• Sweden edition
 
How does Swedish unemployment insurance work?

How does Swedish unemployment insurance work?

Published: 05 Sep 2008 17:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2008 17:36 GMT+02:00

Ask The Local: I'm finding the issue of Swedish unemployment insurance a bit of a nightmare. Can you explain how it all works?Ana, Stockholm

Supporting yourself when you are unemployed is never a barrel of fun, but it is in many respects easier in Sweden than in many other countries. You are entitled to fairly generous payments, designed to ensure that people on average incomes are able to pay the bills while looking for a new job.

Most working Swedes are members of an unemployment insurance fund (A-kassa). This entitles them to up to 80 percent of their former salaries for their first 200 working days of unemployment. The following 100 days (so up to a year after becoming unemployed), are paid at 70 percent of previous income. Payments are capped at 680 kronor per day, though, so only people on relatively low incomes will receive 80 percent of their previous earnings.

Despite being funded largely by tax money, the Swedish unemployment insurance system is administered primarily by private organizations - principally trade unions. You don't have to be a Swedish citizen to join - all you need is a standard Swedish resident's permit and personal number.

Union-run schemes are open only to people who work in the relevant trades or professions (for instance, the Metall union's scheme is open to people working in heavy industry; the teacher's union's scheme - Lärarförbundets Arbetslöshetskassa - is open to teachers). You don't have to be a member of the relevant union to join the unemployment scheme, but some schemes offer discounts to union members.

There are a couple of schemes that cater for a wider range of people:

The AEA (Akademikernas Erkända Arbetslöshetskassa) is open to anyone with a degree. This is defined as anyone with 180 points gained through academic study in the European Credit Transfer System or 120 points in the old Swedish system. For people who have studied outside of Sweden, it usually means having gained a Bachelors degree.

Alfa Kassan is open to anyone, regardless of their job or academic qualifications.

The schemes are funded partly by the state (through payroll tax paid by employers) and partly out of fees paid by members.

The fees paid by members vary considerably from scheme to scheme, and broadly reflect the risk of unemployment in the sectors covered. The cheapest scheme is the Finance and Insurance Industries' Scheme (Finans- och försäkringsbranschens) at 118 kronor per month for non-union members, followed by AEA at 150 kronor. The most expensive schemes are those covering musicians and the fishing industry. The fees in these schemes are 433 kronor per month for non-union members.

You can download a full list of the various schemes' fees at the end of this article (it's in Swedish, but fairly easy to understand - the first column is for people who are not union members).

To be entitled to full unemployment insurance payouts you must have been a member of a scheme and in regular work for at least a year before becoming unemployed.

If you have not joined a scheme, or have not been a member for a full year before becoming unemployed, you are entitled to a basic payment of 320 kronor per day. You are only entitled to this if you have worked full time for the twelve months prior to applying for the money. If you have worked half-time you are entitled to 50 percent of the full amount, meaning you would get 160 kronor per day.

If you're not a scheme member, your payments will be made by Alfa Kassan, and you should contact them if you become unemployed. If you have been a member of another scheme for under a year, so do not qualify for the full payouts, your basic payouts will still be made by that scheme, not by Alfa Kassan.

Whichever kind of unemployment insurance you are receiving, an upside is that it is not means-tested. You can have a Bentley in the drive of your chateau and ten million in the bank, and you will still be entitled to payments if you become unemployed:

"The point is that it is not a benefit and it is not means-tested. It is a taxable income that is used as a basis for your state pension," says Gertrud Hedenström-Eriksson of SO, an organization coordinating all Sweden's unemployment insurance funds.

They might not be means-tested, but insurance schemes come with a number of strings attached. In order to qualify for the payments you must be physically able to work at least three hours a day and 17 days a week. You must also be actively seeking and be prepared to take a suitable job and have registered at the state job centre (Arbetsförmedlingen). Job centre staff can demand that you seek work outside your immediate home area in order to qualify for payouts.

Also worth bearing in mind is that unemployment insurance payments are taxed like any other income. Additionally, you will still have to pay insurance scheme fees while out of work, although you will be given a discount.

People who run or own a company must wind up the company, or at least suspend all activity, in order to qualify for unemployment insurance payments. Using the unemployment schemes to cover a downturn in business is not allowed, meaning many people who run small companies opt to remain outside the schemes altogether.

If you are out of work and not covered by any form of unemployment insurance you can receive so-called social benefits. These are administered by local municipalities and are means-tested to cover the basic cost of living.

Do you have a question about the practicalities of living in Sweden? Then drop us a line at news@thelocal.se.

Related links:

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Police seeking missing Swede in London
Sofie Marie Jansson, who is currently missing in London. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

771
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com