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Sweden – New staffing bill coming after pressure from EU

06 July 2012

After the EU Commission recently threatened Sweden with legal actions over its failure to enforce the European Agency Worker Directive (AWD), the Government yesterday announced its plans to implement the Directive by January 2013.

Swedish Staffing Agencies, the employer and trade federation for recruitment firms, declined to comment to Staffing Industry Analysts and is not prepared to provide further official statements until it has examined the draft bill. But a spokesman said that the association wanted the best solution for its membership.

Under Swedish law, temporary workers have to be employed by their staffing agency, therefore, the equal treatment provisions of the AWD which have impacted the UK market, for instance, are not relevant. Nevertheless, Swedish Staffing Agencies currently has collective agreements in place with 29 unions. These already widely cover the protection and equal treatment of temporary workers so it is unclear how the new law will affect these agreements. 

Although the bill still has to be sealed off by the Council of Legislation (lagrådsremiss) in the autumn, the new law should be enforced on 1 January 2013. The implementation of the law is over a year late as the EU Commission had given Sweden and other EU countries an official deadline to implement the AWD which already expired in December 2011.

The Commission said that the AWD “guarantees a minimum level of protection to temporary agency workers while supporting the positive role played by temporary agency work by providing flexibility in the labour market.” And the Swedish Government announced that the new law will “ensure fair employment conditions of temporary workers.”

“I am very pleased that we can now put forward a proposal that provides stronger protection for temporary workers, while the industry still has great potential to grow and develop within the framework of the Swedish model,” said Labour Minister Hillevi Engström.

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