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Explained: How to understand what your Swedish payslip really means

Explained: How to understand what your Swedish payslip really means
Even many native Swedish speakers don't fully understand all the terms on their payslip, so here's what you need to know. Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se
Getting your monthly payslip should be a positive experience if you've found a job in Sweden. But as long as the money finds its way to your account, it's easy to forget to look over the paperwork, especially when it's written in bureaucratic Swedish.

It's not just a case of the technical vocabulary used, but some of the terms you'll see on your payslip relate to concepts that may not exist at all in countries you've previously worked in.

So it's important to be able to read the document, both to look for any mistakes and to keep on top of things such as vacation allowance and overtime.

It's also worth keeping PDF or physical copies of your payslips for your financial records, and so that you have evidence just in case you need it in future. This might be helpful to claim money back from the employer if you realize there was a mistake, or to send to various authorities for calculation of student loans or income-based benefits, or proof that you are working in Sweden, for example.

So here's a guide to de-mystifying your Swedish lönebesked or lönespecifikation (payslip). Exactly how it looks, and which terms are included, will depend on your employer, your contract and which company they use to process their salaries.

The basics

Most employees of Swedish companies will receive their wages monthly, and you'll receive your payslip (almost always electronically) on the same day or a few days before. Generally this happens on the 25th of each month, but when the 25th falls on a weekend or public holiday, it will be the last working day beforehand. That's not the case everywhere, but it should be stated in your employment contract.

Your payslip will typically include some information relating to the löntagare (employee – that's you!) which might be your full name, Swedish personnummer (personal ID number), address, and your bank account number. There should also be a section labelled arbetsgivare (employer) with your employer's registered address and organization number.

Löneperiod

This is literally the 'salary period'; the time period that this payslip relates too. Usually salaries are paid for the previous month, so the payslip you receive in February will refer to hours worked, salary earned, and holiday or other benefits taken in January.

Utbetalningsdatum

The payment date, or the date on which your salary should be in your bank account. 

Grundlön

This is your basic salary; the amount you receive before tax, holiday, sick days, benefits and so on are taken into account. In other words, this is the amount stated on your employment contract or when you received your job offer.

Depending on what type of employment you have, different terms may be used. Workers on a fixed monthly salary might see the term månadslön (monthly salary) while if your pay is calculated by an hourly rate it will likely say timlön (hourly salary) along with the number of hours you worked.

Övertid

Övertid can be translated literally: overtime. Many employment contracts, usually those which adhere to a collective bargaining agreement or kollektivavtal, state that workers must be paid extra if they work beyond their agreed hours. This might be marked in your payslip as övertidsersättning (overtime pay).

If a project has you working extra hours or late nights, you may receive extra compensation. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

OB, ob-tillägg eller ob-ersättning

If you worked so-called 'uncomfortable hours' (obekväm arbetstid), many contracts also entitle you to an extra payment for this. It usually applies if you had to work on a weekend or evening.

Sjuklön

Literally 'sick pay', this is the money you receive for days you took off due to illness. It's often calculated as 80 percent of your basic salary (but differs depending on your individual agreement) and is paid by your employer for the first 14 days after a one-day waiting period. After day 15 of an illness, you will be paid sickness benefit by the state, but some employees are also entitled to additional pay from their employer too.

Many payslips will show a sjukavdrag (illness deduction), which is your daily salary multiplied by the number of days you were sick, a karensavdrag which is the deduction for the waiting period, and then the sjuklön itself. 

Vård av sjukt barn 

In Sweden, you're entitled to paid leave if it's your child who is sick, and you need to care for them, and this leave is called Vård av sjukt barn or VAB colloquially. 

It's the state that pays for this, so on your payslip you might see a deduction of salary for time taken as VAB, and then a separate payment.

Semesterlön

In Sweden, you get paid extra when you take your annual leave. So on your payslip, look out for semesterlön or semestertillägg (payment for annual leave), as well as semesterersättning (this refers to money paid out for leave not taken).


Photo: Kristin Lidell/imagebank.sweden.se

Traktamente

If you had to travel for work, whether to a different country or within Sweden, you're probably entitled to a per diem amount known as traktamente. The exact figures vary depending on location, time spent there, and whether meals or accommodation were included.

Skatt och arbetsgivaravgift

This is often the title of a section on your payslip, and it means 'taxes and employer fees'.

There will often be at least two rows: one for skatt (tax), and this figure is income tax taken directly from your total before-tax salary. Then there's the arbetsgivaravgift (employer fees), which is money that your employer pays, but doesn't have a direct impact on your final salary.

Semesterdagar

Your semesterdagar are 'holiday days', the number of days' annual leave you have.

In Sweden, most employees are entitled to at least the statutory minimum of 25 days' annual leave, of which 20 must be used within that tax year but the remainder can be rolled over for up to five years.

Your payslip will likely show you how many days of paid holiday (betalda semesterdagar) and unpaid holiday (obetalda semesterdagar) you took that month, how many days of paid holiday you have saved from previous years (sparade semesterdagar), and how many days of holiday you have remaining (kvarvarande semesterdagar).

You'll want to make sure that your holiday days taken match up with your semesterlön received, and that your holiday days remaining are in line with what you expected.

Do you have a question about living or working in Sweden that you'd like us to answer, or is there a general topic relating to those areas that you think we should write more about? Please get in touch with our editorial team at any time.


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