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This is what you need to know if you want to teach in Sweden

If you are a teacher in Sweden or you want to begin working as a teacher in Sweden, you should get in touch with one of the teaching unions.

If you are a teacher in Sweden or you want to begin working as a teacher in Sweden, you should get in touch with one of the teaching unions.

Are you working or planning to work as a teacher in Sweden? Here you will find useful information about the Swedish model, the collective agreement and your employee rights.

Below is a summary of your rights as an employed teacher, a crash course in how the collective agreement in Sweden works plus a collection of useful links for English-speaking teachers living in Sweden.

The Swedish model

Sweden is one of the countries with the highest level of unionisation in the world. In Sweden, the trade unions play a major role and many people see collective agreements and being a union member as a natural part of working life. Here, the unions strive to build good relations with the employers, in order to jointly negotiate employment conditions, which are then written into a collective agreement for the employees. This is known as the Swedish model. Many workplaces also have union representatives or union branches working to ensure that your employment conditions are maintained at local level.

If you are a teacher in Sweden or if you want to begin working as a teacher in Sweden, you should get in touch with one of the teaching unions. Here at Lärarförbundet, the Swedish Teachers' Union, we can help you check that your conditions as a teacher are correct and that you enjoy the employment conditions to which you are entitled.

Collective agreements

A collective agreement is a written agreement between your trade union and your employer/employer organization that covers all employees in the area to which the agreement applies. The employer is usually affiliated to an employers’ organisation, and for municipal schools this is the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting, SKL). However, many private and independent schools are affiliated to Almega Tjänsteföretagen – the Employers’ Organisation for the Swedish Service Sector or Almega – Competence agencies of Sweden. There are several other employers’ organisations that have signed different collective agreements with Lärarförbundet.

In most cases, teachers in Sweden are employed either by the municipality or by independent schools. The collective agreement is binding and forms the basis for your employment conditions. Under the agreement, the union and the employers have agreed on terms that lie outside the statutory terms.

Once a collective agreement has been signed, it applies to all employees in the particular area, irrespective of union membership. There are both central collective agreements that apply to everyone in the area in Sweden, and local ones that may only apply to relevant employees at one company or even just one school. The fact that teachers in Sweden are part of a trade union that negotiates the teachers’ employment conditions makes teachers as employees and wage earners a stronger force in dealing with their employer.

How the collective agreement works

A collective agreement is a written agreement between your trade union and your employer/employer organization. The agreement governs rights and obligations in the workplace. All the benefits and rights agreed collectively are automatically included in your employment agreement. The collective agreement also means that for the benefit of you and your co-workers your union representative is guaranteed insight and influence through union negotiations, for example ahead of more important decisions and changes. The agreements guard against discrimination and ensure better compensation in the event of illness, death and accidents at work.

Your agreement may look different depending on the employer

Teachers working for independent schools are covered by different collective agreements to those for municipal employees. Check which collective agreements apply at your place of work. Teachers employed at Sweden's third largest private company of schools, Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES), are covered not only by the central collective agreement with Almega Tjänsteföretagen, but also by a couple of local collective agreements that apply solely within this company.

If you are working at IES you can download your collective agreement as a pdf file on this page.

Collective agreements and employment conditions at municipal schools

The collective agreement HÖK 12 covers teachers, preschool teachers, teachers at leisure-time centres, study and careers advisors and school heads at preschools, preschool classes, leisure-time centres, compulsory schools, upper secondary schools, municipal adult education, municipal schools of arts, county council folk high schools, and compulsory and upper secondary schools for individuals with intellectual disabilities, etcetera run by the municipalities.

What is governed by the agreement?

Your agreement governs your working hours, holiday entitlement and the annual salary revision process, together with your individual agreement. Other conditions are also determined by your collective agreement, such as pension, salary during (longer) sick leave, salary above the national regulation regarding parental leave. It is important to understand that salaries should be set individually, and differentiated due to e.g. experience, performance, etc. The differences should not, naturally, be set in a discriminatory fashion.

Always contact our membership service, Kontakten, at 0770-33 03 03, before signing an agreement with a new employer.

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