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Swedes set for slew of new laws in 2013

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Swedes set for slew of new laws in 2013
10:41 CET+01:00
Free vaccines, higher parental leave benefits, and more job security for temporary workers, are among the many changes set to take effect in Sweden after the New Year as part of a potpourri of new laws, also covering a few controversial topics.

The Finance and Social Affairs Ministries will be dealing with the longest lists of reforms, and each has political hot potatoes in its mix – subletting and transgender sterilization, respectively.

The government hopes that giving more flexibility to apartment owners to set rent for tenants will spur an increase in subletting, which in turn could ease the housing crunch by offering a financial incentive to rent out unused flats.

Annoyed tenancy organisations, however, have argued such a reform wrests power away from Sweden’s cooperative model of housing. They fear that rent inflation could make apartments too expensive for students, the unemployed, and other economically vulnerable groups.

Another controversial topic is the Swedish law that requires transgendered patients to be sterilized in order to legally change their sex. The government has removed the stipulation that transgender patients be Swedish citizens, only to add “the same sterilization requirement will apply to Swedish and foreign citizens.”

There were other measures in the health sectors, however, that many patients will welcome.

Swedish counties will have to provide a dental care discount to patients who have long-term problems and vaccines will also be free if a disease is deemed a danger to society.

Another much-discussed topic in recent months is tax-free tutors. Parents will be able to deduct taxes when they employ private tutors for their children. It is an extension of the household services tax breaks (RUT and ROT) that proponents say create jobs, while opponents say they entrenches socioeconomic disparity.

Parents in Sweden will enjoy a boost the minimum parental leave compensation from 180 kronor a day to 225 kronor ($27 to $34). The rate applies to about three months out of the total 16 months that parents get to split between them for each child. The other months are pegged to a parent’s salary and are generally more generous, usually amounting to about 80 percent of one's pay.

When children are sick, Swedish parents have had to send a note to the National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassen) to inform them they are home taking care of their ill tots in order to not lose their salary for that day.

The government has decided to scrap the requirement, which both parents and social security administrators have publicly said is a cumbersome paper exercise.

The Ministry of Justice, meanwhile, will make it easier for social services and police to communicate about Swedes younger than 21 who risk committing crime.

Meanwhile, Swedish courts will be allowed to share more information with their European colleagues.

For older Swedes, a tax cut would have given them 50 kronor extra in their wallet per month, if it were not for the fees for domestic assistance going up at the same time, and cancelling each other out.

The government will also make sure that temps are given the same benefits as other employees at their places of work, but the law change does not apply to salaries.

TT/The Local/at

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