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Unemployment insurance to become mandatory in 2009

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19:13 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government said Friday it planned to introduce a mandatory unemployment insurance for all employees from July 2009, as almost a quarter of the labour force currently has no such cover.

"The ambition is that the insurance system will be obligatory by July 1st 2009," a labour ministry advisor, Fredrik Östbom, told AFP.

Almost one million of Sweden's 4.6 million employees have no unemployment insurance, a number that has risen since the centre-right government introduced an unemployment insurance reform in January.

Under the reform, premiums for unemployment insurance were raised while payouts to the jobless were decreased.

The payouts now represent just 65 percent of an employee's salary after 300 days while premiums have tripled on average, prompting many workers to cancel their insurance.

The issue of employment was the main theme of Sweden's September 2006 election campaign, with experts saying at the time that a fifth of Swedes of working age lived on state subsidies, either claiming unemployment, sick leave or early retirement payments or on government retraining schemes.

"Of course there is a connection between the increasing numbers of uninsured persons and the fact that we have raised the premiums. When we came into power there were 700,000 people without insurance," Östbom said.

"Since January 1st when we raised the premiums some 250,000 have left the insurance" system, he added.

The government plans to present a draft of the bill in January 2008 and hopes to submit the bill to parliament in September 2008.

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