This Swedish ad helps robots get parental leave and work-life balance

An ad campaign for a Swedish trade union confederation has become an unlikely viral hit thanks to its imaginative portrayal of robots demanding better working conditions and parental leave.

This Swedish ad helps robots get parental leave and work-life balance
Even robots like meatballs, according to this Swedish video. Photo: TCO

In principle, a video about the “Swedish system for industrial relations” may not sound like a recipe for an instant internet hit, but the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO) has pulled it off, managing to chalk up over 113,600 Youtube views for a video on that very subject in the space of 24 hours.

The video set in the near future shows a variety of artificial intelligence equipped robots banding together and forming a union, then demanding benefits like a retirement plan and Sweden’s famously generous parental leave.

Judging by the steady flow of Youtube views, it’s a hit. Asked why, TCO project manager Per Karlberg told The Local he believes it’s “a combination between the fascination with AI and the humorous tone”.

“We can all relate to the bots in the video. Of course they should have some breaks and go for a vacation every once in a while! Another factor is that viewers from outside of Sweden find the Swedish work environment pretty unreal – is it really possible to get parental leave, six weeks’ vacation and a retirement plan? Yes it is, and we have the ‘Swedish Part Model’ to thank for that,” he added.

For anyone wondering what the “Swedish Part Model” is, according to TCO, it's another term for the “Swedish system of industrial relations” which they thought would be “less nerdy sounding”.

TCO’s Karlberg explained that the point of the video is to show that Sweden’s “system of industrial relations is future proof and will take care of the changes in the Swedish labour market, even the ones expected in the fourth industrial revolution”.

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, described the trend of emerging technology breakthroughs in fields like AI, robots and autonomous vehicles.

TCO has even gone as far as creating a real life version of the AI head of the robot union shown in the video, “Clever Botson”, and is encouraging users to interact with it.

Clever Botson would rather talk about employment agreements than C-3PO and R2-D2. Photo: The Local's screengrab

So far, The Local’s attempts to stimulate the robot have only resulted in answers telling us it can talk about employment agreements, holidays, and other work-related issues. Clever probably isn’t the kind of robot you want to take on a wild night out.

For members


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.”