Sweden: Police Get New Workplace Inspection Powers

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By Marcus Hoy

Sweden's police force will be granted new powers to raid workplaces as part of a drive to clamp down on illegal foreign workers. In an April 27 statement, the Justice Ministry said that the proposed amendment to the Aliens Act (2005:716) is needed to address issues caused by a spike in the number of asylum seekers, of whom many will see their applications rejected. The new powers will have no expiration date. The proposal will be open for comment until July 28 and is due to become law on March 1, 2018.

The amendment will also increase economic sanctions against employers under the Aliens Act from 22,400 kroner ($2,500) to 44,800 kroner per illegal employee. If the violation has lasted more than three months, sanctions of up to 89,600 kroner ($10,000) may apply for each employee, and aggravating circumstances can result in jail sentences of up to one year. Subcontractors can also be held liable.

The raids will be conducted in accordance with the European Union's Employers Sanctions Directive (2009/52), which obliges member nations to ensure that effective inspections are carried out to control illegal employment of foreign nationals.

Risk Assessments

“Under the current rules, police can carry out inspections at workplaces only in cases where the authority has received tips or information that provide sufficient grounds for performing an immigration check in accordance with the Aliens Act,” a Justice and Migration Ministry official told Bloomberg BNA May 4. “However, the police have no authority to carry out random workplace inspections related to illegal workers and the Swedish Migration Board does not carry out workplace inspections.”

“The proposal implies that the police may carry out random workplace inspections to check that companies are not employing foreigners who are unauthorized to stay and work in Sweden,” the official said. “Such inspections will only be carried out in sectors of activity identified as high-risk sectors where employment of illegal third-country nationals is common.”

In a May 4 statement provided to Bloomberg BNA, Bjorn Rustare, employment counsel at law firm Roschier, said that service sector employers such as restaurants and other smaller workplaces would likely be the main targets of the raids. As trade union representatives are usually present at larger production and construction facilities, incidences of illegal employment there are rare.

“The police will only be able to carry out inspections in identified risk sectors,” Rustare said. Historically, these have been hotels and restaurants and other service-sector businesses.”

“We have not yet received any thoughts from our clients in this regard,” Rustare said. “However, there is of course a risk that serious and well-behaving employers may be exposed to inspections without prior notice by the police in addition to the Tax Agency and the Work Environment Agency, which are currently entitled to carry out random inspections.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Hoy in Copenhagen at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

The Aliens Act amendment is available in Swedish here.

For more information on Swedish HR law and regulation, see the Sweden primer.

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