“Raise unemployment pay to get Swedes off sick leave”

Many Swedes remain on long term sick leave even when they are capable of returning to work because they are worried about becoming unemployed - where they will earn less than their sick pay.

An official inquiry into Sweden’s social insurance system has concluded that initial unemployment benefits should rise, at least to the level of sick pay, to encourage people to move from one system to the other.

After a short time, unemployment pay should then fall to a relatively low level, so that people are inclined to seek work, wrote the report’s authors, Anna Hedborg and Patric Hägglund, in Dagens Nyheter.

“A sufficiently high level of benefits for a sufficient period of time could be very effective if it plays down unemployment and makes it possible for the individual to seek suitable work,” argued Hedborg and Hägglund.

The difference between sick pay and unemployment is significant. People on sick leave currently receive 80 percent of their salary up to 28,660 kronor per month, while the ceiling for unemployment benefit is 18,500 kronor per month.