Swedish labour market model and collective agreements
The labour market is regulated by a combination of law, which provide the minimum level for the working conditions, and collective agreements that supplement with more and better conditions.
Collective agreements have many advantages compared with legislation. They are adapted to the needs and wishes of different sectors and different workplaces. They provide stability, while also being easier to change and update than laws. The content of a collective agreement is based on matters that the employees and employers decide together and can take responsibility for. This also means that discussions about employment conditions take place close to those who are affected and with the influence of the employees. Conditions vary from sector to sector and from workplace to workplace, for example when it comes to salaries and benefits, working hours and competence development.
University and higher education labour market
The working conditions and terms of employment at Swedish universities are regulated by law, ordinance and collective agreements. Högskoleförordningen, (The Swedish Higher Education Ordinance), is one important ordinance governing Swedish universities. However, work conditions are also regulated by collective agreements, at national and local levels.
Learn more about your local agreement to find out what regulations/terms and conditions apply in your case (in Swedish).
Trade unions in Sweden and the right of Association
In Sweden, approximately 70 per cent of all Swedish employees are members of a union, and these numbers are even higher for state employees. Unions are free organizations and open to all, regardless of nationality or type of employment. The constitution of Sweden ensures you the right of association in other words, the right to freely join any trade union of your choice. An employer cannot force or forbid you to join a trade union. It is a violation against the freedom of association if anyone, in any way, tries to prevent or force you to join a trade union.
SULF membership together with a membership of an unemployment insurance fund, (for example Akademikernas a-kassa), means you are well insured in case of unemployment. Your SULF’s income insurance is included in your membership fee.
Please note that you have to have been a member of both SULF and the unemployment insurance fund for at least 12 months before becoming unemployed in order to be eligible for the income insurance. The unemployment benefit plus the income insurance gives you up to 80 per cent of your previous income if you become unemployed. Find out more about SULF here.
Who does what on the labour market
- Akademikernas a-kassa, unemployment insurance fund
- Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen)
- The Swedish Migration Agency, (Migrationsverket), makes decisions on residence permits.
- The Tax Agency, (Skatteverket), issues personal ID numbers and handles tax related matters.
- The Social Insurance Agency, (Försäkringskassan), is responsible for social welfare services (e.g. parental leave benefits, sickness benefits and child allowances).