Requirement for Foreign Employees to Work
Generally, citizens of countries outside the EU must have a work permit to work in Sweden. In order for a person to get such a permit the employer must have prepared an offer of employment and advertised the job in Sweden and the EU for 10 days (this applies to new recruitments). The person applying for a work permit must also be able to show a signed written employment agreement and the terms of employment must be equal to or better than those provided under a Swedish collective bargaining agreement or customary for the occupation or sector. The relevant trade union must be given the opportunity to express an opinion on the terms of the employment. The person applying for a work permit must also earn enough to fulfil the maintenance requirement, which means that the person’s salary must amount to at least 80 per cent of the median salary published by Statistics Sweden (SEK 27,360 per month as of 1 November 2023). However, the maintenance requirement does not apply for EU Blue Cards, ICT permits and certain exempted occupations.
EU and EEA citizens do not need a visa and they have the right to work in Sweden without work and residence permits. People who have a residence permit in an EU country, but are not EU citizens, can apply to obtain the status of long-term resident in that country. They thereby enjoy certain rights that are similar to those of EU citizens. Furthermore, the Posting of Workers Act applies to posted workers in Sweden.
Does a Foreign Employer need to Establish or Work through a Local Entity to Hire an Employee?
A foreign employer is not required to have a permanent establishment in Sweden to hire employees. However, if the employees are going to perform work in Sweden, the Foreign Employer is normally obligated to pay taxes in Sweden, as well as to register as an employer in Sweden. The employer will also need to pay social security contributions on the locally hired employee’s salary. It is possible to enter into an agreement with the locally hired employee wherein the employee will report and pay the social security contributions and in such cases, the employee, instead of the foreign employer, should register with the Swedish Tax Agency. However, if the employee is working as a dependent representative in Sweden, the foreign employer will typically be seen as having a permanent establishment in Sweden. In order to facilitate the payment of taxes, the foreign employer will, in practice, need to register a branch office or a company in Sweden.
Limitations on Background Checks
Employers have limited possibilities of obtaining information from registers containing information regarding applicants, such as medical or criminal records, and are limited by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as regards the processing of such personal data. An applicant can, on the other hand, voluntarily present medical or criminal information about himself or herself, if the employer should request it in connection with the recruitment. There is no obligation for the applicant to comply with such a request, but the non-compliance may result in the applicant not being offered the position in question. Applicants to positions such as teachers and day-care teachers, however, may be obliged to provide an excerpt from their criminal records before an employment agreement is entered into.
As regards credit checks, these are allowed and may be conducted by the employer, if the credit check is of relevance to the applied position, i.e. the position will involve economy related tasks such as accounting or handling payments as a cashier. Otherwise, consent should be provided by the applicant prior to a credit check.
Restrictions on Application/Interview Questions
Employers have a freedom to decide which questions need to be asked in order to determine if an applicant is suitable for a position. However, an employer may not ask questions that could constitute discrimination, such as if the applicant is expecting a child or if the applicant is a member of a trade union.
Furthermore, the employer may decide on tests and examinations that should be conducted as part of an application. Apart from the prohibition of discrimination and that an applicant may never be required to take a genetic test as a condition of employment, there are no other legal limitations to requiring an applicant to, e.g., undergo a medical examination or a drug or alcohol test.
An employer can refuse to hire an applicant who does not consent to a test. However, an employer must act in accordance with good labour market practice.