Sweden: New proposal on work environment responsibility for companies that engage, inter alia, self-employed workers, platform workers, subcontractors and freelancers.
Since the introduction of the Work Environment Act in the late 1970’s, and especially during the last ten years, the Swedish labour market has undergone major changes. Today, between 100 000 and 130 000 people in Sweden perform work in businesses where it is unclear if there is an actor with a responsibility for the work environment.
In June 2021, the Swedish government appointed a special investigator to review parts of the Work Environment Act due to the growing gig and platform economy. In August 2022, the special investigator handed over a report to the Swedish government in which new legislation is proposed.
The report proposes that when companies engage, inter alia, self-employed workers, platform workers, subcontractors and freelancers, the companies shall in certain cases be imposed with a responsibility for the work environment. The proposed responsibility shall apply when a company controls the performance of the work to the extent that the company has the main influence over the work environment. Under such circumstances, the company shall carry a responsibility for the work environment similar to the responsibility that an employer carries. This responsibility includes the obligation to perform systematic work environment management. The proposed responsibility is intended to function in the same way as for companies that hire temporary agency workers. In addition, the report proposes an extended possibility for the Swedish Work Environment Authority to issue regulations on sanction fees, as well as a clarification in the Work Environment Act to increase the use of occupational health care in the preventive work environment management.
On 9 September 2022, the Swedish Government submitted the report to the relevant authorities and organisations for their consultation.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Due to proposed changes to the Work Environment Act, a company that engages, inter alia, self-employed workers, platform workers, subcontractors and freelancers may be imposed with a responsibility for the work environment, provided that the company controls the performance of the work to the extent that the company has the main influence over the work environment.