The Swedish Part Model can be summarised in one word - collaboration. It involves unions and employers' organisations jointly agreeing on the best conditions in the labour market, without the government interfering in every decision. Those who are the closest to the issues, make the decisions for their respective labour market. And that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Who else is better suited to discuss a particular labour market than those who actually work in it? That’s The Swedish Part Model. And ultimately, it leads to happy and creative people in the workplace, while providing opportunities for flexibility to employers. A real win-win, so to speak
The collective agreement constitutes a large part of The Swedish Part Model. It is a result of the important negotiations that take place between unions and employers' organisations and can include agreements on salaries, employer pension, insurances, annual leave days and much more. The agreement applies for both the employer and the employees during a certain number of years and is in that period binding and covers all employees in a workplace whether you are a union member or not. During the period all industrial action is forbidden for the parties.
The Swedish Part Model has been declared dead many times. But it still lives on. Like never before. Mostly because of the models ability to deliver desired results. With the model as a foundation, it has been possible to combine rising living standards and improved life opportunities for the majority of the population, with ever-increasing efficiency and high profitability in business. Collective agreements have solved a lot of questions on the labour market for over a hundred years. With a system where the two partners themselves set the conditions on the labour market, it will continue to resolve issues in the future as well. We are extremely confident about that.
A calculated value of the collective agreement is rounded to $12 000 per year for employees in ordinary income positions that are members of the TCO unions. In that agreement you can for example find parental leave pay, overtime pay, health care contributions, pension, travel allowance and annual leave days. It's easy to take these things for granted, but they have actually been negotiated for. Employers doesn’t have to agree on these benefits, but many see the perks in providing good conditions to one of the most important resources in the company - the employees. If they’re doing well, it increases the possibility for the company to do well. It’s that simple.
In Sweden, all employees are entitled to vacation, thanks to the Annual Leave Act. The act includes five weeks of vacation per year, with the right to four weeks continuous leave during the summer period of June to August. Collective agreements in the workplace often provide even more leave. Two months before the start of the vacation, the employees should know which weeks they have received, and once they are set, the employer may not withdraw or change them. The employer and local union representatives negotiates on exactly when during the summer period that the vacation days are levied.
An important thing most people don’t think much about is the pension - the future salary. And it can come from several places. For simplicity reasons, one can resemble it to a pyramid with three parts, where the national pension from the National Pension Authority sets the foundation. At workplaces that have a collective agreement, the employer pays a certain amount for the next building block - the employer pension. Exactly how much varies based on salary, how long you work and where you work. The employer pension may constitute a very large part of the future pension, depending on what your career looked like. The last part consists of possible private pension savings that many Swedes choose to add. Together they form the total pension.
All parents in Sweden have the legal right to take time off to care for their child, without the risk of losing their job. To be able to be at home with their children instead of working, parents receive a parental benefit.
Altogether, you get paid for 480 days per child, and these days can be taken out up until the child has completed the first year of primary school. If the child is born in 2014 or later it applies up until the year it turns 12, or finishes fifth grade. However, no more than 96 days can be taken out after the child’s fourth birthday, according to the new four year limit. If the child has two parents, they are both entitled to share the days equally, but can be transfered to each other except for the 60 days that are reserved for each parent. There is also a gender equality bonus that increases the fewer days you choose to transfer. The collective agreement doesn’t control the parental insurance but is often seen as the icing on the cake. For example, there are agreements that provide parental salary or parental allowance - a compensation paid by the employer. The employer tops up the parental benefit for a certain number of months, which reinforces the parental allowance from the Social Insurance Agency. This way, the collective agreement between employers and unions contributes to a more equal use parental leave since the loss of income becomes smaller.
Health care benefits from the employer are not statutory in Sweden, but is something every employer can decide to offer their employees. The benefit includes various fitness activities outside of work, such as gym memberships or relaxing massages. If you have a health care allowance at your workplace it’s usually due to your local union who has pursued the issue, or that the benefit is regulated by a local collective agreement. If the local union in your workplace and the members believe that wellness is an important issue, they can use their right to influence at work, and often make a change. Exactly how much the allowance should cover is not regulated, but usually equals the cost of a gym membership in the region.
Industrial peace is pretty much what it sounds like. Peace at work. Or, if explained in more colloquial terms - the absence of labor disputes concerning working conditions. It can be achieved in many ways, one of them being the use of a collective agreement. The contract period actually prohibits strikes as well as lockouts. If you compare the Swedish labour market to the rest of the world, you’ll find it quite peaceful. And maybe it’s not really much of a surprise. Thanks to the Swedish part model and the structured collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organisations, there are pretty few strike days in Sweden.
A workplace with a collective agreement is kind of a safety net, for both parties. There is extensive support systems and procedures to handle all kinds of situations that are also regulated in the collective agreement. For example, if the employer and the trade union fail to reach an agreement on their own, they can seek support and mediation from their organisations. Another advantage is that it’s possible to agree on a different order than ”last in, first out”. If there should arise a situation when a company needs to lay off staff and have employees who possess a unique set of skills, but are also the last in order of priority based on years of employment, the company can sign a so-called contractual timetable where skills and expertise precedes the number of years at the workplace.
Most people prefer not to argue, but sometimes conflicts do arise. Even in the workplace. It is in everyone’s interest to resolve the conflict as soon as possible, but in order to succeed you have to know how to go about it. In the collective agreement you can therefore find rules on how to handle situations that may arise if the employer and the employees disagree on one, or several, things. And the rules applies both in a micro and macro perspective - in the local agreement, but also in the centralized negotiations that are made for the entire industry’s collective agreement.
Every company wants to develop and improve, but no company is stronger than its weakest link. And the less an employee has to say, the more it weakens their creativity, working ability and in the long run, the contribution to the profitability. That’s why it’s important to see and hear what everyone at the workplace thinks in order to move forward. That benefit is provided by the collective agreement and is called co-decision, and it applies to both trade unions and the employees. Co-decision creates opportunities for everyone in the workplace to make suggestions about improvements concerning not only the business but also the productivity. The involvement of the employees may also be a competent addition to the board and management teams. This way, the collective agreement contributes to the company’s development, in every way!
Just knowing that there is someone that can help you through thick and thin is comforting for most people. And that someone is an employers’ organisation. Well, at least if you’re running a business.
There you will find professional advice and support in all sorts of questions. For example, do you need tips and advice when setting the salaries? They can probably give you detailed salary statistics for your specific industry. The employers’ organisation have expertise in a lot of areas such as employment law, human resources, business law, work environment, insurances, discrimination, wage formation and many more. It’s simply something really good to have by your side. Under the ”Organisations” tab you can find an employers’ organisation that suits your business.
Here you can find your trade unions.
Here you can find your employers' organisations.
Idea – Arbetsgivareförbundet för ideella organisationer.
Kommunala Företagens Samorganisation (KFS)
ME – organisationen för landets företagare med anläggningsmaskiner
Svenska kyrkans arbetsgivarorganisation
Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting (SKL).
Sveriges Skorstensfejaremästares Riksförbund
Like a Swede is an initiative from TCO (tco.se), a trade union confederation, in order to get more Swedes aware about the unique model that distinguishes Sweden, and its neighbouring countries, from almost every other country in the world. It’s called the Swedish part model and is a collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organisations.
Together, they negotiate conditions on the Swedish labour market, and the outcome are the collective agreements that holds loads of benefits for both employees and employers. But not all Swedes knows that it is thanks to the Swedish part model we have a healthy and effective work environment. Even though it has existed for over seventy years. That’s why we want to shed some light on this unique model.
You can find all the information you need on this site. And probably don’t need, but can come in handy if you want to show off during a Sunday quiz with the in-laws.
Here you can see the film ”Like a Swede” that we did last year. It’s about Joe, a wealthy american living ”like a Swede” i.e. enjoying the benefits that only the Swedish part model can provide you. Because unlike many other places in the world, anyone in Sweden can enjoy the same benefits that are usually only available to the very richest in other countries.