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EMPLOYMENT

AstraZeneca job cuts hit Södertälje hard

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca is closing its research facilities in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, as part of a major restructuring, resulting in the loss of around 1,000 Swedish jobs.

AstraZeneca job cuts hit Södertälje hard

“It might be redundancies, it might be early retirements or jobs elsewhere in the company,” AstraZeneca spokesperson Ann-Leena Mikiver told the TT news agency.

On Thursday, the company said it would axe 7,300 jobs worldwide by 2014 in a new cost-cutting drive, despite delivering bumper annual profits.

The company’s Södertälje workforce will be reduced by between 1,100 and 1,200 workers.

“Today the company announces the start of a new set of restructuring initiatives to further reduce costs and increase flexibility in all functional areas,” the London-listed group said in a results statement.

It added: “The total number of positions expected to be impacted for this phase is estimated to be approximately 7,300.”

Part of the restructuring calls for the closure of R&D activities in Södertälje and the creation of a “virtual” neuroscience team of around 40 to 50 scientists based in Boston in the United States and Cambridge in the UK.

However, AstraZeneca added that the new team would work closely with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and that Södertälje would remain “an important part of the AstraZeneca network” because it is the company’s largest manufacturing site and home base for business in the Scandinavian markets.

AstraZeneca’s latest job cuts are forecast to deliver $1.6 billion in annual benefits by the end of 2014, and are part of an ongoing efficiency drive.

The company cut 12,600 positions between 2007 and 2009 and removed another 9,000 roles by the end of last year.

The group meanwhile revealed that earnings after taxation surged 23 percent to $9.98 billion last year, compared with $8.053 billion in 2010.

Revenues flattened to $8.66 billion, from $8.62 billion.

However, AstraZeneca warned that earnings were expected to fall this year as patents on key drugs expire and governments in Europe and the United States squeeze prices.

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READER QUESTIONS

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.”

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