Sweden Country Profile - Working Practices

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Working hours

Sweden is among the most heavily unionised countries in the world, and working conditions are often governed by collective agreements negotiated by the unions on behalf of the employees rather than by private employment contract. Although the Working Hours Act states that regular working hours should not exceed 40 per week, collective agreements can supersede these laws. Paid overtime is available to many employees, but work/life balance is an important concept so flexitime and home working are very popular.


Under the Annual Leave Act, employees in Sweden have a recommended holiday entitlement of 25 days plus public holidays, but depending on the collective agreement, these conditions can be altered. Parental leave and sick leave are usually available to permanent employees, but check the terms of the relevant collective agreement (or your private employment contract) for full details.

Public holidays

Sweden has a relatively large number of public holidays, although not all necessarily equate to a day off work, especially where holidays fall on a weekend. Public holiday entitlement may be covered in your collective agreement or private employment contract. However, you can generally expect the majority of businesses in Sweden to close for at least Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. On other public holidays, Sunday opening hours may be observed.

Public holiday dates


New Year's Day: 1st January

Epiphany: 6th January

Good Friday: 19th April

Easter Sunday: 21st April

Easter Monday: 22nd April

Labour Day: 1st May

Ascension Day: 30th May

National Day: 6th June

Midsummer’s Eve: 21st June

All Saints Day: 2nd November

Christmas Eve: 24th December

Christmas Day: 25th December

Boxing Day: 26th December

New Year’s Eve: 31st December

Visas and eligibility to work

EU citizens and some other nationalities may be able to enter Sweden without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days. However, depending on your nationality and whether you intend to work, you will need to register with the relevant authorities. Applications for entry and residence documentation are managed by the Migration Board and in many cases can be made online. Foreign nationals may apply for Swedish citizenship after a given duration of residency – typically around 5 years. Although Sweden has a National ID Card system, these are not yet compulsory.

Tax and social security

The majority of foreign nationals working in Sweden are required to pay tax on their income. Exceptions to this rule include employees working less than 183 days a year in Sweden, provided that their employer does not have a fixed operating base in Sweden. If your employer has a commercial site in the country you must pay tax even on short-term contracts lasting less than six months, but you may be taxed at a lower rate. Similarly, foreign nationals working in Sweden for less than a year are normally exempt from social security payments, but after a year these become compulsory as for Swedish citizens. Anyone planning to stay in the country long-term should register with the Swedish Population Register to obtain the personal identity number they need to pay taxes correctly.

Pensions and benefits

Sweden takes great pride in its social care system and foreign workers who contribute social security payments from their wages are entitled to many of the same benefits as Swedish citizens. These include a number of tax-free benefits, as well as a pension and insurance against work injury and health issues. To find out more about your eligibility and how to apply, visit the Swedish Social Insurance Agency website.


The rights of people with disabilities to fully participate in society are clearly laid out in Swedish law. Disabled workers may be entitled to funding for workplace aids and can apply for special dispensation to have the cost of any sick leave covered by the government, ensuring that employers of disabled workers are not financially disadvantaged in the event of any absences from work relating to their disability.

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