• 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

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)

Today's headlines
Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm
Minehunter HMS Koster takes part in the search in the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm

Sweden's armed forces were continuing to search for the cause of apparent "foreign underwater activity" in the Stockholm Archipelago on Monday. But the military denied news agency reports that they had imposed an exclusion zone. READ  

Ebola crisis
Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days
The Uppsala University Hospital. Photo: TT

Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days

UPDATED: A patient has been cleared of any Ebola suspicions at the Uppsala University Hospital. It marks the second suspected case in Sweden in two days. READ  

Perspective: ‘Russian sub’ alert
Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters
The HMS Stockholm patrols Jungfrufjärden in the Stockholm archipelago on Monday morning. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters

With Sweden engaged in its biggest domestic military operation since the Cold War, The Local spoke to Johan Wiktorin, a fellow at the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences, to get insight into what’s going on in the Stockholm archipelago. READ  

My Swedish Career
US woman starts up Swedish toy store online
Leigh Neil and a llama hand puppet. Photo: Private

US woman starts up Swedish toy store online

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet Leigh Neil, who one day came to realize that there was a gap in the Swedish market for children's toys and decided to do something about it. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch
A CB90-class fast assault craft at Kullbäling, a small island in Stockholm's archipelago. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch

The Netherlands on Monday denied a Russian claim that a mystery vessel the Swedish military has been looking for could be Dutch. READ  

Lufthansa Strike
Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike
Grounded Lufthansa planes. Photo: TT

Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike

A strike by pilots at German airline Lufthansa will affect over 20 flights in and out of Sweden over the next two days. READ  

National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Photo: Shutterstock

Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars

A dentist in western Sweden is offering free dental care to his town's Roma begging population. READ  

Business & Money
Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts
Photo: TT

Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts

Swedish electrical appliance maker Electrolux reported its third-quarter net profit soared 42 percent to 933 million kronor ($130 million) thanks to a cost-cutting programme started at the end of last year. READ  

National
School photographer fired for homophobic slur
Photo credit: Shutterstock

School photographer fired for homophobic slur

A photographer at a high school in southern Sweden was sacked after he called one of the students a "fag" during a shoot. READ  

Ebola crisis
Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

A male passenger who landed at Stockholm's Arlanda airport has been transferred to an isolation unit amid fears he may be suffering from the Ebola virus. But a specialist was keen to play down concerns. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
National
Sweden deploys troops over underwater threat
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Blog updates

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 

17 October

Editor’s Blog, Oct 17th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Here’s the whole week of news in just 60 seconds. The most-read story was about a..." READ »

 
 
 
National
A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Lifestyle
Sweden's The Bridge to become 'more Danish'
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
National
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
Society
Interview with Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Gallery
Stefan Löfven through the years
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

987
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
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN