‘Foreign staff benefit from restaurant VAT cut’

A nine-percent increase in jobs in the Swedish restaurant industry has mostly benefited the young and employees born abroad, a review of jobs statistics from 2012 has shown.

'Foreign staff benefit from restaurant VAT cut'
Chefs in action. File photo: USDAgov/Flickr

Restaurant industry association Visita trawled jobs figures from Statistics Sweden, the official statistics bureau in Sweden, to look at who had stood to gain from the slash in restaurant VAT. The review showed that young people and employees born abroad had taken on the lion's share of the 8,000 news jobs created in the sector in 2012,

Visita has, however, been criticized in the past for politicizing statistics, the TT news agency noted.

On Thursday, the Visita CEO said that the upswing was proof that the centre-right government's move to cut the restaurant VAT had had the desired effect of jobs creation. The 8,000 news jobs represent a nine-percent increase in employment opportunities. Half of the jobs went to jobseekers younger than 24, while 3,000 new staff members were born abroad. 

The government's decision to cut restaurant VAT would be reversed by a left-wing government if the Social Democrats win the September elections. The main opposition party has said that reinstating VAT would be used to finance a 90-day jobs or education guarantee for young out-of-work Swedes.

The Visita CEO on Thursday lamented the effects of any such reform.

"The restaurant industry is an important road into the labour market for both young people and people born abroad," Eva Östling said, adding that reinstated VAT would hit those two groups the hardest, especially if a left-wing government also increased employers'  social security contributions for young staff.

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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.”