Swedish job laws to be weakened

Sweden's strong employment protection laws are to be reformed by the government, in moves that have been criticised by unions.

Under plans being put forward by labour minister Sven Otto Littorin, employers will be able to keep workers on fixed-period contracts for two years rather than the current 14 months before being forced to offer them a permanent position, Dagens Nyheter reports.

“Taken together with the changes to unemployment benefits, it’s hard to see how some of our members will manage,” said Ella Niia of the Hotel and Restuarant Workers’ Union to the paper.

The centre-right government is also scrapping plans introduced by the Social Democrats to ban seasonal employment contracts.

The government’s changes will strengthen employee rights in some areas. People working on temporary contracts to replace permanent staff will be entitled to permanent jobs if they work for the same employer for two out of five years. Current rules only give workers this right if they have been working for three of the past five years.

The Swedish Journalists’ Union was also critical of the proposals. Chairwoman Agneta Lindblom Hulthén called the changes to rules on fixed-period contracts “a catastrophe”.

“Sven Otto Littorin promised not to touch workers’ rights, but now he seems to be doing just that,” she told DN.