Waitress demands sick pay for boob op

A waitress who works on a Baltic Sea ferry is suing her employers after they refused to give her sick pay while she was recovering from cosmetic breast surgery.

Waitress demands sick pay for boob op
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The waitress, who was born in 1981, took two weeks off from work last autumn to recover from the operation, which she admits was not for medical reasons. When the ferry company, Viking Line, found out why she had taken sick leave, bosses refused to give her sick pay and docked the time from her holiday allowance.

Now, union bosses are taking Viking Line to the labour court. Documents submitted to the court this week and seen by The Local show that the union is demanding over 185,000 kronor in damages and compensation for lost wages. Of that, 85,000 kronor is for the waitress and 100,000 for the union.

Dag Gustavsson, press secretary for Transportgruppen, the employer’s organization representing ferry companies, says the law is quite clear:

“The Seaman’s Act states that a seaman is not entitled to sick pay if he or she has deliberately caused him or herself an injury. This was a cosmetic operation, and therefore the injury should be seen as self-inflicted,” he told The Local.

According to the woman’s union, Seko, the fact that the woman’s injuries were self-inflicted is irrelevant, and does not believe that maritime law should apply.

“An operation is an operation, and you should get the same sick pay for that whether you work on sea or land,” Seko’s Mats Ekeklint told The Local.

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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”