The Act on Litigation in Labour Disputes
This law covers procedures in disputes over collective bargaining agreements and other disputes concerning relations between employers and employees (labour disputes). The Swedish Labour Court, as the first and sole instance, settles disputes over the application of the Co-determination in the Workplace Act and over collective bargaining agreements, as well as other labour disputes in cases where the plaintiff is an employer association, trade union or an individual employer who has signed a local collective bargaining agreement.
Disputes concerning non-union employees or employers who have not entered into collective bargaining agreements are as a main rule tried by the district court as a court of first instance, and thereafter appealed to the Labour Court as the court of second and final instance. This also applies to individual employers or employees who, although belonging to an organization which has entered into a collective bargaining agreement, wish to pursue their case without the support of their organization.
The Working Hours Act
According to the Working Hours Act, the normal weekly working time is 40 hours. The Act limits the amount of overtime that an employee is allowed to work. It also contains provisions limiting the working time during a 24-hour period and regarding the minimum continuous weekly rest period. Thus the Act stipulates daily rest (11 hours) and weekly rest (36 hours). The Swedish Working Hours Act also contains a general prohibition against working at night. However, an employer may use night shifts if there are very special reasons for this or if the employer has an agreement with the local union or permission from the Work Environment Authority.
It is possible to opt out of either individual provisions of the act or the whole act by means of a collective bargaining agreement. However, such agreements may not be less beneficial to the employee than the provisions of certain EU Directives on working time. The collective bargaining agreements that the Swedish Industrial and Chemical Employer’s Association is bound by all contain derogations from the Working Hours Act.
The Sickness Benefits Act
The Sickness Benefits Act provides that the employer shall pay an employee that is sick sickness pay during the first two weeks of sickness. The first 20 percent of the average weekly working hours of sickness is a so-called waiting period, during which no benefit is paid. After that waiting period to the 14th day, the sickness benefit is equal 80 percent of the employee’s salary.
From the 15th day of sickness and onwards, the sickness benefit is paid by the state social security system and not by the employer. This benefit is capped and is often less than the sickness pay paid by the employer.
Many collective bargaining agreements provide for additional benefits paid by the employer in case of sickness. The collective bargaining agreements that the Swedish Industrial and Chemical Employer’s Association is bound by all provide for such extra benefits.