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'Swedes no longer sickest in EU': report

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 4 Feb 2010, 08:27

Published: 04 Feb 2010 08:27 GMT+01:00

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"In relation to how it has looked before, the levels of sick leave are low in Sweden today," Jon Dutrieux, an investigator at the Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate, told SR's Ekot news programme.

When studies are conducted, Sweden is usually compared to eight other EU and EEA countries with similar sickness insurance systems.

Since 1987 Sweden has been out in front with a good margin above the EU average, although the levels have fluctuated wildly over the period as Sweden has both battled with a fiscal crisis and high unemployment, and enjoyed an economic boom.

According to preliminary calculations, Sweden's sickness levels are now at around 2.4 percent of the working population after a steady decline since 2003.

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Of Sweden's neighbours, Norway and Finland both report higher levels of sick leave, with the former now taking the baton as the European country with the highest proportion of convalescents.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:15 February 4, 2010 by StockholmSam
Atchoooo! *sniff sniff*
12:06 February 4, 2010 by krrodman
Last summer a SD friend of mine and I were having our usual USA v Sweden talk. I mentioned that I had taken 6 sick days in 27 years of working. "Impossible," she said. "What do you do if you have a bad cold?" "Go to work, of course," I replied.

The conversation went on for a while. Her last question was the best and the most telling:

"Don't you think you would be a better and more efficient worker if you could take a "mental health" day every once in a while?"

All I could do was laugh.
13:07 February 4, 2010 by Celc

Whenever you use abbreviations you should write the full name once unless it's unmistakably obvious what you mean (like USA). I say this because people on The Local seem to mistakenly abbreviate the largest part Socaldemokraterna (or Social Democrats in English) into SD but it's simply S. SD would be Sverige Demokraterna (Swedish Democrats in English) the nationalistic and protectionist party that has zero seats in parliament.

Now, I don't agree with the behavior of taking sick days when you aren't medically sick but going to work when you have a bad cold is pretty irresponsible (Swedes do this all the time too even if your friend doesn't) as you would be spreading your disease to your co-workers and that just lowers productivity for everyone.

I wish western society would take up the Japanese culture of at least wearing a face mask as to not spread germs to others when you are sick, if you are going to go to work.
15:17 February 4, 2010 by sherkovic
offcourse lot of hardworking immigrants have changed the whole equation.

in my 5 years I never had a full day off as a sick leave...
15:23 February 4, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
No surprise. I was under the impression that a papercut granted you a months worth of paid time off sick leave in Sweden.

I suppose it's unsporting to corroborate this study's finding with them predominance of the state run healthcare.
22:30 February 4, 2010 by Greg in Canada
My wife is a teacher and is allowed 21 sick days a year with pay including "mental health" days. As if getting the summer off, two weeks at X-mas and a week for March break isn't enough time off.

I'm self employed and time off costs me money. Guess which one of us is "sick" the most often.
00:10 February 5, 2010 by xenyasai
@krrodman: So, where do you want you medal shipped to?

If you have anything else you want to brag about, let me know, maybe you can get more medals.

Like Celc says, it is irresponsible to go to work when you are sick. You are spreading a cold, costing the company money because not everyone might have such a strong immune system as you have. It is also worth to know that it puts a lot of strain or your heart to force yourself to pretend to be fully functional when you are indeed sick; so if you want to put your life at risk, go right ahead and go to work sick.

Seriously, what do you prove when you come into work sick?
02:40 February 5, 2010 by repat_xpat
When I worked in Sweden, I understood our compan policy was that the first day off was without pay, the second day was reduced pay and the rest of the week was full pay. If this is true, it does both, encourage people to come to work when they are sick (don't want to miss the day's pay) and encourage people to stay home longer (if you do take a sick day, you'd better make it worth while, take the whole week). I don't think I ever saw someone take less than three days off.

Being an immigrant worker I never took a sick day so I never learned first hand.

The bit about endangering your co-workers by coming with a cold is just another excuse to stay home and goof off. People are exposed to cold germs every time they step outside. Coughing or sneezing into a tissue and washing your hands is enough.

sherkovic maybe right, the increasing immigrants are making a difference, but there has also been less job security in Sweden and more talk about addressing the sick time issue. Both of these have had an effect soon.
03:44 February 5, 2010 by Davey-jo
I make my claim to be the sickman of Europe.....
20:34 February 9, 2010 by steve_38
Speak to a brit and if asked how are you the inevitable answer is OK. Same question to someone Swedish and the answer is generally a long list of problems and illnesses. Some of my best mates are Swedish, on average they have at least one week a year.

Remember the figures above do not include the army of part time sick ( I still laugh when I hear this term).

Xena, where I work the average sickness for the mgt team is no time off in 5 years the shop floor is 1.5%.

Swedes would be less sick if they stopped whining about how they feel all the time and just go to wrok and get over it.

I agree with the point above the influx of east europeans has dragged the average down
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