New work environment agency in Sweden

To strengthen national and international work environment efforts, the Government has today decided to establish a new government agency for work environment awareness. The agency is to be situated in Gävle and will start operations on 1 June 2018.

Photo: Folio Images

"From day one, the Government has clearly prioritised work environment efforts. A national strategy has been adopted and resources have been increased by SEK 125 million annually. Through the new agency for work environment awareness, work environment efforts will now be further strengthened," says Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson.

The Swedish Work Environment Authority currently has a limited mandate as a national function for knowledge on the work environment and working life. But since the previous government closed the National Institute for Working Life 10 years ago, there has been no special agency with national responsibility for compiling and spreading knowledge about working life. Nor is there an actor that evaluates the work environment policies that have been implemented. The social partners – both trade unions and employer organisations – have long pointed out the need for such an organisation and have recommended the creation of a new agency for that purpose.

The new agency for work environment awareness will be tasked with compiling and making available knowledge about the working environment and communicating this in a manner tailored to the target audience. The aim is to support practical work environment efforts at workplaces. The agency will also evaluate and analyse labour market policy and support the Government in international work environment efforts. The agency will also work on issues relating to occupational health services.

Strengthening central government presence and spreading central government agencies throughout the country is an important priority for the Government. It is also a way for the Government to contribute to central government jobs for civil servants and academics outside the biggest cities. The agency for work environment awareness will therefore be situated in Gävle. In choosing a location, the Government has considered it advantageous for the new agency to be situated in close proximity to the University of Gävle, which conducts working life research. Gävle municipality has a large catchment area for skills provision. All in all, it is considered that the new agency is well-placed to attract the right skills.

The new agency is to be up and running by 1 June 2018. In the Budget Bill for 2018, SEK 18.8 million has been earmarked for the agency. The agency will be built up successively. When operations are fully established in 2020, the agency's budget is expected to total SEK 35 million annually.

Ewa Ställdal has been appointed Inquiry Chair for the establishment of the agency. She was most recently Director-General of the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte) in 2014–2016.

The Budget Bill for 2018 is based on an agreement between the Government and the Left Party.