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Employment Law Overview Sweden


The labour market in Sweden is to a great extent self-regulated by employers’ organisations and trade unions. The Swedish labour law model is based on civil rules that govern most aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Mandatory laws and regulations in collective bargaining agreements provide a comprehensive framework for the terms and conditions of employment. Disputes are finally settled by the Swedish Labour Court, which is the final instance in employment related disputes. However, the majority of disputes are solved by the parties on the labour market through consultations and negotiations.

Key Points

  • An employment agreement does not have to take any specific form to be valid.
  • An employment may only be terminated for objective reasons, such as redundancy or personal reasons.
  • An employer has certain consultation and information obligations towards trade unions even if the employer is not bound by any collective bargaining agreement.
  • Generally, citizens of countries outside the EU must have a work permit to work in Sweden.

Swedish employment law is regulated by statutes and case law, as well as by collective bargaining agreements concluded with trade unions. Collective bargaining agreements are of great importance and they often contain regulations deviating from statutory provisions to better suit the type of business where they apply. Regulations regarding employment protection are found in the Employment Protection Act. Employees whose duties and conditions of employment are such that they may be deemed to occupy a managerial or comparable position are excluded from the Employment Protection Act.

The Co-Determination Act contains the general provisions governing the relationship between employers and trade unions in such areas as right to association, information, negotiations, industrial actions and labour market stability obligations. Other essential statutes are, for example, the Discrimination Act, the Annual Leave Act, the Personal Data Act, the Parental Leave Act, the Working Hours Act, the Work Environment Act and the Sick Pay Act.

New Developments

2022 saw extensive changes to the Employment Protection Act. As Sweden implemented the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions on 29 June 2022, employers will need to be aware of the changes concerning new information requirements to new employees and new rules entailing that employers may not prohibit employees from having parallel employments.

Apart from the changes that follows from the EU Directive, additional changes were made to the Employment Protection Act. For example, special fixed term employments are automatically converted to indefinite term employments after twelve months employment during a five year-period, all employers may exempt three employees from the order of priority in redundancy situations, and the regulations regarding disputes in case of termination of employment have changed. The latter change entails that an employee’s employment will expire following a termination regardless of whether an invalidity claim has been brought forward by the employee or not.

On 17 December 2021, a new Whistleblowing Act entered into force. The new act imposes, inter alia, obligations on businesses with 50 or more employees to implement internal procedures and routines for reporting irregularities in the business as well as for following-up on such reports. These internal procedures and routines must be documented and implemented by private employers with 50-249 employees no later than 17 December 2023.

As of 1 January 2023, employees are entitled to remain in employment until they are 69 years old. When an employee turns 69, the provisions in the Swedish Employment Protection Act (Sw. lag (1982:80) om anställningsskydd) regarding termination of employment are replaced with provisions that simplifies the termination process.

Any questions

Ask our member firm Cederquist in Sweden