Working in Sweden

Wages, working hours and annual leave

Working in Sweden

Sweden has very good working conditions and social conflicts are rare. Unlike many other European countries, Sweden does not have a legal minimum wage. Salaries are negotiated by collective bargaining between Trade Unions and Employers.

There are about 60 trade unions and 50 employers’ organizations, for about 600 collective agreements. Before the 90s most collective agreements were made at a centralized level for the different sectors between the main trade unions and employers organizations. Since then, the process has tended to decentralize, especially for white collar workers. Most agreements are now made at company level. The National Mediation Office is responsible for mediating between the different parties in cases of disagreement. It also publishes centralized information on wage increases and on the general trends in the work market. The gender gap for wages has decreased in Sweden, and is very low in white collar jobs.

Most collective agreements include a minimum wage, which is relatively high compared to the rest of Europe. 90% of workers in Sweden have a minimum wage in their collective agreement, which tends to be at least 60 to 70% of the average wage. Most employees belong to a trade union. When accepting a job, find out about your trade union and how the collective agreements are regulated in your company. It can be a good idea to join a trade union, which can help you fix your wage. As the system is highly decentralized, the best thing is to consult your union locally.

Working hours are also fixed by collective agreement, although the working week was limited by the Swedish Parliament to 40 hours. The law also guarantees 25 days of paid holiday per year plus 16 days of public holidays and 6 de facto holidays (usually an afternoon off). Additional holidays are agreed with your employer.

Overtime (överstidsilläg) is also regulated by collective agreement. It is usually paid at a rate of 50-100% more than the normal wage, but can also be exchanged for free time or additional holidays. It often depends on the time and day of the overtime (for example public holidays).

Further reading

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