to try another job that is also covered by the same agreement. This includes a large number of jobs within the state sector. The agreement specifies that you have the right to take leave of absence when you have been permanently employed by an employer for at least twelve months. The job you want leave of absence for must be a time-limited contract position. If you are offered a permanent job that starts with a probationary period of six months, you are also entitled to take leave under the same rule.

You may take leave of absence in this manner for up to two years according to the central agreement. However, if you have been offered a fixed-term contract with reference to the Higher Education Ordinance, you may be entitled to a longer period of leave. Jobs that are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance include doctoral candidate positions
and assistant professor positions.

If you do not meet the requirements described above, you may still be granted leave for up to six months or more according to Chapter 13, Section 3 if the university considers that there are special reasons for this.

If you are employed by a state agency, the central collective agreement Villkorsavtal-T stipulates that you are entitled to leave of absence to take up any fixed-term employment regulated by the Higher Education Ordinance (in Swedish), for example employment as a doctoral candidate. Therefore, if you have been granted a doctoral candidate position, you are entitled to take leave of absence for the entire period of the fixed-term position as doctoral student.

If your permanent position is not in the state sector, you may still have the right to take leave of absence for doctoral studies under the provisions of the Student Leave Act (in Swedish). SULF’s interpretation is that employment as a doctoral candidate counts as education in accordance with Chapter 5, Sections 1 and 2 of the Act, and that you therefore have the right to take leave of absence for the entire period of the doctoral studies. The right to leave in accordance with the Act applies to employees who at the beginning of the leave have been employed by the employer for the previous six months or for a total of at least twelve months during the previous two years. However, the employer has the right to postpone the leave of absence for up to 6 months.

You have the right to appeal to the Higher Education Appeals Board (ÖNH). Your appeal must be made within three weeks of the announcement of the employment decision. The appeal must be made in writing.

If an employment decision is to be upheld against a possible appeal, the university must be able to show that the factors underlying the decision are the same as those presented in the qualification requirements in the advertisement, and that the qualification requirements are relevant in order to be able to carry out the job adequately. A state sector employer is not permitted to change qualification requirements during a recruitment process.

There is no limit, but in the case of a permanent job the processing period is often longer than for fixed-term employment contracts, and a benchmark is at least three weeks. In the case of job appointments where expert assessment is required, which is necessary for lecturer and professor appointments, the period between the final application date and the decision may be several months.

The first thing you should do is read through your employment contract. It is a binding agreement between both parties and may be oral or written. We recommend that you request a written employment contract so that no confusion or misunderstanding arises afterwards. Do not sign it until you have understood the terms of employment and agreed on the salary. Also, find out when the next salary review will take place and if you will be part of it.

The contract is to be signed by both you and your manager and the following information is to be included: The parties’ names, contact details, starting date, place of employment, form of employment, title, salary and any salary benefits and scope of employment.

Holidays, occupational pensions, working hours, notice periods and other terms of employment are usually regulated in collective agreements. The agreement that applies to your particular workplace may be obtained from your employer or your local trade union representative. Within the state, Villkorsavtal- T (in Swedish) applies. There may also be local collective agreements that regulate things like wellness allowances, doctoral candidate salaries or working hours.

If you are planning to start working in a workplace without a collective agreement, then all your terms of employment must be regulated in writing in your employment contract. Get help from SULF to check the contents of your contract by contacting the SULF Membership Helpline.

The question of employment contracts is regulated in the Employment Protection Act (LAS). An employment contract is valid regardless of form, so an oral contract is also binding. However, according to LAS, Section 6c, the employer must submit written information on any conditions that are material to the employment contract or employment relationship to the employee no more than one month after the employee has commenced work. (if the employment is for longer than three weeks). You must also find out which collective agreement applies at the workplace, as this regulates certain employment conditions such as on any conditions
that are material to the employment contract or employment relationship number of your paid holiday days.

More information

Things to consider when changing job
Employment conditions

When you are offered a position, you are entitled to negotiate your salary. You do this with your salary-setting manager. Prior to this negotiation, prepare yourself by thinking about the salary you will request, the lowest salary you are willing to accept and how to justify your salary request. According to the central salary agreement within the state, (RALS-T), salaries are to be individual and differentiated based on the level of difficulty of the tasks, your skills and expected results/performance and the responsibilities you have in your new job.

In order to obtain information about the salary situation at your university and to receive support in your salary negotiation process, contact your local Saco-S representative. They have an overview of local salary and benefit levels and can help you with things like local salary policies and statistics. Salary statistics for the entire country can be found on Saco Lönesök and in SULF’s salary statistics, which are available to SULF members. Before accepting your new salary, also find out when the next salary review will take place and if you will be included in it.

Information about salary level setting.

It depends on what kind of time-limited employment contract you have, i.e. what it says in your employment contract on the line under “Reasons for time limit” or similar. This determines your rights regarding extension of your employment period. The vast majority of time-limited employment contracts among our members are based on one of the following three regulations:

  1. The Higher Education Ordinance, HF
  2. The Postdoctoral Agreement, (a collective agreement on employment as a postdoc)
  3. The Employment Protection Act, LAS

Example 1: According to HF, a doctoral candidate’s employment is always extended on the basis of parental leave. Assistant professor or equivalent positions may also be extended for a maximum of two years.

Example 2: If you are employed according to the postdoctoral agreement
between Saco-S and the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, (Arbetsgivarverket), you are entitled to an extension for the period of your parental leave.

Example 3: Employment according to LAS does not give the right to extension for parental leave, illness or other circumstances. In these cases, It is therefore up to the employer to extend contracts based on needs and finances.

According to the Parental Leave Act 1995:584, an employer has no right to ask about pregnancy nor planned parental leave. For example, Section 16 of the Act states that it is prohibited to disadvantage an applicant because of pregnancy or parental leave. This means that you do not need to raise this with the employer during a job interview. However, there is an obligation to inform employers at least two months before planned parental leave, as well as to indicate how long you plan to be on leave (Section13).

Up until 2020, the employer must notify employees of the termination of their employment at least one month before their 67th birthday. However, you may continue working if you agree this with your employer. After your 67th birthday, one month’s notice period applies. From 2020, the LAS age, (i.e. the right to retain employment), will be increased to 68, and in 2023 it will be increased to 69.

Termination of employment

More information termination of employment

According to LAS, (the Employment Protection Act), if the employee is terminating the employment, one month’s notice period applies if the employment has lasted a maximum of one year. If you have been employed for more than a year, you have a two-month notice period. If you have had other government employment directly before your current position, then the employment
period includes this period too. If the employer agrees, it is possible to have a shorter notice period.

Read more here.

Here is information about the steps you should take when you become unemployed and the benefits you can receive, such as the SULF income insurance. The most important thing is that you register as a jobseeker with Arbetsförmedlingen, (the Swedish Public Employment Service), on your first unemployed working day.

Unemployment insurance is the basis for your income insurance. If you are not a member of the Akademikernas a-kassa insurance fund, the income insurance is not valid at all. You pay the unemployment insurance fee directly to Akademikernas a-kassa. If you would like to check how long you have been a member, log in to Mina sidor.

If you are not yet a member of the unemployment insurance fund, join Akademikernas a-kassa now.

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