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Who is eligible for Swedish unemployment benefits?

Unemployment is expected to rise in Sweden this year, but what are the rules for unemployment benefit if you lose your job in Sweden?

Who is eligible for Swedish unemployment benefits?
You may be eligible for basic unemployment benefits even if you're not a member of an 'a-kassa'. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

If you become unemployed in Sweden through no fault of your own you may be eligible for unemployment benefits comprising up to 80 percent of your previous salary.

However, this benefit, known as a-kassa, short for arbetslöshetskassa, doesn’t automatically apply if you lose your job. You have to fulfil some requirements first in order to be eligible.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know if you lose your job in Sweden

What are the requirements?

“You need to fulfil the basic requirement, which means that you’re signed up to the unemployment agency and are available to work,” Charlotte Hasselgren, department head of Sveriges a-kassor, told TT newswire.

You’ll also need to fulfil a work requirement, meaning that you must have worked for at least six of the last 12 months, with at least 60 hours of work in each calendar month.

A working day in Sweden is typically 8 hours, so this means in practice that you need to have worked for at least 7.5 days a month for six months in the last year to qualify. It doesn’t matter if these days are spread out across the month or in a single block.

“There are a lot of exceptions,” Hasselgren said, “but this is the general rule.”

If you fulfil these requirements, you are entitled to the basic amount, known as grundbeloppet in Swedish, which is a benefit based on the amount you worked over the last six months. 

“If you’ve been a member of an a-kassa for 12 months, you’re eligible for an income-based benefit,” Hasselgren explained.

How much can you get?

The basic amount is 510 kronor per day, if you worked full-time for the last 12 months. If you worked less than that – full time for the last six months, for example – you will get a corresponding amount, in this case half of the basic amount: 255 per day.

As previously mentioned, the income-based benefit is as much as 80 percent of your previous salary, up to a maximum of 1,200 kronor per day for the first 100 days, after which you’ll receive a maximum of 1,000 kronor per day.

There are a number of different a-kassor you can join depending on the sector you work in.

“If you work across multiple sectors you can choose an a-kassa where you fulfil the requirements,” Hasselgren said. 

“There’s also an a-kassa which doesn’t cover any particular sector, Alfakassan.”

What if you’re not a member of an a-kassa?

If you lose your job and you are not a member of an a-kassa, or you haven’t been a member for long enough to qualify for income-based benefits, you can apply to Alfakassan, who handle benefit payouts for a-kassa non-members.

“But you still need to fulfil the basic requirement and work requirement,” Hasselgren said.

“There’s a general assumption that you have to be a member of an a-kassa for a year to get a benefit, but you can still get a basic benefit,” she explained. “You just need to apply for it at Alfakassan.

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

Immigrants’ skills ‘badly matched’ to Swedish labour market

Sweden is experiencing a labour shortage, partly due to the fact that the skills of immigrants in the country are not well matched with the labour market, a new report suggests.

Immigrants' skills 'badly matched' to Swedish labour market

Many countries are experiencing a record high labour shortage, and Sweden is no exception. The number of available jobs is around 50 percent higher than it was before the pandemic, and around 200 percent higher than in the years following the 2008 financial crisis.

“Despite the economy slowing down and unemployment rising, the labour shortage is a growing problem,” wrote Lund University associate professor Martin Nordin, one of the authors behind the study.

There are multiple reasons for this, including a demographic shift as elderly people leave the workforce, as well as a lack of key skills and an inability to correctly match immigrants’ skills with the needs of the labour market.

“Immigration is often considered to be a solution to a labour shortage,” Nordin said. “But the wave of refugees has probably resulted in a poorer match [of skills to jobs] on the labour market.”

He added that this may change as this group becomes integrated into society and onto the labour market.

“For the most part, it’s about learning the language, but it could also be about getting a professional licence, in nursing for example. This already seems to be happening in the health and social care sector,” he said, adding that immigrants’ skills could be an asset in the long-term.

The solution is not for people to move from one part of the country to another, he said, as all areas of Sweden are experiencing a labour shortage.

“The shortage is not yet obviously larger in Norrland than in the rest of Sweden,” Nordin said. That could change due to ongoing industrialisation in the north of the country, he added, but in that case this would be at the expense of other parts of Sweden.

There are benefits to a labour shortage, he added. As skilled workers move to more productive sectors which can offer higher salaries and better working conditions, growth increases.

“But the wage adjustment which we should be seeing alongside a labour shortage is not happening,” Nordin added. 

“This isn’t a Swedish phenomenon, rather the lack of wage adjustment seen since the financial crisis has been described as a global mystery.”

This could be due to weak competition on the labour market, he added.

The government’s decision to tighten up labour migration by raising the minimum salary could increase salaries across the labour market in the long-term, as foreign workers are forced to leave and competition on the labour market increases, but it may also have the knock-on effect that some sectors which cannot offer higher wages, like healthcare, will need more assistance from the government.

“Targeted wage initiatives may be needed for regions and municipalities outside of the ordinary wage negotiations,” Nordin said.

Foreign workers’ skills are also more well matched to the labour market in the healthcare sector, so pushing these workers out through harsher labour migration rules could worsen the labour shortage in this sector.

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