Abolish ‘free year’ – unions

A number of the leaders of the Swedish trade union association, LO, have demanded that the "free year" scheme be abolished if the Social Democrats win next September's election.

The scheme, which allows an employee to take 3-12 months off while an unemployed person takes over the job temporarily, will cost two billion kronor next year.

Proponents of the scheme say that it has the double benefit of giving the employee extra time for “recreation, education or personal development” and the jobseeker valuable experience.

But LO’s leaders say that it does not contribute to increased employment and are expected to fight for its abolition at the Social Democrats’ party conference in Malmö at the beginning of November.

“The free year is a mistake. Swedish employment officers ought to be concerned with getting people into jobs. They shouldn’t be spending time sorting out free years,” said Göran Johnsson of the Metall union.

The chairman of the builders’ union Byggnads, Hans Tilly, agreed:

“The big problem in Sweden is not that people want time off – it’s that people want jobs,” he said.

Is the ‘free year’ scheme a good idea? Discuss!

TT/The Local