The Labour Market in Sweden

The Swedish labour market has long been recognized for long-term job security, generous employment benefits and combining business innovation. Together with one of the highest living standards in the world, Sweden now sets a new principle for labour migration regulations, making it easier than ever for non-EU citizens to work and live in Sweden.

The rate of labour force participation is high in Sweden in contrast to other European countries, particularly among women. It is distinguished that over seventy five percentages of workers in Sweden are members of a trade union.

In Sweden, collective agreements conventionally play an important role in adjusting relations between employers and employees. Collective agreements can deal with any aspect of the employment relationship, such as working conditions, wages, and the conditions of employment. According to the Annual Leave Act, all employees are given a right of a minimum of twenty five working days of annual vacation. Under the Working Hours Act, normal working hours are limited to a maximum of forty hours per week.

Concerning the work climate, it’s usually informal and open. They call the boss by her or his first name, inspire teamwork, have flexible work hours, and endeavor for gender equality. A long tradition of active labour market policies and influential unions has made outcome in a strong protection of workers’ rights and many benefits for Swedish employees.

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5 thoughts on “The Labour Market in Sweden

  1. From my point of view is the Swedish labour market quite interesting, as the Swedish management style is often described as informal, open and caring and furthermore it is not considered as hierarchical. The managers try to include everyone in the decision-making process by encouraging initiatives of the workers. This kind of management style is so different from the German one, where hierarchy plays in most of the companies an important role. Therefore the Swedish company IKEA had some problems by expanding in other countries, because people were not used to this different work climate.

    In your article you mentioned the long-term job security and the generous employment benefits which is combined with business innovation, so I am asking myself, if this was still possible during the crisis or if they had to make some changes? And how was the Swedish labour market affected by the crisis ? Did the unemployment rate increased significantly or could the Swedish government soften the impact with the help of their long tradition of active labour market policy?

  2. The part in of the blog were you talk about the collective agreements in Sweden is interesting. It is trough that this plays an important role in the labour market and has been so for a very long time. Especially in industry sector and that kind of work were the working environment and working hours often can be discussed. But I can see a change in this collective way of thinking in Sweden. A lot of young people chose to not be a part of this because that think that they don’t need it, the labour market is becoming more and more individualized in my opinion.

  3. I think the Swedish way of working is very nice and productive. I know that Swedes in general are very polite, friendly and follow rules. For them it is important to create a nice working atmosphere. I know from my experience that Swedes are sometimes shy and they do not feel confortable if they are standing alone. If you participate a meeting in a Swedish company it is difficult to say who is the boss and who are the coworkers. For Swedes harmony, secureness and freedome are very important. I think this is reflected in the laws for employees and the way they are working.
    It is mentioned that the employees call the employers by their first name. In Sweden it is normal to call everyone by the first name. Even in school or university the teachers and professors are called by their first name.

  4. I agree with you that the labour market in Sweden is interesting. The work norms and culture at the job is really different from many other countries. For instance only using the first name of your boss is very different for many. The bosses seem friendlier, but can still be authoritarian if it’s necessary (that is at least my experience from Norway). The lines/connections between the boss and the “normal” workers are not as formal, and the employees in Sweden are threaten with the same respect. The bosses listen more to their employees and it is easier to get a personal bond with your boss. I like this kind of relationship more, but however it is necessary to not let friendship stand in the way for making a good job. It is a fine line between being too friendly and too authorian. I have also had bosses that are thinking more about being friendly, than actual work and neither of the options is to be preferred.


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