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Regulating Working-Time Transitions in Europe

Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly

This book provides an overview of the institutional arrangements affecting labour market transitions through different working-time arrangements in seven European countries. It examines the extent to which social integration through transitional labour markets is possible, assesses the effects of labour market transitions, and prescribes improvements, with the aim of preventing the development of social exclusion from paid employment.
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Chapter 2: Working-time transitions in Sweden

Dominique Anxo and Donald Storrie


Dominique Anxo and Donald Storrie In common with many industrial countries, both statutory and actual working hours have decreased appreciably in Sweden over the last three decades. One salient feature of working-time policy during this period was the creation of conditions for greater flexibility in individual working time over the life cycle while preserving firms’ competitiveness. Such a policy could not succeed without a broad and active cooperation between the social partners. This move towards a negotiated flexibility as part of an economic policy which rejects social exclusion and employment insecurity has been one of the focal points of working-time policy in Sweden (Anxo and O´Reilly, 2000). While working time has been a key component of Swedish welfare policy, governments and the social partners have consistently refused to consider an across-the-board reduction of working time as an effective means of combating unemployment. Not only is working-time policy a major component of family policy, with some of the most highly developed and flexible parental leave entitlements in Europe, it is also seen as a means to promote equal gender opportunities and the ability to vary (modulate) individual working time over the life cycle has without doubt contributed to the marked rise in female labour force participation. The objective of this chapter is primarily to describe the institutional setup under which working-time arrangements and transitions occur in Sweden. The first part of the chapter examines Swedish working-time regulation, in particular the interrelation between statutory and contractual regulation of working time....

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