Coronavirus: Sweden makes it easier to receive unemployment insurance

Coronavirus: Sweden makes it easier to receive unemployment insurance
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Financial Markets and Housing Minister Per Bolund announce the new measures. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT
Sweden has temporarily relaxed the rules on who is eligible for unemployment insurance, as part of a new package introduced to help those whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The rules around who is eligible for the insurance have been relaxed, while both the minimum and maximum amounts to be paid out have been raised as part of a raft of new measures.´These were announced by the Social Democrat-Green government together with the Centre and Liberal parties on Monday afternoon.

Sweden has unemployment funds called 'arbetslöshetskassa' or 'a-kassa', and millions of workers pay into these funds which offer income-based unemployment insurance if you use your job.

Under previous rules, workers had to be a member of a fund for 12 months before they could receive the insurance, and needed to have worked at least 80 hours per month for at least six months beforehand to be eligible.

Now, workers only need to have worked a minimum of 60 hours per month, and will be entitled for compensation after only three months as a member. The reason is that many of the people hit by the lay-offs caused by the coronavirus outbreak were in precarious employment, such as seasonal or part-time work.

The salary cap and minimum amount have also both been temporarily raised. This means that for the first 100 days, the maximum amount will be raised from 910 kronor to 1,200 kronor per day. 

“More people will be covered by a-kassa than before, and it benefits those who have a weaker tie to the labour market,” said Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson told media.

“More will also be able to keep a larger part of their salary if they become unemployed, since the ceiling for how much you can get per day is raised, as is the lowest possible subsidy. It's about increasing security for people, but there can also be benefits for the economy to do this in this situation,” she said. 

To fund these changes, the unemployment insurance funds will receive extra resources to handle the anticipated higher caseload.

There are several different unemployment insurance funds in Sweden, some attached to specific unions or professions and others open to a wide range of workers.

Other measures in the 11-billion kronor package include extra support for the Public Employment Service, and more funds for training and educational services for those who need to retrain in order to re-enter the labour market.

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