Further steps to stop criminal activity in working life

Published

A government assignment to eight government agencies has yielded positive results from efforts to stop fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life. The Government now wants to use the experience gained from the assignment to help government agencies work effectively to stop criminal activity in working life.

Fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life have negative consequences for workers, companies, society and central government finances. Moreover, they have a negative impact on employment and productivity, and they distort competition.

“Criminal activity in working life has no place in our labour market. Society’s view of unscrupulous companies that cheat must continue to be uncomprising. Companies that follow the rules risk being out-competed by unscrupulous actors. The Government is taking a tough stance. It is important to call problems by their proper name. We have a level of criminal activity in working life here in Sweden that exploits people and also functions as a source of income for organised crime,” says Minister for Employment Eva Nordmark.

The Government has previously tasked Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish public employment service), the Swedish Work Environment Authority, the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, Försäkringskassan (the Swedish social insurance agency), the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, the Swedish Migration Agency, the Swedish Police Authority and the Swedish Tax Agency with jointly developing working methods during the period 2018–2020 for inter-agency checks to stop fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life.

3 000 inter-agency checks

The assignment has so far resulted in over 3 000 inter-agency checks at workplaces. There has been a focus on high-risk sectors, such as the construction, beauty and restaurant sectors. According to the Swedish Work Environment Authority, during their checks the agencies uncovered illegal labour, human trafficking, substandard living conditions, hazardous work environments, dangerous and unprotected equipment, inadequate security equipment and benefit fraud. Of the companies checked, approximately one in ten were forced to terminate their operations either completely or partially because of the shortcomings the agencies found. In addition, penalties totalling approximately SEK 10 million have been issued.

Follow-up work

The Minister for Employment has now decided to appoint an inquiry to assist the Ministry of Employment with following up and analysing the work on inter-agency checks to combat fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life. The inquiry will also submit proposals for measures in the area and necessary action to ensure that efforts to combat fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life are effective and fit-for-purpose.

Difficulties with information exchange

One challenge that the government agencies have identified in their collaboration are difficulties with information exchange between agencies. An important task for the inquiry will therefore be to identify and analyse the situations in which difficulties occur and what information needs to be exchanged.

The remit includes:

  • consulting agencies to identify and analyse what situations these difficulties occur in; and
  • identifying what information needs to be exchanged for effective and fit-for-purpose checks, and whether this requires additional measures.

The inquiry will also look into the conditions for digital information exchange and an inter-agency tip-off portal.

ID checks in high-risk sectors
ID checks in high-risk sectors could help to combat fraud, regulatory infringements and criminal activity in working life. The remit therefore includes analysing the role of work ID cards in workplace checks and considering whether measures are needed.

The inquiry chair will be Mikael Sjöberg, former Director-General at both the Swedish Work Environment Authority and Arbetsförmedlingen. The final report is to be presented by 30 December 2020.