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EMPLOYMENT

‘Sweden’s youth pay for diluted job insurance’

Rising underemployment and curtailed access to job insurance is hitting Sweden's younger workers with a double whammy as they attempt to shore up their income security, unions have warned.

'Sweden's youth pay for diluted job insurance'

Amid the alarm bells about youth unemployment, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) on Monday announced that access to job insurance among Sweden’s young has dropped by 76 percent in less than a decade.

Only 10 percent of jobless young Swedes get job insurance today, its statistics revealed. The report compared figures from 2006 and 2012 compiled from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån) and looked at Swedes aged 15-24, not including full-time students.

“It’s terrible that job insurance has been gutted to the point that 76 percent fewer young people have access to it,” LO spokesman Dan Lindqvist Dahlin told The Local.

“Today you need to have been working for twelve months rather than six, of which you need to show that in a half-year period you have worked a minimum of 80 hours a month compared to the previous 70-hour requirement,” Lindqvist Dahlin said of labour reforms enacted in 2007.

SEE ALSO: Seven key facts about Swedish job insurance

The chickens are now coming home roost for Sweden at a time when unemployment and underemployment are affecting younger workers in particular, according to the union.

“This 80-hour requirement hits the young hardest as many of them have no choice but to work part-time,” he said.

The report also found that unemployment in this age bracket had soared by 18 percent compared to 2006.

At the same time, many more young Swedes face “underemployment,” when access to full-time work is not available. The report found that there were 76,800 underemployed youth seven years ago, a number that had hit 93,000 by last year.

Union spokesman Lindqvist Dahlin said foreign-born workers were especially vulnerable if information about their rights did not reach them.

“If you come here as someone’s girlfriend or boyfriend, you usually have a support structure and people around you to explain the Swedish system,” Lindqvist Dahlin told The Local.

“Labour migrants, however, need to get information from the Migration Board, from the unions and of course the employer, which hasn’t always worked.”

Ann Törnkvist

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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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