May 27, 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.
Information from Swedish 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.
Workplace safety and health
Sunt arbetsliv has compiled tools for risk assessment, anxiety and new work methods. .
Questions and answers
Due to the impact of the coronavirus (covid-19), the SULF Central Office has investigated different ways to conduct our centrally arranged training courses and conferences. This has resulted in different solutions for different events and activities.
- The planned conference on teachers’ working hours has been rescheduled for autumn 2020, and the date will be announced shortly.
- The Step 2 course originally scheduled for May 13 has been cancelled. The next scheduled Step 2 course will be held on November 18, but SULF is looking at needs and possibilities for additional dates.
- The Salaries course scheduled for May 14 will now be run digitally on Zoom.
Regarding local activities, the local SULF association at the each higher education institution will decide whether the activity is to 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).
On March 11, the government and its collaboration partners announced that the compensation-free sick leave period waiting allowance will be waived 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.
The government has now announced how this will work in practice. As previously, 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). However, from April 7 you can apply for reimbursement from the Social Insurance Board (Försäkringskassan), and the application can be made retroactively from the March 11. You do not need to have notified them at the time you were ill.
The compensation will be a fixed standard amount of SEK 700, regardless of the actual size of the qualifying period deduction made by the employer. Unfortunately, this means that most SULF members will not receive full compensation for the salary deduction, as the amount only covers in full deductions made on salaries up to just over SEK 19,000 per month. On 1 June, the fixed standard amount will be increased to SEK 804, which will cover the qualifying period deduction for a salary of up to SEK 21 850 per month.
The extra 10 per cent (plus just under 90 per cent of salary that exceeds the maximum salary level that the Social Insurance Board covers) 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 payable. Before that, the level of 80 per cent of the salary (sick pay) applies.
From March 27, you do not need to submit a medical certificate for the first 21 days that you are absent from work due to illness. This applies to all cases handled from March 27. The Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) will not require you to provide a medical certificate for the first 21 days if you not have included one with your application.
If you are still ill after 21 days, you must submit a medical certificate when you apply for continued sickness benefit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The new temporary rules mean that the criteria for eligibility to receive unemployment benefit have been relaxed and that the level of compensation has been increased. In addition, the six-day compensation-free qualifying period has been removed. The basic compensation level for people who do not fulfil the requirements for income-related benefit has also been raised to SEK 510 per day before tax. In order to qualify for the full basic compensation level, you must have worked full time for at least one year.
In order to receive the higher level of compensation, income-related benefit, you now need to have been a member of an unemployment insurance fund (a-kassa) for at least three months, (previously twelve months), before you become unemployed. This is known as the membership condition. You must also have worked for at least 60 hours per month, (previously 80 hours), for at least six months. This is known as the employment condition. The highest level of income-related benefit has been raised to correspond to 80 per cent of the previous income up to a ceiling of SEK 33,000 per month for 100 days. The previous ceiling was SEK 25,025 per month. On 29 June, the highest level of compensation applicable from day 101 will be increased from 80 per cent of SEK 20 900 per month to 80% of SEK 27 500 per month.
When do the changes come into effect?
The changes come into effect at slightly different times and the full details are still not yet clear, but it has been confirmed that the new membership condition is applicable from March 1. This means that the earliest qualification date if you joined an unemployment insurance fund in March 2020 under the new membership condition is 1 June. The new, higher level of compensation for days 1-100 of unemployment is applicable from 13 April, and the suspension of the compensation free qualifying period applies from 30 March. The increased compensation level from day 101 of unemployment applies from 29 June. The government has announced that the changes will be applicable until 3 January 2021.
Membership of an unemployment insurance fund (a-kassa)
SULF recommends that you join the AEA unemployment insurance fund (link) as soon as possible if you are not already a member, and that you contact them if you have further questions about your unemployment insurance.
The SULF income insurance
As a member, you are also covered by SULF’s income insurance. To be eligible to receive compensation from the income insurance, you must have been a member of SULF for at least 12 months when you become unemployed, be entitled to income-related benefit from the unemployment insurance fund and have had a salary that exceeds the ceiling, which from April 13 is SEK 33,000 per month for 100 days. From day 101 you can receive compensation from the SULF income insurance if you have had an income of SEK 20,900 per month (from 29 June, you can receive compensation if your salary exceeds SEK 27 500 per month). Our insurance provides compensation for the first 150 days and gives you a total of around 80 per cent of your previous income, including the amount you receive from the unemployment insurance fund. The 150 day period begins on the first day of your unemployment . If your salary does not exceed SEK 33,000 per month but is over SEK 20,900 per month (SEK 27 500 from 29 June), you can receive compensation from the SULF income insurance for 50 days. Also, see below for information on how to receive compensation from the Job Security Foundation, Trygghetsstiftelsen, if you are eligible.
Supplementary income insurance cover
You can take out a supplementary insurance that covers an additional 150 days here. The supplementary insurance must be taken out no later than 12 months before the first day you become unemployed.
What do you do if you are also entitled to financial support from the Job Security Foundation (Trygghetsstiftelsen)?
If you are entitled to additional support from the Job Security Foundation, you must make an application to the Foundation through our transition agreement. The same applies if you have not worked in the state sector and are covered by another transition agreement, but in that case you apply to another job transition organisation.
If you are only entitled to 44 compensation days from the Foundation, (which applies if you have been employed on a fixed-term contract by the same employer for at least three consecutive years), you should start by applying for compensation at the Foundation. They will reimburse you for the first 44 days if you have had a salary above the maximum amount compensated for by the unemployment insurance fund, and you can then apply for compensation from the SULF income insurance. You can then receive compensation for up to 150 more days, making a total of up to 194 days. If you have taken out the supplementary insurance in time, you can receive compensation for up to a further 150 days through that.
Yes. Due to the seriousness of the current situation, Saco-S and the the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, Arbetsgivarverket, have reached a temporary agreement which allows an increased overtime allowance of 40 hours per month during the period April to June 2020.
See also the question on what rules apply if a teacher with an annual working hours contract is required to do more work.
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.
SULF has seen indications that some higher education institutions are now asking teachers to prepare for both campus and distance education this autumn. If you receive such a request, the guidelines above are generally valid, meaning that you must ensure that the extra work this involves is documented and included in your work task plan. Your employer may then either remove other duties during the year so that all work is accommodated within your annual working hours or otherwise ensure that you receive compensation for the overtime or extra work that is required. When reallocating work, the stipulations of local collective agreements are also to apply, so any minimum time allowed for research or skills development is to be maintained.
You can start by asking your employer if you can take leave of absence to work within the health service. If your employer agrees, you can take a job there and you will then be covered by the employment conditions governed by the collective agreements that apply there. With regard to earned pension rights, you will be covered by the agreement that applies in that sector, and we recommend that you join the defined contribution scheme AKAP-KL. Our assessment is that this would normally be the most advantageous solution for you, but if you have previously worked within the health care region and were born before 1986, it may be worth investigating whether it is better for you to join the defined benefit scheme KAP-KL. Contact us for more information about this.
If you are an associate professor/senior lecturer or professor with joint employment, you can increase your employment within the health care region within the scope of your existing employment. If this is the case, you should not take leave of absence and you will continue to be covered by the state pension agreement. Any extra remuneration that may be paid during the time you work in healthcare, (such as overtime or on-call and emergency response allowance), is not normally included in the basis for occupational pension, but The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions has recommended that such remuneration should be included in the basis for municipal occupational pension in the current situation. If this is not possible, there is also scope to enter into a local collective agreement on extra provisions for the state occupational pension. Contact the Saco-S Association at your higher education institution for more information on the rules and agreements that apply in your case.
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.
SULF is of the opinion that higher education institutions should primarily investigate the possibility of conducting thesis defences on schedule using digital solutions. UKÄ, the Swedish Higher Education Authority, has also recently announced that it sees no legal barriers to remote thesis defences (in Swedish), but that institutions may need to be take some measures to fulfil the requirement that doctoral thesis defences are to be public.
If it is not possible to conduct the public defence of your doctoral thesis digitally, it is our view that you are to continue to be employed until your doctorate has been completed. This is a situation that is beyond your control and, in SULF’s opinion, the circumstances are such that there are valid reasons to extend your employment beyond your four years of full-time studies. Arbetsgivarverket, The Swedish Agency for Government Employers, has also stated that it regards the Corona situation as grounds for an extension if you have been prevented from carrying out your work as a result.
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.
Parental leave to care for a sick child, as well as any other forms of parental leave, gives you the right to extend your doctoral employment if this is necessary in order to complete your doctoral studies. If the employer chooses to adopt another solution, this may constitute a violation of the prohibition against discrimination provisions in the Parental Leave Act, since you will not enjoy the same conditions as a doctoral candidate who has not taken parental leave. We recommend that you raise this issue with your supervisor and head of department/manager and ensure that it is documented in your study plan.
Employment as a doctoral candidate is to be for a period corresponding to four years of full-time studies. Your employment may therefore be extended in certain circumstances so that the total time is the equivalent of four years. Normally, it is not a problem to get an extension to make up for time off when you are absent for things like sick leave or parental leave, for time spent teaching or for participating in research that is not part of your thesis work. However, it is always important that any such time is documented, preferably in your individual study plan.
During the coronavirus epidemic, questions have been raised about what rules apply regarding the extension of employment. SULF’s view is that it is permissible under the regulations to extend the employment if the doctoral candidate’s studies and research are delayed for reasons other than those stated above. It can also be permissible in circumstances not related to the coronavirus situation, such as the need to change supervisor.
It is important that you maintain regular contact with your supervisors about how your situation is affected and how much and why your doctoral studies have been delayed. There may be many reasons for a delay, depending on what you are working on, so it is difficult to list all examples, but some typical reasons may be cancelled courses, cancelled travel, lack of access to infrastructure or anything else needed to carry out the project. It may also be the case that you need particular support that can no longer be provided. If you are required to teach more students, that time should as usual be outside the doctoral studies. Make sure that everything relevant is documented.
How your doctoral studies are financed should not affect the possibility of extension. Everyone is to be treated equally based on their circumstances and the reasons that exist for an extension. If external funding is insufficient or cannot be redeployed over time, the institution is to take responsibility for it. In practice, there is no denying that it may be a question of whether there is money available to extend the employment. Here, too, there must be equal treatment so that those who have valid reasons can be granted an extension, regardless of whether they happen to be in a wealthy or less wealthy environment. SULF has also pushed for higher education institutions to be given greater resources by the government to resolve this situation.
The question of a general extension for all doctoral candidates has also come up in some places. This could be something that can be brought up at all higher education institutions or departments within higher education institutions. One reason to support this approach could be that everyone has been negatively affected by the current situation in some way and that it would be reasonable, and even easier from a purely administrative perspective, to give all doctoral candidates a short extension. However, it is important that there would then always be an opportunity to give further extensions on an individual basis so that it is recognised that such a standard solution would not cover all eventualities.
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.
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.
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.
As a general rule, the entire year’s annual holiday leave should be allocated to the year in which it was earned, which is usually the same as the calendar year. The main holiday period should normally be arranged so that you can take continuous holiday leave of at least four weeks during the period of June to August. You can agree with your employer to divide your holiday so that you do not have holiday leave for a continuous four-week period, but the employer cannot force you to divide the holiday so that you have less than four weeks continuous holiday leave during June-August if this is not permitted specifically in a local collective agreement. However, if there are special circumstances, the employer may place your continuous vacation outside the period of June to August.
If the employer does not consider it possible to grant the whole of your annual holiday leave during the year it is earned, for example because you have to spend more time preparing digital teaching for the autumn term, the unused days will be converted into saved holiday days at the end of the year if they do not exceed the total number of days that may be saved, (no more than 30 days according to the state sector collective agreement). If they cannot be saved, the value of them must be paid to you after 31 December. Should your employment end before the end of the year, the holiday days that could not be paid are to be compensated for by approximately 5 per cent of your monthly salary per holiday day. You can find out more by reading our FAQ regarding working time here, especially now that many teachers are being assigned to prepare both campus and digital education.
Before deciding on the timing of this year’s holiday leave, you can ask to save holiday days. You have the right to save all annual holiday leave days except 20 per year as long as you do not exceed the total number that may be saved. Another option is to agree with your employer that you convert a number of annual holiday leave days that cannot be taken this year into salary or an additional pension provision.
Saved holiday days from previous years can only be taken if you and your employer agree. The main rule here is that the employee chooses which year the saved holiday days are taken. The collective agreement provides for an exception to the rule saying that saved holiday must be taken within five years, which means that you can save your holiday days for longer. If the saved annual holiday leave days have not been taken when your employment ends, they are to be compensated for financially. This applies even if you have fixed-term employment that is about to expire.
If the employer has already made a decision about when you can take your holiday leave, you cannot demand that it be changed. That requires an agreement between you and your employer. As a rule, the employer cannot change the timing of holiday leave when it has been granted either, since such a decision is binding. Should the employer wish to change the decision, you should contact your local association if you do not wish to agree to the change.
Please note that there may be local agreements, not least for teachers, researchers and doctoral candidates, regarding how annual holiday leave should be allocated, for example, “standard holiday weeks”. If so, that agreement is to be followed. There are also special rules on how holiday can be taken during a notice period and what happens if you are ill during your holiday. Contact your local association if you would like to know more about these matters.
Finally, as a general rule, the employer must notify you two months in advance regarding when you can take your annual holiday leave. This also applies if you have fixed-term employment that is about to expire.