Goals and visions of labour law and work environment

The Government’s objective for working life policy is to ensure good working conditions and opportunities for development in the workplace for both women and men.

Working life policy consists of three sub-areas: work environment, labour legislation and wage formation. Below are the objectives for each area:

  • A working environment that guards against ill health, accidents and prevents people being excluded from work, takes account of people's different circumstances and contributes to the development of both individuals and the organisation.
  • Labour legislation that lays the foundations for working life that meets both employees' and employers' needs for flexibility, security and influence.
  • Wage formation that is consistent with macroeconomic balance and industrial peace.

The Swedish labour market model

The Swedish labour market model contributes to a well-functioning labour market with good conditions for security, development, growth and competitiveness. The model is based on a division of responsibilities between the State and the social partners. The role of the State is to ensure good working conditions and facilitate the creation of new jobs through appropriate regulations and other policy levers, while conditions are created for the social partners to take responsibility for designing more detailed terms of collective agreements.

Sustainable working life

Fair conditions and a good working environment are prerequisites for high productivity in the Swedish economy, which is distinguished by high labour force participation and a high level of employment. Everyone who works in Sweden should have a job that does not exploit them or wear them out. No one should have to risk death or injury at their work. The Government's new work environment strategy for modern working life sets the priorities for 2016–2020. Measures to prevent work-related ill health and reduce the risk of employees being injured or worn out are necessary to achieve sustainable working life.

Fair working conditions

Conditions in the Swedish labour market must be fair and decent. A company should not risk being driven out of business as a result of other companies' substandard working conditions. Competition should be based on knowledge and skills – not on reduced wages, poor working conditions or an unsafe workplace.

The Government is working on several fronts to strengthen and develop the Swedish labour market model, both nationally and internationally. The status of collective agreements must be strengthened and safeguarded. The principle should be 'equal pay for equal work' in accordance with applicable laws and collective agreements in the country of employment, with respect for free movement. In the EU, Sweden must ensure that Member States set high occupational safety and health standards. Swedish wages and conditions must apply to everyone who works in Sweden.

Workplace inspections are crucial to maintain worker protection and to ensure that fair competition prevails in the labour market. Efforts are essential to prevent companies from contravening work environment regulations in various ways to gain a competitive edge. A poor working environment must never be a means of competing, either nationally or in the EU.

Responsible wage formation

The social partners' responsibility for wage formation is a cornerstone of the Swedish labour market model. The State has overall economic responsibility, but primary responsibility for wage formation lies with the social partners. The basis of the Swedish wage formation model is that the sector exposed to international competition has a normative role in wage formation. This model has contributed to long-term wage growth for the past two decades. It is important for this positive trend to continue.

The labour market needs to become less gender-segregated, and full-time work must be the norm regardless of gender. Gender pay gaps are unacceptable and must be successively reduced. Unjustified pay gaps should not occur. Women often take greater responsibility for care of relatives and work part-time to do so. No one should need to reduce their working hours because the quality of welfare services is inadequate. Women's work must be valued the same as men's.