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Unemployment insurance

Unemployment insurance - membership, disregarded periods and benefits

In order to qualify for income-related unemployment benefits, become a member of an unemployment insurance fund. Application for membership and payment is separate to your union membership fees. SULF recommends that you become a member of Akademikernas a-kassa.

Requirements for membership

To be eligible to join the Akademikernas a-kassa unemployment insurance fund, you must fulfil both the academic qualifications requirement and the work requirement.

You can meet the academic qualifications requirement either by having gained 180 higher education credits or the equivalent level through education outside Sweden; by currently being in education with the intention of acquiring 180 credits; or by working in a profession that is affiliated to one of the member unions of the Saco confederation or the Swedish Association of Health Professionals.

You meet the work requirement by working or having worked in Sweden. You can also become a member of the fund if your most recent employment was in another country within the EU/EEA or in Switzerland.

It is always important to apply for membership of Akademikernas a-kassa as soon as possible after moving to Sweden. It is then possible to add time as a member of the Swedish unemployment insurance fund to any time that you have been a member of, or covered by, the unemployment insurance in the other country. In some cases, you can also receive compensation by counting time spent working in the other country. Contact Akademikernas a-kassa for more information about the rules that apply.

Work refers only to employment. Time funded by a scholarship is not considered work by the unemployment insurance fund.

Registration at the Employment Service

If you become unemployed, it is important that you register as a jobseeker with the Employment Service no later than your first day without a job. Registration at the Employment Service is a prerequisite for being considered as unemployed by Akademikernas a-kassa and the Employment Service can also help you to apply for unemployment benefits. You may register at any Employment Service office you choose.

Be available to work

In order to be entitled to unemployment benefit, you must be available to work. This means that you may not be enrolled in any educational programme and childcare must be arranged. If you combine doctoral studies with your own business, special rules may apply. Contact Akademikernas a-kassa for more information.

Residence and work permits

If you are not a Swedish citizen, you must also have a residence permit and a general work permit in Sweden to be able to receive unemployment benefits. The work permit may not apply to one particular university or college only.

If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you and your immediate family are exempt from the work permit requirement in Sweden. You have the right to unemployment benefit if the other conditions are met. Read more on the Swedish Migration Agency website.

Benefits from Akademikernas a-kassa

Akademikernas a-kassa benefits are income related for everyone who has been a member of Akademikernas a-kassa for 12 months and fulfils the employment condition. This means that you will receive a payment equal to 80 percent of your previous average income with a benefits ceiling of SEK 910 per day for the first 100 days and then SEK 760 per day for the remaining days.

If you have not yet been a member for twelve months, income-related benefits are not paid. Instead a basic amount per day of not more than SEK 365 may be paid.

The employment requirement means that you must have worked for six months or more, for at least 80 hours per month, over the twelve months previous to the date you registered as unemployed at the Employment Service office. If you do not meet the employment condition,  Akademikernas a-kassa examines whether you meet the alternative employment requirement. This requires that you have worked at least 480 hours over a continuous period of six months. Each month of service must include at least 50 hours worked.

In order to calculate income-related benefits, Akademikernas a-kassa examines your normal working hours and normal income during the relevant time frame.

The time frame is twelve full retroactive months and starts when you register at the Employment Service. If you, over the course of the past year, have been totally or partially prevented from working, the months you have been prevented from working are disregarded and the same number of months added to the timeframe back in time. Likewise, if you can be considered to have engaged in full-time studies, for example with scholarship funding, this period is disregarded. A month may be disregarded or not depending on the reason you were not able to work. No more than a total of five years may be disregarded when this time frame is determined.

Normal working hours are counted for the work you performed during the entire time frame. For example if you, during the last twelve month period, worked alternately full-time and part-time, this will affect your normal working hours and thus your benefits.

Average income forms the basis of your benefit level and depends on your income from work. For example, during the summer if you were on leave for other work and received a considerably higher salary than your normal doctoral candidate salary, this generates a higher average income and affects your benefit level.

Average income is always calculated over twelve months, no matter how many months you worked. For example, if you have only six months of work during the time frame, your income for those six months will be spread out over the twelve months.

Disregarded time

If, during a framework period, you were for example engaged in full-time studies, were on maternity or sick leave, this time is disregarded in the time frame. Doctoral studies are considered studies but only if full-time. You must have remained a member of the Akademikernas a-kassa during these disregarded periods.

Example 1

You approach the end of your doctoral studies after two years of full-time employment as a doctoral candidate and your doctoral position runs out before you have finished your thesis. You receive a scholarship for a shorter period so you are able to complete your thesis and obtain a doctorate.

Assuming that you have been registered for the PhD programme full-time, Akademikernas a-kassa disregards the period you were on a scholarship and your time frame is extended backwards for the corresponding period into the past. In such a case, your doctoral candidate position forms the basis for your right to benefits.

Parental leave and disregarded periods

If you are on parental leave most of a month, for example, full-time or 75 percent, this period will be disregarded.

However if you work part-time combined with parental leave to such as extent that it becomes part of the employment requirement, these working hours will be included in the basis for calculation of normal working hours and thus also affect daily benefit amounts.

Parental benefit and also sickness benefit (benefits paid by the National Insurance Agency only) may also be included in the income used as a basis for calculation of unemployment benefits.

Benefit amounts

Unemployment benefit is paid in the form of daily allowances. Read more about benefits on the Akademikernas a-kassa website. Calculate your allowance (in Swedish).

Period of benefit

You receive 300 days. Anyone who has children under 18 receives benefits for another 150 days. The benefit level for these 150 days is 70 percent of salary. In cases of full unemployment, five daily allowances per week are paid. This means that the 300 days of benefit last for 60 weeks.

For half-time unemployment 2,5 daily allowances are paid per week (if you worked full time before unemployment). You can receive benefits for a maximum of 60 weeks within the same compensation period.

Unemployment insurance funds and university teachers

To clarify these issues and facilitate understanding, Akademikernas a-kassa has gathered information regarding college and university issues in one place:

Doctoral candidates and post doc (in Swedish)