Revealed: This is how much overtime you may have to work in Sweden

What happened to the work-life balance?

Revealed: This is how much overtime you may have to work in Sweden
A woman hurrying to get to the fika break? Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Sweden may have grabbed global headlines in the past year over its many regional 'six-hour work day' schemes – however, as The Local has previously reported, that is not the whole truth.

A new report based on figures from number crunchers Statistics Sweden and trade union Unionen has now shed light on how much time the Swedes actually spend at work, suggesting that more than one out of six Swedes on average clock up more than 6.2 hours of overtime per week.

In Sweden rules for paid overtime are usually regulated in union agreements with workplaces, or in workers' individual contracts, however many don't actually write down their hours because they do not want to be seen as slow at getting the job done or not hard-working, says Unionen.

In Stockholm more than a third of those who work overtime do not get paid for it.

“At workplaces where people consistently work overtime, the employer must adapt the organization and hire more people. (…) They have to be able to carry out the work within the normal working week,” Henrik Ehrenberg of Unionen told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

In Stockholm around 16 percent told the survey that they work overtime.

The largest proportion was found in Jönköping county, 18.4 percent, followed by Halland, 18.1 percent. Employees in Västernorrland, Norrbotten and Södermanland worked the least overtime.

Last month a report by EU statistical office Eurostat measured the number of years people aged 15 by 2015 in each EU nation was expected to be active in the labour market.

Swedes were the citizens in Europe expected to work the most, with the predicted 41.2 working years the longest on average in the EU, almost six years more than the average over the whole of the EU.

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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.”