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EMPLOYMENT

Sweden pledges billions to tackle sick leave lists

The Swedish government has announced the allocation of 17 billion kronor ($2.36 billion) in the autumn budget for initiatives to prepare the long-term sick for a return to the workplace.

According to the government, around 50,000 people claiming long-term sickness benefits stand to fall out of the system next year. This group has now been targeted with extra labour market measures, such as subsidized employment positions or practical occupational experience.

The Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) will be given an extra 1.5 billion kronor to administer the new groups of applicants.

Even the group classified as disability pensioners are affected by the measures, according to labour market minister Sven Otto Littorin.

“It is a question of building bridges,” he said.

Benefit payments for people occupied within the programmes would range from 223-680 kronor per day.

“This would depend on entitlement to unemployment insurance benefits,” Littorin said.

But the government is not completely closing the door on the possibility of remaining on sickness benefits if the individual concerned is unable to participate in the Employment Service’s programmes.

“There will be some flexibility within the system,” Littorin assured.

Those that lose their rights to sickness benefits will at first undergo a three-month evaluation to establish their capacity for work.

They would then be forwarded to the Employment Service which will present alternatives from the portfolio of labour market training measures on offer.

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IMMIGRATION

Boys claim woman threatened them with ‘sex or deportation’

A woman who ran a refugee home in central Sweden is under investigation for sexual offences after two Afghan boys claimed she threatened them with deportation if they refused her advances.

Boys claim woman threatened them with 'sex or deportation'
File image of asylum seekers in a Migration Agency waiting room in Solna. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

The boys, who have not been named, say the woman encouraged them to film her having sex with them, newspaper Eskilstuna Kuriren reports.

She then urged them to watch the films and to phone her when they missed her, they said. 

Eskilstuna Kuriren was given access to the films and believes they show the acts described by the boys, and that the woman can clearly be identified. She rejects the accusations.

The boys told Eskilstuna Kuriren they tried to inform social services and the police about what was happening but nobody listened to them.

They then went to the newspaper with their story on the advice of relatives living in another part of Sweden. 

“The boss at the home forced us into it and exploited us for sex. She knew we had to, and that nobody would help us,” one said. 

The boys say they had sex with the woman on four or five occasions, at a hotel and in her own home in the Sörmland region.

On one occasion all three were in bed together, they say, but mostly one of the boys had sex with the woman while the other filmed. 

The woman also offered the boys alcohol, they claim, saying it would help them enjoy the experience and despite them being under 18, the legal age for drinking alcohol. 

They allege that she promised to buy them clothes and toiletries if they had sex with her, but she also told them she would destroy important documents and get the migration agency to deport them if they turned her down.

They also faced sexual advances from other people in the woman’s social circle, they say. 

In an interview with Eskilstuna Kuriren one of the boys says they would be “stoned to death” if they ever went back to Afghanistan and their story got out. 

The boys were recently moved to a home in a different municipality. Local authorities there contacted the police after learning of their allegations. 

Police confirmed to the newspaper that an investigation into sexual offences was ongoing. They would not specify what the alleged offences were. 

The boys say they arrived in Sweden in November after they were urged by their families to flee Afghanistan and seek a better life.