Swedish government plans to bring back shortage test for work permits

The Local Sweden
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Swedish government plans to bring back shortage test for work permits
Migration minister Anders Ygeman at Thursday's press conference. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Sweden's government has announced plans to further tighten labour migration, bringing back a requirement that workers recruited overseas are filling in for domestic labour shortages.


"We need order in the Swedish labour market," Anders Ygeman, Sweden's migration minister, said announcing the plans at a press conference on Thursday. "Sweden should not compete with low wages and bad working conditions".

The government now wants to introduce so-called arbetsmarknadsprövning, a system scrapped in 2008 where prospective labour migrants wanting to work in Sweden will only have their work permits approved if they are filling a position where there is a national shortage.


The change comes on top of new tighter rules due to come in on June 1st, which will require work permit applicants to have a job contract before a permit can be granted. 

READ ALSO: How could a new shortage test for work permits impact foreigners in Sweden?

If arbetsmarknadsprövning is brought back, the availability of work permits will be dependent on unions, employers, and other authorities confirming that they lack staff in the profession in question.

The new proposals will also mean employers will have to report details of job applications to the Migration Agency, as well as informing the agency if the terms of employment become worse.

The government has not yet submitted a proposal to reintroduce arbetsmarknadsprövning.

Instead, it has started the process of launching an investigation into how policy on arbetsmarknadsprövning could be reintroduced, with the goal of combatting "wage dumping", a situation in which wages are offered at a level much lower than what is normal in the industry, usually to foreign workers brought in specifically for the job.

READ ALSO: How will the new work permit law just passed in Sweden affect foreigners?

The investigation is expected to be launch before the summer, after which it will run for a year, meaning it would be unlikely that any change would come into force before the end of 2023.

The government said it hoped that arbetsmarknadsprövning would combat exploitation of labour migrants and reduce the level of abuse of the work permit system.

Unions and other authorities have been arguing that the current legislation is not sufficient, as it is easily exploited by organised crime.



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