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One in four Swedish firms planning layoffs

Every fourth Swedish company has listed staff cutbacks as a top priority as they struggle to remain profitable in 2013, according to report released on Friday.

One in four Swedish firms planning layoffs

A gloomy outlook for Europe and Sweden was the main reason behind almost 25 percent of companies stating that job cuts were high on the list of cost saving measures this year.

This is an increase of more than 30 percentage points compared to a similar survey from last year.

The report was produced by The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, (Kungliga Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademien – IVA) and the Axholmen consultancy and published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).

According to the report, 60 percent of companies believe the economy will be worse in 2013 than last year.

The findings were based on a series of interviews with 131 CEOs from as many Swedish companies, the majority being in the energy, manufacturing and raw material industries, as well as within the trade and transport sectors.

Seventy percent of the companies plan to “streamline” remaining staff, by giving remaining employeesmore responsibility in order to tackle the excess work left over in the case of redundancies.

“This means that the companies have to start making priorities in their business,” explained Jakob Holm, the CEO of Axholmen, to DN.

“A risk that could follow is that the employees will be hit by fatigue. This is something the companies have to take into consideration.”

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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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