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Sweden’s job agency fires 1,800 employees

A total of 1,800 employees at the Swedish national agency in charge of helping job-seekers have been told they will be let go, as a result of budget cuts set to affect operations across the country.

Sweden's job agency fires 1,800 employees
A job centre in Boden, one of the sites slated for closure. Photo: Petra Älvstrand/TT

The layoffs are not as serious as expected – earlier this year the Arbetsförmedlingen agency warned it would have to let up to a third of its workforce, or 4,500 people, go amid a major restructuring drive.

But part of the reason behind the slightly milder impact is that around 1,100 of its staff have already voluntarily chosen to quit and seek employment elsewhere in the first four months of the year.

Around 1,600 people have this week been told they will be let go, and another 200 are waiting to find out.

“It would obviously have been a lot worse if 4,500 people had had to quit,” the chair of trade union ST, Fredrik Andersson, told Swedish news agency TT. “But it's a really tough situation. Many people who have been working for years are now being let go and it's very tragic for them.”

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know if you lose your job in Sweden

Arbetsförmedlingen originally announced the job cuts in January this year, saying it was a result of cash cuts included in both the right-wing opposition budget passed by parliament last year, but also in the new government deal between the left and centre-liberal parties.

It is currently looking at which of its job centres will have to be closed across Sweden, and earlier this year released a list of some of the ones that are likely to be affected.

Vocabulary

let go (an employee) – avskeda

voluntarily – frivilligt

staff – personal

workforce – personalstyrka

work – arbeta/jobba

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Swedish by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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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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