The government has put forward a proposal that would allow British citizens a grace period of one year in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which would allow them to stay in Sweden and give them time to apply for necessary residence and work permits without experiencing any change to their rights.
But the government has not yet clarified whether it will introduce special legislation and new permits to deal with British citizens, or if they would be subject to existing permit regulations.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the country's biggest business federation, said that the year-long exemption was “necessary” but suggested that this be increased to 18 or 24 months in order to “better allow for the necessary time to arrange the target group's applications and permits”.
This comes after the Migration Agency, which would be responsible for processing and granting permits, said it could not guarantee that it would be able to process permits for all those affected within 12 months.
What's more, the confederation warned that many Brits risked not having their permits approved if these were processed under existing legislation.
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Work permit laws require employers to meet certain conditions when employing non-EU workers, including having advertised the position in a certain way and offering the employee terms (such as salary, benefits, and insurances) either in line with collective agreements or, if no collective agreement exists, in line with the national standard for the field.
Currently, British citizens are able to move to and work in Sweden without needing to meet these conditions, due to the freedom of movement within the EU. This means that many of them may work for employers who don't offer them the conditions required for non-EU workers, particularly when it comes to the required insurance policies.
“For the Brits who work at companies which have signed collective bargaining agreements, the new handling probably won't mean any changes regarding the possibility to [receive] a continued residence permit and employment,” said the confederation.
But for those working in companies without such agreements, it warned that “practical problems with a risk of [permit] rejection” were likely.
“Brits who today work in Sweden under employment conditions that deviate from kollektivavtal (collective agreement) and who apply for residence permits based on their existing employment conditions run a high risk of having their application rejected,” it said.
The confederation's advice to companies employing British citizens was to ensure that those employees' conditions fulfilled the same requirements as those set out in the existing law regulating work permits. This would include introducing comprehensive insurance policies for all employees, since it is not possible to do this for individual workers only.
It also raised the question of whether Brits' applications would be treated as first-time permit applications or as extensions, and warned that the latter would be “especially problematic”.
This is because work permit extensions can only be granted if the employment conditions have been met throughout the worker's time in Sweden, and some necessary insurance policies cannot be applied retroactively.