- Labour Markets and Employment Policy series
Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly
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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