A work environment policy for the modern working life

The Government's work environment policy is to contribute to a work environment that prevents ill health, accidents and people being excluded from working life. Work environment management must take into account people's differing circumstances and contribute to the development of both individuals and operations.

Photo: Alexander Ruas/Folio

Fixed-term employment has become more common, contract labour is being used to a greater extent, production is being outsourced and companies are buying services instead of having their own employees. In some sectors, 'bogus self-employment ' is becoming increasingly common, i.e. people who say they are independent contractors but who should actually be regarded as employees.

"Many people feel that there is no real line drawn between when they are working and when they are off. There are also new ways of organising work, for example through the sharing economy and crowdsourcing," says Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson.

Work Environment strategy with zero tolerance of fatal accidents

In some sectors, long subcontractor chains have become common, with lots of different actors at the same workplace, which can result in an unclear division of responsibilities and an increased risk of accident. No one should have to die as a result of their work. In 2015, the Government drew up a new work environment strategy in consultation with the social partners. One of the three priority parts of the strategy is zero tolerance of fatal accidents and the prevention of accidents at work.

Skr. 2015/16:80 A Work Environment Strategy for Modern Working Life 2016–2020

Work environment rules for modern working life

New ways of offering services and goods make it more difficult than previously to define the relationship between employers and employees. In response to the need for flexible solutions in the labour market, new forms of employment and other new ways of organising work have emerged. New elements are now present in the Swedish labour market, such as self-employment companies and companies enabling transactions between other actors with the help of internet-based tools (one example of what is sometimes called the sharing economy).

The Government has appointed an inquiry to map out the challenges of modern working life, and analyse and assess whether the existing provisions on work environment responsibility are fit-for-purpose in view of those challenges. The inquiry is also to review the right of access and powers of regional safety representatives and devise any necessary legislative proposals in this regard.

Unfair competition in working life

Companies that deliberately contravene work environment regulations to gain competitive advantages create unfair competition in working life. Such companies can be found in all sectors. The Swedish Work Environment Authority is pursuing national efforts to combat unfair competition and has taken initiatives in collaboration with a number of Swedish government agencies also affected by the problem. The Work Environment Authority has been given several government assignments related to these issues, including strengthening its supervision of companies that contravene work environment regulations to gain competitive advantages, and conducting information campaigns that target the relevant sectors and companies.

EU forum for tackling undeclared work

In March 2016, a European forum was established to improve cooperation to combat undeclared work. The forum comprises representatives of the Member States, the European Commission, trade unions and employer organisations. The forum should help reduce the prevalence of undeclared work. The Swedish Work Environment Authority has been appointed to represent Sweden. The idea is for the Work Environment Authority to take to, and bring back from, the EU forum knowledge and experiences of work at national level.

European platform against undeclared work (European council website)
Working Conditions – Undeclared work (European Commission website)