But the proposal has been widely criticised by employers’ organisations, who say that it will lead to increased unemployment.
The rule will not apply to companies with ten employees or fewer, and there will be a range of other exceptions with union groups able to make alterations to the rules by collective bargaining.
“This proposal will lead to a rise in unemployment. Two part time employees will not become two full time employees, so a lot of the part time roles will disappear. We’re talking about big numbers,” said Kent Brorsson, the head of labour law at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
“It’s hard to estimate how many will exploit their right to full time work, but in the worst case it could be tens of thousands.”
Brorsson also said that he fears that many employers will hesitate to take on more staff if a part time role is required: the risk that that person will demand a full time job could mean instead that nobody is employed at all.
“This sends negative signals to anyone who’s considering starting and running their own company,” said Brorsson.
A further exception to the full time rule will be that one seventh of the workforce may be part time. The employer will also be able to advise the authorities that the organisation simply does not need any more hours worked.
“Ultimately it is the need for labour which will decide,” said the head of the inquiry, Gudmund Toijer, at a press conference on Wednesday.
He also said that it was difficult to judge the consequences of the proposal with regard to the effect on employment overall and how “part time unemployment” specifically will be affected.
“You need to balance that with the actual labour needs of employers,” said Toijer.
He proposed that the law should come into force at the beginning of 2007, with the three year period for part time employees beginning then too.
According to Toijer, 200,000 people are involuntarily part time unemployed today. Three quarters of those are women.
Workers who are not given full time work will be able to seek compensation from their employers through the labour court.
Hotels, catering companies and shops, all of which tend to rely on part time labour, are expected to be most affected by the new regulations. The public sector, especially healthcare, will also be influenced.
“The proposal ought never to have been put forward. It is completely contrary to everything the Swedish model, with collective agreements and negotiations, stands for,” commented the managing director of the Swedish Trade Federation, Dag Klackenberg.
The employers’ organisation Almega also condemned the idea.
“To deprive the employer of the right to independently organise the workforce is the same as using the law to put the best player in the team on the substitutes bench,” argued Almega’s managing director, Jonas Milton.
“You don’t win any matches that way.”