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Postdoctor agreement

The new postdoctoral fellow agreement is applicable from 1 February 2022 and replaces the previous agreement from 2008. In order to simplify the agreement and make its content clearer, provisions from previous agreements and negotiation minutes have been brought together. A number of important elements have also been retained, for example the right to be granted an extension due to parental leave.

For a transitional provision, people who are already employed will have the same rights as those employed on or after 1 February 2022.

Changes to the agreement

  • The new agreement permits fixed-term employment for a minimum of two years and a maximum of three years, compared with the maximum of two years which applied previously.
  • In the new agreement, employment as a postdoctoral fellow can also be applied for by a person who will not have completed their doctorate by the end of the application period. However, the doctorate must be completed no later than the date of the decision to employ.
  • If the postdoctoral fellow is posted to work abroad during the employment period, the employee concerned will automatically be granted leave from employment as a postdoctoral fellow and resume the employment upon returning to Sweden. This simplifies the situation, not least for employees who receive funding for international postdocs, for example, from the Swedish Research Council.
  • The grounds for extension of employment as a postdoctoral fellow, (in addition to the maximum period of three years), have been broadened and now also include posting in the armed forces and, for certain subject areas, relevant postings/assignments. Previously, this provision only applied to clinical work.
  • Corresponding grounds may also permit an exception to the provision that positions are granted primarily to candidates who have completed a doctorate within the three years prior to the end of the application period.
  • According to a transitional provision, a postdoctoral fellow employed under the agreement that applied until 31 January 2022, and whose employment period runs beyond 1 October 2022, may continue to be employed as a postdoctoral fellow under the new agreement, though for no longer than a total of three years. During such an extension, the new agreement applies in its entirety.
  • In other respects, the content of the agreement has been clarified with regard to the purpose of the agreement, (career development qualifications following a doctoral qualification in order to secure a future supply of skills). Provisions in the previous agreement and negotiation minutes have been gathered together to create a whole and provide greater clarity.

The following is unchanged from the previous agreement

  • The agreement applies to higher education institutions* within the state sector as well as to other employers who conduct research and who are members of Arbetsgivarverket, the Swedish Agency for Government Employers.
  • The absolute main rule is that employment is to be full time.
  • Work is to consist of at least 80 per cent research.
  • An employee who has been on parental leave during the employment period is entitled to an extension of employment corresponding to at least the duration of the leave.
  • The employment can also be extended if there are specific circumstances, i.e. sick leave, parental leave, a period as a trade union representative, posting in the armed forces or similar, as well as for clinical postings or postings/assignments relevant to the subject area **.
  • In the first instance, positions are to be granted to people who have completed a doctoral degree in the past three years. Exceptions can be made in special circumstances, i.e. those stated above with regard to extension of employment.

* Including Chalmers and Jönköping University, which are not state agencies. However, Chalmers has a local collective agreement with certain deviating provisions for doctoral employment.

** These reasons have been expanded somewhat compared with previous agreements.

The new agreement applies to employment contracts signed on or after 1 February 2022. If an agreement on employment as a postdoctoral fellow was reached before that date, the previous agreement applies until 31 January 2022. However, there is a transitional provision in the event that the employment extends beyond 1 October 2022, (see the question What does the transitional provision mean for a person who was already employed as a postdoctoral fellow before 1 February 2022 according to a previous agreement? below)

Under the agreement, employment as a postdoctoral fellow is to be for at least two years. If you are employed for less than three years, the agreement states that your employment can be extended up to a total of a maximum of three years if required to fulfil the purpose of the position. If there are special circumstances, (for example sick leave or parental leave), the employment period may be longer than three years according to the agreement.

In the new agreement, we have introduced a provision that automatically grants you leave of absence from employment under the agreement for the period that you are posted abroad. During the posting, you agree a URA contract with your employer. This regulates your terms of employment during the time you are employed and is the result of the URA collective agreement, (Agreement on Overseas Contracts and Guidelines on Employment Conditions in Service Abroad)*. Contact SULF for more information about this agreement. When the posting period expires, you will return to your employment as a postdoctoral fellow in Sweden. Please note that a posting abroad does not result in a longer total employment period than three years. It means that the maximum period of employment under the agreement is three years, including the time you are on leave for an overseas posting, (unless there are special circumstances for extension, for example sick leave or parental leave).

* The URA agreement only applies to state agencies, which includes the vast majority of higher education institutions. If you are posted abroad by an employer that is not a state agency, another type of agreement for your employment conditions during your posting abroad must be signed.

Such employment is regulated by the agreement that is applicable until 31 January 2022 for the entire period of employment. However, there is a transitional provision in the event that your employment continues beyond 1 October 2022. The transitional provision makes it possible to extend your employment up to a total of three years. During the time you have such an extension, the new agreement applies in its entirety. This means, for example, that the new provisions on postings abroad and extensions due to special circumstances apply.

More information

You can download the entire agreement from the Swedish Agency for Government Employers website (in Swedish).