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Working in Sweden

Two employees in a work environment in Sweden - Lund University
Photo by Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

Working in Sweden

Rights and regulations

Most Swedish workplaces have a collective agreement between unions and employers that regulates wages and working conditions, including health and accident insurance. Collective agreements guarantee that the same rules apply to everyone and establish the minimum acceptable terms of employment. In the Swedish labour market in general and in Swedish workplaces, the rights of the workers are extremely important. Labour unions are powerful in Sweden and negotiate with employers on behalf of the member employees. According to Swedish legislation on equality and anti-discrimination everyone should be treated equally regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.

Workplace culture

At Swedish workplaces teamwork is considered to be very important, but the culture is also based on individual responsibility. Many decisions are made in consensus at meetings, but individuals are expected to take full responsibility for completing their own work assignments. Many Swedish companies and organisations apply flexible working hours, so that each individual employee can achieve a good work-life balance. You will generally not find a strict hierarchy in the workplace and everyone is expected to cooperate to drive projects forward.

What you get for your salary

It's always difficult to compare salaries from one country to another, as in the end it depends on what you get for your money. In Sweden your employer will deduct your taxes directly from your gross salary. You will be insured at your workplace and you don't need to buy a separate health insurance, as healthcare is provided for everyone with a Swedish personal identity number (social security number) as a part of the Swedish welfare system. Other benefits include parental benefits, sickness benefits, unemployment benefits, etc.

Read more about social benefits in Sweden at work.sweden.se.

A father with two children - Lund University
Photo by Kristin Lidell/imagebank.sweden.se

Family life in Sweden

When planning a move to Sweden for work, make sure that you have checked the residence permit rules that apply to your spouse and children who are moving with you with the Swedish Migration Agency. Once you are living in Sweden and have your Swedish personal identity number there are plenty of benefits for you to enjoy. For example, in Sweden parents enjoy 480 days of paid parental leave per child. When your children are ill, you can stay at home to care for them and still receive 80% of your salary. Health care is subsidised and dental care is free for your children. Nursery care is also subsidised and schools are free at all levels for anyone with a Swedish residence permit.

Learning Swedish

Swedes have the highest proficiency in the world in English as a second language and as many as 90% of the Swedes speak English. Having said that, although it is certainly possible to get by in the Swedish society and in many organisations completely in English, we do recommend that you learn some Swedish if you are planning on staying in Sweden long term. Once you have arrived in Sweden and have your Swedish personal identity number, you can attend the govenment funded classes in Swedish for immigrants, often referred to as 'SFI'. These classes are offered by the municipality in the city where you live. In addition to the SFI courses, you can of course also find various private options and schools that offer Swedish language courses at all levels. At Lund University we offer Swedish language classes to our employees.

Read about the Swedish language classes and other benefits at Lund University

More about learning Swedish at work.sweden.se

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Facts about Sweden

Swedish flag
  • One of the safest and most eco-friendly countries in the world
  • Highest proficiency in English as a second language in the world
  • Ranked as the most creative country in the world
  • Ranked as the second most innovative country in the world
  • Consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world to live in

Other quick facts about Sweden (at Sweden.se)

Swedish tax rates 2017

Local taxes around 30 per cent 

National income taxes
None on income up to SEK 438,900
20 per cent on 438,901 to 638,500
25 per cent on income over 638,500

Income from capital
30 per cent (state tax)

Corporate income tax
22 per cent

Why are Swedes okay with paying taxes? Find out at Sweden.se