Although many doctoral candidates who are approaching the end of their doctoral studies have trouble believing it, there will come a day when your doctorate has been completed and it is time for new challenges. For most people, this means a postdoctoral appointment at a foreign or Swedish higher education institution or research institute.
Postdoc employment in Sweden
To make it easier for PhDs to acquire further qualifications, SULF has signed a collective agreement on fixed-term employment for postdoctoral appointments. In this collective agreement, postdocs are defined as individuals employed primarily for research tasks and who have been awarded a doctorate or a foreign qualification equivalent to a doctorate. The doctorate is to have been awarded no more than three years before the expiry of the application period unless special circumstances apply. The latest agreement, which is applicable from 1 February 2022, allows doctoral candidates to apply for a postdoctoral position before their doctorate has been completed, but the doctorate must have been awarded when the decision to employ is made.
Additionally, your employment may be extended in certain circumstances, such as if you have taken sick leave or parental leave, clinical practice, posting within the armed forces, periods of work as an elected trade union representative or similar. In the case of parental leave, the agreement states that employment is to be extended by at least the equivalent of the period you were on parental leave. The work must consist mainly of research, where mainly is defined as at least 80 per cent.
Our collective agreement states that employment as a postdoc may not be combined with probationary employment and then become fixed-term employment as a postdoc. Probationary employment always automatically becomes permanent employment unless the employer or employee terminates the employment during the probationary period, which can last no more than six months.
Unfortunately, postdoctoral appointments abroad are usually funded by scholarships, which negatively impacts the right to insurance cover, parental leave and social insurance. However, some Swedish higher education institutions employ and send researchers abroad and some foreign higher education institutions do employ postdocs. You can find more information about overseas postings here.
If you have a postdoctoral appointment in Sweden in accordance with the postdoc collective agreement from 1 February 2022 or later, you are entitled to take leave of absence if you are posted abroad. Before any posting abroad, regardless of employment terms or scholarship, you should always contact the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), the Akademikernas a-kassa unemployment insurance fund and SULF.
Postdoc with scholarship
SULF believes that all postdocs should be employed, but unfortunately, this does not always happen. Instead, a scholarship is sometimes offered for the postdoctoral period in Sweden or abroad. Scholarships do not entitle you to financial compensation from the social security system or unemployment insurance, but if you have been employed previously, you may be able to receive compensation based on previous income. Similarly, scholarships do not qualify for pension, nor are you covered by insurances based on employment, (statutory or collectively agreed insurance). It is therefore extremely important that you review your insurance cover if you choose to receive a scholarship. You can read more about these insurances here.