Sweden: Unpaid Sick Day to Be Abolished

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By Marcus Hoy

Employees will be paid from their first day of sick leave under a planned legal amendment (DS:2017:18) announced by the Social Affairs Ministry May 11.

Under the existing structure, employers are required to pay sickness benefits for the first two weeks of an employee's absence minus the first day at a rate of 80 percent of the employee's salary. If the period of absence lasts longer than two weeks, sickness benefits are paid by the nation's Social Insurance Agency. The new system, scheduled to become effective Jan. 1, 2019, will require employers to reduce paid sickness benefits by 20 percent during the first week of an employee's absence and pay the employee for the first sick day. The details of the new system will need to be clarified through the negotiation of new collective bargaining agreements.

In a May 15 statement provided to Bloomberg BNA, Social Security Minister Annika Strandhall said that some companies may need to change their administrative practices to adapt to the new system, especially those whose employees work irregular hours.

“It might give both positive and negative consequences for employers,” Strandhall said. “However, we believe that these changes will be marginal, especially since it will be employers' organizations that will negotiate the new system with the trade unions.”

Added Work for Employers?

Bjorn Rustare, employment counsel at the Roschier law firm, agreed that the change could potentially entail an increased administrative burden for some companies.

“Employers would need to calculate the proposed deduction of 20 percent of the employees' average weekly remuneration,” Rustare told Bloomberg BNA May 14. “For companies with employees who work irregularly, this would entail additional administration. For larger companies, which use an automatic payroll management system, the proposed rule change will not imply any major changes. If companies have employees who work irregular but long days, the change could imply higher sick pay costs due to a reduction in employers' deductions.”

“We anticipate that average deductions will not entail any adverse consequences for most employers and will in many cases become easier to calculate,” Attorney Dasha Gafur of the Bird & Bird law firm told Bloomberg BNA May 15. “However, the proposed amendment may entail higher sick pay costs for companies that employ many employees on fewer but longer shifts.”

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 Social Affairs Ministry proposal is available in Swedish here.

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

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