Employment Protection, Unemployment Compensation and Activation in Europe
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Paul de Beer and Trudie Schils
Chapter 2: Sweden
Eskil Wadensjö INTRODUCTION Swedish labour market policy has a tradition of relying on collective agreements between employers’ associations and trade unions and on active labour market policy. The work principle has guided the formulation of active labour market policies. Passive labour market policy – unemployment insurance – was introduced relatively late and was not very generous at the start. The trade unions and the employers’ associations developed rapidly in the early twentieth century and reached an agreement on respecting collective agreements in 1938, known as Saltsjöbadsavtalet (Edlund et al. 1989). In 1928, rules regarding collective agreements were legislated and a special court for conflicts regarding the interpretation of collective agreements was founded, the Arbetsdomstolen. During the Second World War the labour market was regulated in various ways as part of the mobilization efforts but the regulations were dismantled after the war. The state did not intervene to any major extent in the labour market up to the 1970s. In the 1970s various labour laws were introduced, however. The most important was the Job Security Law (LAS). This law stated rules for lay-offs. The principle of ‘last in, first out’ was established, but with the possibility for employers to reach agreements with the trade unions on exceptions to this rule. There have only been minor changes in labour legislation since the 1970s. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE The first trade union unemployment insurance societies in Sweden emerged in the late nineteenth century. They were not supported by the state. For the unemployed who were not...
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