New committee report on amendments to the Employment Protection Act

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Published 22 June 2020
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On 1 June 2020, the committee report “En moderniserad arbetsrätt” (SOU 2020:30) was handed over to the Swedish Government. The report includes proposals for amendments to the Employment Protection Act (SFS 1982:80). It is proposed that the amendments enter into force on 1 January 2022.

Some of the proposed amendments are listed below, in short:

Extended exemptions from the rules on priority

According to the Employment Protection Act, a termination of employment requires objective grounds for termination, either personal reasons or redundancy. If there is redundancy at hand, the employer is obliged to apply certain rules on priority. According to the current legislation, an employer with a maximum of ten employees may exempt two employees from the list of priority, provided that they are of particular importance for the employer’s business. This means that these exempted employees are prioritized for continued employment.

It is proposed that the rules on priority will be amended. It is proposed that the employer may exempt five employees from the list of priority, regardless of the number of employees in total. The above-mentioned requirement that these employees are of particular importance for the employer’s business will continue to apply. If this proposal will enter into force, it will entail a greater flexibility for employees in a redundancy situation.

Shortened qualification period for the right of priority for re-employment for employees with a general fixed-term employment

The right of priority for re-employment entails that the employee during a certain period is entitled to be offered a vacant position with the employer. An employee whose employment has been terminated due to redundancy, is entitled to right of priority for re-employment. According to the current legislation, employees employed for a fixed-term who have been employed for a total of twelve months during the last three years, are entitled to priority for re-employment.

It is proposed that employees with a general fixed-term employment (Sw. allmän visstidsanställning) shall be entitled to a shortened qualification period for the right of priority for re-employment, of nine months during the last three years.

Exemptions from the rules on declaring a termination of employment invalid

According to the current legislation, an employee may claim that a termination of employment or summary dismissal shall be declared invalid by the court. Following the claim, the employment will continue in force during the dispute and the employee is entitled to his or her salary.

It is proposed to include a new exemption from the rules on declaring a termination of employment or summary dismissal invalid. Such declaration shall not apply if the employer at the time of the termination or the summary dismissal has a total of 15 employees and provided that the legal grounds for the claim is that termination or summary dismissal is in breach of the Employment Protection Act. Hence, it will still be possible to claim a declaration of a termination of employment or summary dismissal being invalid based on it being in breach of other legislation, e.g. the Discrimination Act.

If the employer is in breach of the Employment Protection Act in any situation where the new exemption rule would have applied, the damages for the employee’s loss shall be equivalent to eight monthly salaries.

An obligation for employers to offer skills development

Lastly, it is proposed to include an entirely new clause, which prescribes that the employer to a reasonable extent shall offer the employee skills development during the employment. The employer shall assess whether it is considered reasonable to offer skills development. The obligation arises when the total time of employment has exceeded six months.