Are you working or planning to work as a teacher in Sweden? Here you will find useful information about the Swedish model of social dialogue, collective agreements and your rights as an employee.
The Swedish Model
Sweden has one of the highest levels of unionisation in the world. In Sweden, the trade unions play an important role and many people see collective agreements and union membership as natural parts of working life. The combination of labour laws and social dialogue where collective agreements are negotiated between employers and unions in each sector is often referred to as the Swedish Model.
A collective agreement is a written agreement between your trade union and your employer/employer organisation and covers all employees working in the sector to which the agreement applies. Teachers in Sweden are, in most cases, employed either by the municipality or by independently run schools. The employer is usually affiliated to an employers’ organisation. Municipalities are affiliated to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions -SALAR (Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner - SKR in Swedish). Many employers within the independent school sector are affiliated to the Employers’ Organisation for the Swedish Service Sector – Almega. Several other employers’ organisations have also signed collective agreements with Lärarförbundet. Teachers working for independent schools are covered by different collective agreements to those for municipal employees. Check which collective agreement applies at your place of work. You can read the HÖK 18-agreement and the Almega agreement in brief.
Collective agreements are binding and form the basis for employment conditions, along with labour laws. There are central collective agreements negotiated at a national level, and local agreements that may improve the nationally-agreed conditions. A local agreement can be negotiated on a municipality level, a company level or even on an individual school level. Individual salaries and professional development plans are determined following dialogue between the teacher and the head teacher. You can also receive information and support from Lärarförbundet on an individual level.
How Collective Agreements Work
These govern 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 dialogue and collective bargaining, for example in advance of significant decisions and changes in the workplace or the sector. The agreements guard against discrimination in the workplace and ensure compensation in the event of illness, death and accidents at work.
Collective agreements and employment conditions at municipal schools
The collective agreement with SALAR (SKR) covers teachers, head teachers, study and careers advisors in municipal preschools, preschool classes, leisure time centres, compulsory schooling, upper-secondary schools, municipal adult education, municipal arts schools, county council folk high schools, and compulsory and upper secondary schools for pupils with special needs, etc.
What is covered by the collective agreements?
The collective agreement governs working hours, holiday entitlement and the annual salary review process, along with your individual agreement. Other conditions are also determined by collective agreements, such as pension, salary during (longer periods of) sick leave and salary above national regulations during parental leave. It is important to understand that salaries are set individually and may differ due to factors such as experience, level of responsibility and performance. These differences should never be due to discrimination against an individual teacher or group of teachers.
If you are already a teacher in Sweden or if you want to start work as a teacher in Sweden, you are welcome to get in touch with Lärarförbundet. We can help you check that you have the correct employment conditions to which you are entitled as a teacher. We urge you to contact Lärarförbundet before signing any employment agreement.
You are welcome to contact Lärarförbundet’s membership service Kontakten to discuss any questions you may have.
From Sweden: 0770 33 03 03
From abroad: +46 770 33 03 03