Staffing firm used ‘fake’ jobs to dupe workers

A Swedish staffing firm has come under fire for offering workers temporary job assignments that didn't actually exist.

Staffing firm used 'fake' jobs to dupe workers

Several employees with Swedish staffing company Uniflex have reported being offered a job assignment that was so far away that they had no choice but to say no, Svergies Radio (SR) reported on Monday.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing, nothing at all. I told her I’d have to say no. She said okay, no problem, you’ve said no to the job,” a Uniflex employee told SR about an exchange with someone at the company about an assignment in Bålsta, located nearly 50 kilometres outside of Stockholm.

When Uniflex employees say no to offers of temporary job assignments, Uniflex then has the right to withhold the base salary normally paid to employees who are in between assignments.

Thus, by saying no to the job in the distant Stockholm suburb, the Uniflex employee ended up missing out on money that staffing firm normally would have paid.

“They called me in the morning. I told them it was outside of Stockholm. He said okay, if you don’t want the job, then say no. I didn’t know that they’d reduce my salary,” another employee told SR.

Several other Uniflex employees told of similar experiences of being offered assignments at the Bålsta location of packaging company Nefab last autumn which they were unable to accept.

What the employees didn’t realize, however, is that the assignments didn’t actually exist in the first place.

The ruse was only revealed when a Uniflex employee actually showed up at Nefab, much to the surprise of head of production at the facility.

“I called and talked with his boss at Uniflex and confirmed that he was in fact here, because they clearly didn’t think he was there,” Heidi Tapia of Nefab told SR.

At the time, the Uniflex supervisor tried to blame the mistake on the employee who turned up at the Nefab facility.

But after being contacted by the media, Uniflex CEO Jan Bengtsson admitted that his company had offered fictional assignments to employees.

He told SR that the practice was “totally unacceptable” and the person responsible for offering the non-existent assignments has been reassigned and that employees affected by the scam have had their pay restored.

However, when faced with claims that several Uniflex supervisors had offered fake jobs, Bengtsson was at a loss to explain the situation.

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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.”