Sickness

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.

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.

Questions and answers

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).

(25/3)

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)

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.
(27/3)

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 (link), 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.

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. (This information was updated on 24 March 2020.)

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.

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)

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