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Europe Guide

Employment — Sweden

Overview

The Swedish labour law model

Significant for the Swedish labour law model is that it is almost exclusively founded upon civil rules. By tradition, the Swedish legislature is only responsible for a minor part of the regulations on the labour market and the observance of statutory regulations. The vast majority of the regulations are instead established through collective bargain agreements (“CBA”), entered into between an employer or employers’ organisation and a trade union. The Swedish labour market is characterised by self-regulation by the parties on the market, where CBAs play an important role.

Almost 90% of all employers in Sweden are members of an employer’s organisation, and since most of the larger companies in Sweden are members of different employers’ organisations, almost 90% of all employees in Sweden are also covered by terms and conditions of various CBAs. The high level of participation on the Swedish labour market is the basis of the co-determination between employees and trade unions and employers and employers’ organisations.

A CBA is binding on all employers and individuals that are members of the organisation that has concluded the CBA. Further, an employer which is bound by a CBA is required to practise its regulations in relation to all employees occupied with work that is covered by that CBA. Contrary to systems in other European countries, there is no system in Sweden for making CBAs generally applicable (i.e. there is no procedure for enhancing a CBA to law).

There is no legal obligation for an employer to enter into a CBA. However, a trade union that wishes to enter into a CBA may under certain circumstances have a right to take industrial action against a company to try and conclude a CBA.

Issues related to conducting business activities in Sweden and the posting of workers in Sweden

The requirements for a foreign company to conduct business activities in Sweden are set out in the Swedish Foreign Branches Act (the “FBA”). According to provisions in the FBA, a foreign company must conduct its business activities in Sweden in one of the three ways: through a branch office, a Swedish subsidiary or an agency with operations in Sweden. If that obligation is not observed, fines may be imposed.

There are several different statutory obligations for a foreign company conducting business activities in Sweden. Branch offices are subject to provisions in the FBA and Swedish subsidiaries to provisions under different Swedish corporate statutes. There is also bookkeeping, accounting and financial reporting legislation to comply with.

Depending on whether a foreign company is deemed to have a permanent establishment in Sweden (according to Swedish tax legislation), different provisions regarding, inter alia, income tax and employer’s contributions may apply. A foreign enterprise may be deemed to have a permanent establishment in Sweden even when there is no fixed place in Sweden from where its business operations are carried out, such as when the business operations in Sweden are carried out through a dependent agent.

The above specified obligations in the FBA do not apply if the foreign company is posting employees in Sweden on a temporary basis. A posting is conducted when a foreign employer is using its employees in order to conduct services for another company in Sweden. In such cases, the Swedish Posted Workers’ Act (the “PWA”), which incorporates the different EU Directives concerning the posting of workers, is then applicable.

A foreign employer has to report the posting of employees in Sweden, along with certain information concerning the posting, to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. If that obligation is not observed, the Work Environment Authority could impose a fine on the foreign employer.

If a foreign employee is posted in Sweden, the PWA lists a number of Swedish statutory provisions (known as the "core obligations"), which the foreign employer must comply with, irrespective of under which legislation the employment relationship otherwise should be assessed. The core obligations include, inter alia, regulations on number of paid vacation days and working hours.

Several amendments to the PWA entered into force on 1st June 2017, whereof the following are of particular importance. A trade union’s right to take industrial action against an employer in order to regulate the terms and conditions for posted workers through a CBA has been expanded. Industrial action may be taken under certain conditions in order for a trade union to conclude a so-called “Posting CBA”, regulating the terms and conditions related to the core obligations under the PWA. A trade union has the possibility to demand a Posting CBA, even if the minimum terms and conditions achieved through a CBA do not differ from the terms and conditions already applied by the foreign employer. The provisions in a Posting CBA shall be applied in relation to all posted employees conducting work covered by the Posting CBA, irrespective of whether they are bound by the Posting CBA by means of membership in a trade union or not. The employer’s duty to supply the trade union with certain information and documentation regarding the posting and the posted employees has also been amplified.

News within Swedish labour and employment law

On 1st January 2017, new procurement legislation entered into force in Sweden as an effect of the EU Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement. As of 1st June 2017, the legislation has been supplemented by provisions concerning a contracting entity’s duty to demand the supplier to fulfil certain employment conditions within procurement. If deemed necessary, a contracting entity shall require the supplier to observe specific terms and conditions concerning salary, vacation and working hours when performing the contract.

On 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters into force in all member states of the European Union. The current Swedish Personal Data Act will hereby be reversed and replaced with new supplementary provisions to GDPR. In the government bill concerning the supplementary provisions there is a proposed provision limiting the exception in article 9.2 (b) in GDPR, regarding the processing of special categories of personal data in the field of employment. Such data may be disclosed to a third party only if the data controller has an obligation on disclosure under employment law, or if the data subject has explicitly agreed to disclosure.

With effect from 1st January 2017, there is an increased responsibility under the Swedish Anti-Discrimination Act for an employer to take proactive measures in order to prevent and support efforts to stop discrimination, and to otherwise work to attain equal rights and possibilities in the workplace. An employer is also required to have guidelines and routines for the operations aimed at preventing, inter alia, sexual harassments. The implemented provisions regarding proactive measures coincided with the so called #metoo-movement in the latter part of 2017, which highlighted a widespread social problem of sexual harassment against women in the workplace. The movement received great media attention, both in Sweden and abroad. The movement shed additional light on statutory duties under the Swedish Anti-Discrimination Act to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and to take actions to prevent such harassments in the future.

During 2017, the Swedish Labour Court further developed its case law regarding restrictive covenants within employment relationships (i.e. restrictions on competition and solicitation of the former employer’s customers and manpower). The Court has adopted a restrictive approach to restrictions on competition, entailing that only an employee with knowledge of trade or manufacturing secrets may be subject to such restrictions. Further, restrictions may not extend beyond what is reasonable, neither in scope nor in length, and the employee bound by the restriction must receive compensation for the inconvenience.

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Advokatfirman Cederquist KB - Employment Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Excellent practice offering a full range of employment services, including restructuring and transfer of business. Frequently advises clients from the banking, media and telecommunications sectors on these issues, as well as high-level employment contracts and redundancies. Receives particular praise for its considerable employment litigation expertise, representing a wide range of clients in high-profile litigation cases.

Strengths Clients appreciate that "on top of their legal ability the lawyers are able to gear advice towards our business."

Other clients praise the team as being "very skilled and solution-oriented, able to give hands-on advice and suggest alternatives based on their solid in-depth knowledge."

Work highlights Represented Lagans Byggnads in an employment dispute against a former managing director, related to breach of loyalty and unauthorised use of trade secrets.

Assisted Activision Blizzard with the reorganisation of its Swedish offices, including drafting termination letters, as well as providing the company with ongoing employment law advice.

Notable practitioners

Clients praise Robert Stromberg as always being "responsive, constructive and problem-solving," adding that his "deep knowledge and extensive experience" ensures clients "always get help and solutions." He has a wealth of experience advising on employment, pensions and incentive matters, as well as acting on contentious mandates. He recently represented PwC in a dispute with a former regional manager concerning a breach of non-competition and non-solicitation clauses.

Jens Tillqvist has long-standing experience assisting clients with day-to-day employment matters, including redundancies and contracts. He also often represents clients in employment disputes. His recent work includes advising Gullringsbo and Svenska Hus on a case against their former management regarding a violation of the Trade Secrets Act.

About the Team (content provided by Advokatfirman Cederquist KB)

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Hamilton Advokatbyrå - Employment Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Outstanding practice, providing clients with advice on a range of mandates, from corporate restructuring and regulatory assistance to employment litigation. Regularly acts on employment issues at management level. Additionally advises on pension schemes and incentive programmes and provides an ongoing service for clients in connection with day-to-day employment queries.

Strengths In praising the capacity of the firm, one client reports they are "very satisfied with its services."

Another source praises the firm's "good knowledge of the reality we work in."

Notable practitioners

Interviewees note that Tom Johansson has "extensive experience in employment matters." He advises clients on employment contracts, staff reductions and business transfer issues. He also has expertise in contentious mandates related to employment disputes in the Swedish Labour Courts.

Head of department Erik Danhard is a seasoned employment adviser, with a particular focus on negotiating collective agreements. Clients praise him as being "very skilled and service-minded," adding that he always provides a solution to problems. He also has experience acting as an arbitrator and a mediator in employment disputes.

About the Team (content provided by Hamilton Advokatbyrå)

”As a law firm we are both a supplement and an alternative to the regular players on the Swedish labour market.”- Erik Danhard, partner

Labour law and legal advice on labour law is often critical to a business. It also involves complex legal aspects. As a law firm we are both a supplement and an alternative to the regular parties on the Swedish labour market. A substantial portion of our business comprises assisting clients before courts and in arbitrations.

We advise Swedish and foreign companies, public authorities and organisations on issues of:

  • Reorganisations, M&A and outsourcing
  • Advise and negotiation support for collective bargaining
  • Recruitment, terminations and HR support
  • Bonus schemes and other incentive schemes
  • Trade secrets
  • Liability aspects of delegation and workplace safety

Our labour law specialists are among the most experienced in Sweden. They have extensive experience in employment related dispute resolutions from courts, labour market organisations and from law firms. They also often give lectures at universities, for private educators and to clients. As a result, they are well equipped to deliver effective, correct, fast and personal advice in the specific environment of the Swedish labour market.

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Mannheimer Swartling - Employment Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Admirable practice lauded for its assistance with a full range of transactional and advisory employment and pension law issues. Benefits from substantial corporate and dispute resolution teams to provide clients with a full range of services. Acts for domestic and international clients on litigious and arbitral proceedings. Highly experienced in trade union consultations and restructuring mandates, as well as redundancies and dismissals.

Strengths Clients appreciate that the lawyers "understand our business and are quick and efficient."

Work highlights Advised ABB on employment aspects of the sale of its high-voltage cable business.

Assisted Munters with employment issues relating to its listing on Nasdaq Stockholm.

Notable practitioners

Clients describe Anders Nordström as being "very smooth and efficient," adding that it is "a great pleasure co-operating with him." He has a wealth of experience advising on a range of employment law issues, including acting on litigation and arbitration. He recently represented PwC in a dispute regarding a breach of non-compete obligations.

Henric Diefke is described by sources as an "extremely skilled" lawyer. He is a respected figure acting on a broad range of matters including reorganisations, transfer of business and pensions, as well as regularly advising on contentious mandates. His recent work includes assisting IKEA with its cross-border divestment of 25 shopping centres around Europe.

About the Team (content provided by Mannheimer Swartling)

Mannheimer Swartling advises on the full range of legal matters that its clients face. As the largest law firm in the Nordic region, the firm offers both the scope and the scale required to handle the most demanding projects. And operating as a true lockstep firm ensures that its collective experience and expertise is available to every assignment. 

Clients from all areas of the private and public sectors turn to the firm for counsel of exceptional quality. Clients include distinguished companies and organisations in Sweden and around the world. The firm’s approximately 400 lawyers are specialised in different areas of business law and industries. Meaning that they understand their clients’ commercial challenges, while having the legal expertise to find the optimal solutions. 

The firm’s fundamental objective is to always surpass the expectations of its clients. Thus it’s aim is to recruit, keep and develop the most passionate legal talent. This business model is founded on the team spirit which is deeply rooted in the firm’s corporate culture.


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Advokatfirman Vinge KB - Employment Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Substantial practice, well regarded for acting on behalf of clients in employment-related litigation. Further expertise includes advising on employment matters relating to M&A transactions, pension questions, remuneration and incentive schemes. Acts for an enviable range of international and domestic clients on cross-border issues, offering expertise on several industry sectors, including transportation and telecommunications. Evidensia Djursjukvård is among the team's new client wins.

Strengths Clients praise the "high-quality service" offered by the team and add that "the advice is robust."

Other clients add that "they are good at handling complicated situations" and "they are very good at negotiations."

Work highlights Represented APM Terminals in negotiations with the Dockworkers Union regarding the creation of a new collective bargaining agreement.

Notable practitioners

The "fantastic" Fredrik Dahl is described as "pragmatic and extremely good at explaining." He specialises in M&A-related employment law, assisting clients with corporate reorganisations, dismissals and discrimination issues.

Charlotte Forssander has particular expertise in contentious labour matters, having recently represented QQFS in a dispute against former employees and their new company regarding an alleged theft of information. Clients say that "she is very knowledgeable and quickly understands the issues," with other clients adding that "she is very supportive" and communicates very clearly.

About the Team (content provided by Advokatfirman Vinge KB)

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Baker McKenzie - Employment Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Strong practice acting on employment aspects of M&A transactions. Draws on long-standing international experience through the firm's considerable network. Lauded for the full service it offers both Swedish and cross-border clients.

Strengths Clients praise the "very responsive and thorough" department, also highlighting the lawyers' good availability.

Notable practitioners

Sten Bauer advises on a range of employment issues including executive recruitment, terminations and benefits. He has further experience acting for clients in collective redundancy proceedings and in employment-related litigation.

Johan Zetterström frequently advises clients on individual terminations and collective redundancies. He also assists with employment matters related to M&A transactions, outsourcing and work environment matters, as well as discrimination disputes.

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DLA Piper - Employment Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Frequently assists international clients with Swedish labour law issues and cross-border matters. Particularly active representing clients in employment disputes, as well as having experience in relation to data privacy and reorganisation procedures. Also assists with employment aspects of corporate restructurings and M&A transactions. Advises a broad range of clients, including financial institutions, as well as companies from the engineering and healthcare sectors.

Strengths One client appreciates that the lawyers are "very knowledgeable and answer queries in a timely manner."

Another source praises the team's "effective communication."

Work highlights Advised employees of SAS on a dispute against their trade union in connection with the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.

Assisted OFR with litigation relating to salary benefits in a national collective bargaining agreement.

Notable practitioners

Clients say that Mats Borgström's "high level of experience" instils trust in his advice. As head of the practice, he advises both domestic and international clients on a range of corporate employment matters, as well as acting on contentious cases. He represented the Swedish Building Workers' Union in a dispute regarding the right to take industrial action.

Johan Sundberg is appreciated by clients for always being "very reliable and efficient." He has a particular expertise advising on data privacy matters as well as acting for clients in reorganisations. He is further praised by clients for being "very knowledgeable and experienced in his subject area," which includes a specific knowledge of the life sciences sector.

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Elmzell Advokatbyrå AB - Employment Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Boutique employment law firm which frequently represents clients in trade union negotiations and employment litigation, including dismissal cases. Also advises employers on ongoing issues and assists in-house HR teams. Acts on employment matters across a range of industries, including education and telecommunications.

Strengths In praising their "very good experience with the firm," clients note that "they managed to give us very good advice which was also easy for us to follow in our daily business."

Work highlights Advised Andy's Lekland on employment matters relating to the transfer of employees to another business, and the closure of other centres.

Represented ROCKWOOL in a case against a former employee regarding a non-competition obligation.

Notable practitioners

Founding partner Lars Hartzell is a seasoned employment adviser for domestic and international clients. He assists with employment litigation, restructuring and negotiations with trade unions.

Interviewees have noted that Jenny Hellberg does "a very good job for her clients." She advises domestic and international clients on day-to-day employment matters. She additionally acts on contentious matters, representing clients in employment disputes.

About the Team (content provided by Elmzell Advokatbyrå AB)

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Setterwalls - Employment Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Highly regarded for its advice on a range of employment matters, including reorganisations, large termination cases and employment disputes, as well as providing day-to-day advice for companies across Europe. Has offices in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, offering clients ease of access to advice across the major employment centres of Sweden.

Strengths Clients note that the advice they receive is "very good," adding that they are "very satisfied."

Work highlights Assisted Tingstad with a range of employment matters, including dismissals and non-competition contract violations.

Advised Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the dismissal of one of its managers.

Notable practitioners

Clients laud Dan Bullarbo's ability to "explain legal questions very simply," adding that he is "service-minded and business-oriented." He assists clients with senior executive agreements, terminations and restructurings. His recent work includes advising Hertz on a range of labour law matters, including personal data questions and employment agreements.

According to clients, Åsa Erlandsson "makes law easy to understand and is fast and service-minded throughout the process," adding that she is "extremely result-oriented." Her work covers dismissals and corporate restructurings. She recently represented a ferry operator in litigation concerning the dismissal of two managers.

About the Team (content provided by Setterwalls)

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Bird & Bird - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Substantial international firm offering assistance to clients in employment matters across the Nordic countries. Advises domestic and multinational clients on a range of matters including corporate restructuring, incentive programmes and pensions, as well as offering a particular expertise in immigration-related issues.

Strengths Clients appreciate that the lawyers are "very flexible and give responses quickly."

Other clients add that "the team is experienced and offers many solutions."

Work highlights Advised Lexmark on employment matters arising from multi-jurisdictional restructurings.

Notable practitioners

One client describes Katarina Åhlberg as an "expert on labour law," while another adds that she "always gives excellent advice." She assists with executive contracts, pensions and benefits, as well as offering substantial experience in the employment aspects of international restructurings.

About the Team (content provided by Bird & Bird)

Our stand-alone employment law team offers both our home-grown and world-wide clients a seamless service on all aspects of employment, incentives, pensions and immigration law related matters, including but not limited to HR strategy, pre-divestment restructurings, post-acquisition integration, policy implementation, trade union negotiations, hiring and firing, work environment and disputes.

As part of the only truly integrated international law firm established in Sweden and as an integrated part of Bird & Bird's International HR Services team, our employment law team is frequently mandated to act as lead co-ordinator for a number of our International HR Services team's global clients. Being part of an international firm we are able to offer our clients a seamless cross-border service throughout our 28 offices in 19 countries.

During the year we have continued to successfully assist clients in connection with both local and multi-jurisdictional re-organisations, redundancies and transfers of business, including assisting in local trade union consultations and with employee terminations. The most recent global project managed by our Swedish employment law team encompassed jurisdictions throughout Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

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Delphi - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Offers advice on a broad range of employment law issues including litigation and disputes and business transfers and reorganisations. Also remains active in matters such as whistle-blowing cases, negotiations with trade unions and other day-to-day employment law matters. Summit Motors and HH-Ferries are two recent client wins for the team.

Strengths Sources praise the team as being "efficient and very practical," adding that they "provide an excellent service."

Another interviewee appreciates that "they balance the overall picture with the legal issues."

Notable practitioners

Clients praise Fredrik Nordlöf's "ability to balance the customer's needs and tricky legal issues," adding that "he is pragmatic and solution-oriented." He acts on negotiations with trade unions and is also experienced representing clients in employment litigation and arbitration.

Magnus Berterud advises on a wide range of matters, including reorganisations, redundancies and trade union negotiations. Clients describe him as "excellent and swift to respond with practical, succinct advice."

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Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Advokat KB - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Established team active in both the private and public sector. Particularly noted for its activity in contentious employment matters, representing both domestic and international clients in litigation and arbitration. Also offers advice on non-contentious employment mandates, including pensions, collective redundancies and trade union negotiations.

Strengths Clients highlight that they are "very satisfied" with the team's work.

Notable practitioners

Clients praise Robert Lakatos as "very experienced," adding that "he is solution-oriented." He acts on a broad spectrum of employment mandates and is notably praised for his work in contentious employment cases.

About the Team (content provided by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Advokat KB)

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MAQS Advokatbyrå - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Solid team assisting clients with restructurings, contract negotiations and collective bargaining agreements, as well as employment litigation and arbitration. Has particular experience working with clients from the automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and IT industries. Department recently attracted new clients, including KGH Customs Services.

Strengths Sources praise the "very knowledgeable" lawyers.

Interviewees also highlight the team's "international expertise."

Work highlights Assisted the University of Gothenburg with disciplinary sanctions, terminations and union negotiations.

Advised a film distributor on employment aspects of its corporate restructuring.

Notable practitioners

Torbjörn Lindmark is lauded as being "knowledgeable and business-minded." His practice covers a range of employment advice, including particular experience in pensions law and M&A-related employment matters. He recently assisted with employment aspects of a tax and fraud investigation at a company that produces technical products.

Clients particularly appreciate that Lars Lövgren is "very trustworthy and always quick with responses." His work focuses on executive terminations, restructurings and pensions law. Other clients add that "he is always straight to the point and gets to what is important."

About the Team (content provided by MAQS Advokatbyrå)

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Roschier - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Comprehensive practice, offering substantial experience in a range of employment mandates, particularly issues arising from M&A deals. Also assists with contentious matters. Receives recommendation for its Nordic cross-border capabilities, particularly through collaboration between its offices in Sweden and Finland. Department recently attracted a number of new clients, including Combient and Milvik.

Strengths One client praises the team as being "accurate, straight to the point and nice to work with," noting particularly that "they are extremely reactive, very commercial and the advice is presented in a way that enables us to quickly process it."

Another client highlights that the lawyers are "extremely helpful and make sure we do not miss anything."

Work highlights Advised Sandvik on employment issues arising from the carve-out and sale of Sandvik Process Systems.

Assisted Assemblin with employment and pension issues relating to its acquisition of all shares in Skanska Installation from Skanska.

Notable practitioners

Head of department Jenny Welander Wadström acts for clients on a range of employment and pensions mandates. Clients praise her as being "knowledgeable, very responsive and pleasant to work with." Her recent work includes assisting Atlas Copco with the employment aspects of the sale of its Road Construction Equipment division to Fayat Group.

About the Team (content provided by Roschier)

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Advokatfirman Törngren Magnell KB - Employment Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Established department offering expertise on executive employment issues, collective redundancies and data protection legislation. Further assists clients with transfer of business. Bharat Forge Kilsta is among the team's new client wins.

Strengths One client lauds the "attentive and terrific" lawyers.

Further clients have praised the firm's "very high quality" and "quick and direct responses."

Work highlights Assisted H&H Group with employment matters relating to its acquisition of five communication agencies.

Advised Lantmännen on employment matters in connection with a number of acquisitions.

Notable practitioners

Anna Jerndorf is described by clients as "easy to work with and knowledgeable," and they appreciate that "she is very responsive at all hours." She advises on a range of employment mandates, offering expertise on redundancies, senior executive matters and non-compete issues.

About the Team (content provided by Advokatfirman Törngren Magnell KB)

Törngren Magnell provides expert advice on Swedish employment law issues.

All businesses are about people. This is the most important resource for practically all organisations and companies are almost daily confronted with a variety of issues relating to their personnel and their wellbeing. Our highly reputable employment law team advises Swedish and foreign clients on a broad range of matters relating to different types of employment and related rights and obligations, and guides them through often complex negotiation procedures.

We counsel clients on the employment aspects of M&A transactions, transfer of business undertakings, individual terminations and redundancies, employment contracts, change of employment terms, preparation of employee policies and handbooks, measures to protect trade secrets, non-compete and loyalty issues, negotiations relating to collective bargaining agreements, work environment matters, employment dispute resolutions, and pension schemes.

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Overview

The Swedish labour law model

Significant for the Swedish labour law model is that it is almost exclusively founded upon civil rules. By tradition, the Swedish legislature is only responsible for a minor part of the regulations on the labour market and the observance of statutory regulations. The vast majority of the regulations are instead established through collective bargain agreements (“CBA”), entered into between an employer or employers’ organisation and a trade union. The Swedish labour market is characterised by self-regulation by the parties on the market, where CBAs play an important role.

Almost 90% of all employers in Sweden are members of an employer’s organisation, and since most of the larger companies in Sweden are members of different employers’ organisations, almost 90% of all employees in Sweden are also covered by terms and conditions of various CBAs. The high level of participation on the Swedish labour market is the basis of the co-determination between employees and trade unions and employers and employers’ organisations.

A CBA is binding on all employers and individuals that are members of the organisation that has concluded the CBA. Further, an employer which is bound by a CBA is required to practise its regulations in relation to all employees occupied with work that is covered by that CBA. Contrary to systems in other European countries, there is no system in Sweden for making CBAs generally applicable (i.e. there is no procedure for enhancing a CBA to law).

There is no legal obligation for an employer to enter into a CBA. However, a trade union that wishes to enter into a CBA may under certain circumstances have a right to take industrial action against a company to try and conclude a CBA.

Issues related to conducting business activities in Sweden and the posting of workers in Sweden

The requirements for a foreign company to conduct business activities in Sweden are set out in the Swedish Foreign Branches Act (the “FBA”). According to provisions in the FBA, a foreign company must conduct its business activities in Sweden in one of the three ways: through a branch office, a Swedish subsidiary or an agency with operations in Sweden. If that obligation is not observed, fines may be imposed.

There are several different statutory obligations for a foreign company conducting business activities in Sweden. Branch offices are subject to provisions in the FBA and Swedish subsidiaries to provisions under different Swedish corporate statutes. There is also bookkeeping, accounting and financial reporting legislation to comply with.

Depending on whether a foreign company is deemed to have a permanent establishment in Sweden (according to Swedish tax legislation), different provisions regarding, inter alia, income tax and employer’s contributions may apply. A foreign enterprise may be deemed to have a permanent establishment in Sweden even when there is no fixed place in Sweden from where its business operations are carried out, such as when the business operations in Sweden are carried out through a dependent agent.

The above specified obligations in the FBA do not apply if the foreign company is posting employees in Sweden on a temporary basis. A posting is conducted when a foreign employer is using its employees in order to conduct services for another company in Sweden. In such cases, the Swedish Posted Workers’ Act (the “PWA”), which incorporates the different EU Directives concerning the posting of workers, is then applicable.

A foreign employer has to report the posting of employees in Sweden, along with certain information concerning the posting, to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. If that obligation is not observed, the Work Environment Authority could impose a fine on the foreign employer.

If a foreign employee is posted in Sweden, the PWA lists a number of Swedish statutory provisions (known as the "core obligations"), which the foreign employer must comply with, irrespective of under which legislation the employment relationship otherwise should be assessed. The core obligations include, inter alia, regulations on number of paid vacation days and working hours.

Several amendments to the PWA entered into force on 1st June 2017, whereof the following are of particular importance. A trade union’s right to take industrial action against an employer in order to regulate the terms and conditions for posted workers through a CBA has been expanded. Industrial action may be taken under certain conditions in order for a trade union to conclude a so-called “Posting CBA”, regulating the terms and conditions related to the core obligations under the PWA. A trade union has the possibility to demand a Posting CBA, even if the minimum terms and conditions achieved through a CBA do not differ from the terms and conditions already applied by the foreign employer. The provisions in a Posting CBA shall be applied in relation to all posted employees conducting work covered by the Posting CBA, irrespective of whether they are bound by the Posting CBA by means of membership in a trade union or not. The employer’s duty to supply the trade union with certain information and documentation regarding the posting and the posted employees has also been amplified.

News within Swedish labour and employment law

On 1st January 2017, new procurement legislation entered into force in Sweden as an effect of the EU Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement. As of 1st June 2017, the legislation has been supplemented by provisions concerning a contracting entity’s duty to demand the supplier to fulfil certain employment conditions within procurement. If deemed necessary, a contracting entity shall require the supplier to observe specific terms and conditions concerning salary, vacation and working hours when performing the contract.

On 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters into force in all member states of the European Union. The current Swedish Personal Data Act will hereby be reversed and replaced with new supplementary provisions to GDPR. In the government bill concerning the supplementary provisions there is a proposed provision limiting the exception in article 9.2 (b) in GDPR, regarding the processing of special categories of personal data in the field of employment. Such data may be disclosed to a third party only if the data controller has an obligation on disclosure under employment law, or if the data subject has explicitly agreed to disclosure.

With effect from 1st January 2017, there is an increased responsibility under the Swedish Anti-Discrimination Act for an employer to take proactive measures in order to prevent and support efforts to stop discrimination, and to otherwise work to attain equal rights and possibilities in the workplace. An employer is also required to have guidelines and routines for the operations aimed at preventing, inter alia, sexual harassments. The implemented provisions regarding proactive measures coincided with the so called #metoo-movement in the latter part of 2017, which highlighted a widespread social problem of sexual harassment against women in the workplace. The movement received great media attention, both in Sweden and abroad. The movement shed additional light on statutory duties under the Swedish Anti-Discrimination Act to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and to take actions to prevent such harassments in the future.

During 2017, the Swedish Labour Court further developed its case law regarding restrictive covenants within employment relationships (i.e. restrictions on competition and solicitation of the former employer’s customers and manpower). The Court has adopted a restrictive approach to restrictions on competition, entailing that only an employee with knowledge of trade or manufacturing secrets may be subject to such restrictions. Further, restrictions may not extend beyond what is reasonable, neither in scope nor in length, and the employee bound by the restriction must receive compensation for the inconvenience.

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Senior Statesperson

EmpLaw Advokater AB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Anders Elmér of EmpLaw Advokater AB is hailed as a "very experienced lawyer" and earns respect for his employment expertise. He assists clients with various aspects of employment law, including transfer of business, immigration and industrial relations. He represented Gullers Grupp in trade union negotiations to set up a collective bargaining agreement.

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Senior Statesperson

Elmzell Advokatbyrå AB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Founding partner Lars Hartzell is a seasoned employment adviser for domestic and international clients. He assists with employment litigation, restructuring and negotiations with trade unions.

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Senior Statesperson

Hamilton Advokatbyrå

From the Chambers Europe guide

Interviewees note that Tom Johansson has "extensive experience in employment matters." He advises clients on employment contracts, staff reductions and business transfer issues. He also has expertise in contentious mandates related to employment disputes in the Swedish Labour Courts.

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Band 1

Advokatfirman Vinge KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

The "fantastic" Fredrik Dahl is described as "pragmatic and extremely good at explaining." He specialises in M&A-related employment law, assisting clients with corporate reorganisations, dismissals and discrimination issues.

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Band 1

Hamilton Advokatbyrå

From the Chambers Europe guide

Head of department Erik Danhard is a seasoned employment adviser, with a particular focus on negotiating collective agreements. Clients praise him as being "very skilled and service-minded," adding that he always provides a solution to problems. He also has experience acting as an arbitrator and a mediator in employment disputes.

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Band 1

Anders Nordström

Mannheimer Swartling

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients describe Anders Nordström as being "very smooth and efficient," adding that it is "a great pleasure co-operating with him."  He has a wealth of experience advising on a range of employment law issues, including acting on litigation and arbitration. He recently represented PwC in a dispute regarding a breach of non-compete obligations.

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Band 1

Advokatfirman Cederquist KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Robert Stromberg as always being "responsive, constructive and problem-solving," adding that his "deep knowledge and extensive experience" ensures clients "always get help and solutions." He has a wealth of experience advising on employment, pensions and incentive matters, as well as acting on contentious mandates. He recently represented PwC in a dispute with a former regional manager concerning a breach of non-competition and non-solicitation clauses.

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Band 2

Baker McKenzie

From the Chambers Europe guide

Sten Bauer advises on a range of employment issues including executive recruitment, terminations and benefits. He has further experience acting for clients in collective redundancy proceedings and in employment-related litigation.

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Band 2

Mannheimer Swartling

From the Chambers Europe guide

Henric Diefke is described by sources as an "extremely skilled" lawyer. He is a respected figure acting on a broad range of matters including reorganisations, transfer of business and pensions, as well as regularly advising on contentious mandates. His recent work includes assisting IKEA with its cross-border divestment of 25 shopping centres around Europe.

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Band 2

Charlotte Forssander

Advokatfirman Vinge KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Charlotte Forssander has particular expertise in contentious labour matters, having recently represented QQFS in a dispute against former employees and their new company regarding an alleged theft of information. Clients say that "she is very knowledgeable and quickly understands the issues," with other clients adding that "she is very supportive" and communicates very clearly.

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Band 2

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Advokat KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Robert Lakatos as "very experienced," adding that "he is solution-oriented." He acts on a broad spectrum of employment mandates and is notably praised for his work in contentious employment cases.

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Band 2

Advokatfirman Cederquist KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Jens Tillqvist has long-standing experience assisting clients with day-to-day employment matters, including redundancies and contracts. He also often represents clients in employment disputes. His recent work includes advising Gullringsbo and Svenska Hus on a case against their former management regarding a violation of the Trade Secrets Act.

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Band 3

Katarina Åhlberg

Bird & Bird

From the Chambers Europe guide

One client describes Katarina Åhlberg as an "expert on labour law," while another adds that she "always gives excellent advice." She assists with executive contracts, pensions and benefits, as well as offering substantial experience in the employment aspects of international restructurings.

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Band 3

DLA Piper

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients say that Mats Borgström's "high level of experience" instils trust in his advice. As head of the practice, he advises both domestic and international clients on a range of corporate employment matters, as well as acting on contentious cases. He represented the Swedish Building Workers' Union in a dispute regarding the right to take industrial action.

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Band 3

Setterwalls

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients laud Dan Bullarbo's ability to "explain legal questions very simply," adding that he is "service-minded and business-oriented." He assists clients with senior executive agreements, terminations and restructurings. His recent work includes advising Hertz on a range of labour law matters, including personal data questions and employment agreements.

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Band 3

Setterwalls

From the Chambers Europe guide

According to clients, Åsa Erlandsson "makes law easy to understand and is fast and service-minded throughout the process," adding that she is "extremely result-oriented." Her work covers dismissals and corporate restructurings. She recently represented a ferry operator in litigation concerning the dismissal of two managers.

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Band 3

Andreas Holmqvist

Gernandt & Danielsson Advokatbyrå KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Andreas Holmqvist of Gernandt & Danielsson Advokatbyrå KB is described by sources as a "very skilful and talented lawyer." He frequently assists clients with employment matters related to transactions, as well as representing clients in contentious labour matters.

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Band 3

Advokatfirman Törngren Magnell KB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Anna Jerndorf is described by clients as "easy to work with and knowledgeable," and they appreciate that "she is very responsive at all hours." She advises on a range of employment mandates, offering expertise on redundancies, senior executive matters and non-compete issues.

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Band 3

Torbjörn Lindmark

MAQS Advokatbyrå

From the Chambers Europe guide

Torbjörn Lindmark is lauded as being "knowledgeable and business-minded." His practice covers a range of employment advice, including particular experience in pensions law and M&A-related employment matters. He recently assisted with employment aspects of a tax and fraud investigation at a company that produces technical products.

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Band 3

Ramberg Advokater

From the Chambers Europe guide

Heading the department at Ramberg Advokater, Fredrika Skoog is lauded by clients for her approach: "She always has a business perspective in her advice and it comes with suggestions and risks for our businesses." She has considerable experience advising clients on business transfers, reorganisations and pension and incentive programmes.

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Band 4

Carl-Fredrik Hedenström

Magnusson

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Carl-Fredrik Hedenström of Magnusson as being "always available and really good at explaining the law and what's important." He has particular experience working with international companies, advising on their establishment in the Swedish market, exemplified in recent work assisting Luxoft with its ongoing posting of employment agreements in Sweden.

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Band 4

Elmzell Advokatbyrå AB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Interviewees have noted that Jenny Hellberg does "a very good job for her clients." She advises domestic and international clients on day-to-day employment matters. She additionally acts on contentious matters, representing clients in employment disputes.

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Band 4

Osborne Clarke Advokatfirma AB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Jenny Jilmstad joined Osborne Clarke LLP in August 2018. She advises clients on day-to-day employment issues, as well as acting on employment-related matters in M&A transactions.

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Band 4

MAQS Advokatbyrå

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients particularly appreciate that Lars Lövgren is "very trustworthy and always quick with responses." His work focuses on executive terminations, restructurings and pensions law. Other clients add that "he is always straight to the point and gets to what is important."

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Band 4

Delphi

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Fredrik Nordlöf's "ability to balance the customer's needs and tricky legal issues," adding that "he is pragmatic and solution-oriented." He acts on negotiations with trade unions and is also experienced representing clients in employment litigation and arbitration.

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Band 4

Sigeman & Co

From the Chambers Europe guide

Johan Sigeman of Sigeman & Co is described by sources as a "very good" employment litigator. He also frequently acts as arbitrator, and additionally has experience advising clients on corporate law and commercial contracts.

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Band 4

DLA Piper

From the Chambers Europe guide

Johan Sundberg is appreciated by clients for always being "very reliable and efficient." He has a particular expertise advising on data privacy matters as well as acting for clients in reorganisations. He is further praised by clients for being "very knowledgeable and experienced in his subject area," which includes a specific knowledge of the life sciences sector.

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Band 4

Jenny Welander Wadström

Roschier

From the Chambers Europe guide

Head of department Jenny Welander Wadström acts for clients on a range of employment and pensions mandates. Clients praise her as being "knowledgeable, very responsive and pleasant to work with." Her recent work includes assisting Atlas Copco with the employment aspects of the sale of its Road Construction Equipment division to Fayat Group.

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Up and Coming

Delphi

From the Chambers Europe guide

Magnus Berterud advises on a wide range of matters, including reorganisations, redundancies and trade union negotiations. Clients describe him as "excellent and swift to respond with practical, succinct advice."

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Up and Coming

Osborne Clarke Advokatfirma AB

From the Chambers Europe guide

Björn Rustare of Osborne Clarke LLP stands out for his "ability to quickly grasp the core issues" and is praised for his "direct and concrete advice." He assists with reorganisations, employment contract negotiations and dismissals, including at senior level. He joined the firm in August 2018.

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Up and Coming

Johan Zetterström

Baker McKenzie

From the Chambers Europe guide

Johan Zetterström frequently advises clients on individual terminations and collective redundancies. He also assists with employment matters related to M&A transactions, outsourcing and work environment matters, as well as discrimination disputes.

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