Sweden is one of the few countries in the world in which it is actually possible to achieve work-life balance and spend quality time with family and friends or pursuing hobbies. A 40-hour work week with flexible hours, 480 days of paid parental leave per child and five weeks of paid vacation per year - these are only a few of the benefits written into Swedish law that make it possible for people employed in Sweden to spend a significant amount of time doing activities outside of work.
Work weeks in Sweden usually begin at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and last until 5 p.m from Monday to Friday. At 5 p.m. offices empty out and people head home to spend time with their families. Managers neither expect or push employees to work overtime. In fact, working overtime on consecutive days will win you a conversation with a concerned manager who is worried about your mental health and stress levels and will help you find solutions to reduce your workload.
The Swedish work week also differs from most other countries in that it offers flexible hours, known in Sweden as flextid. Flextid gives employees the right to decide how they wish to complete their 40-hour week. Flextid can, for example, mean that if you work overtime one day you can work fewer hours the following day so that the total hours that you worked equals 40 at the end of the week.
The right to be flexible with your work hours also means that employers often only require employees to be physically present at work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or even 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Managers and colleagues will not react if someone leaves their desk at 3 p.m. to go pick up their children at school, for instance. It is considered perfectly normal. Managers understand the demands of family life and trust employees to complete their work hours from home or in the following days.
Aside from flexible hours, Sweden offers many other benefits that make it much easier to balance both a family and a career. For one, parents in Sweden have the right to take 480 days of paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Each parent is entitled to 240 of those days, but partners can decide to split the days differently if they want.
Parental leave legislation in Sweden makes it easier for partners to split the responsibility of a new child so that it doesn’t fall predominantly on women. The fact that parental leave is not gender-specific makes it possible for men to participate in family life and in raising their children. In Swedish cities and towns it is very common to see fathers on parental leave, known as “latte dads,” strolling in parks and hanging out at cafes with their babies.
Another benefit of being a parent in Sweden is that you are not penalized for missing work when a child is sick. There is a national policy known as the VAB policy, which stands for “Vård av Barn” or “Care of Children” policy, which mandates that workers can take up to 120 paid days off work per year to care for a sick child. This means that when a child gets sick the only thing an employee needs to do is send an email in the morning saying that they will not show up to work because they need to vabba that day. It's as simple as that.
Sweden is not only a good place to work if you are a parent. Swedish labor law gives all employees in Sweden the right to take 25 paid vacation days per year. Semesterlagen, or vacation law, in Sweden also allows employees to take four of the five weeks of vacation time consecutively.
Most Swedes take the entire month of July off to go enjoy the nice weather in their summer homes. Work-wise, the month of July in Sweden is a dead month during which offices stand empty and quiet, and email responses are set to automated Out-of-Office replies.
In the long-run, Sweden believes that living a balanced life, in which there is enough time to rest, be with family and pursue fun interests, leads to higher productivity and better outcomes. Sweden integrates work-life balance into its labour policies as one of the most effective measures to prevent the stress and burnout that arises from not having enough time in the day to complete work tasks, exercise, rest and take care of family.
If all of these benefits sound attractive, you are proficient in English and have more than three years of experience in product development, apply to Iknal Semikan today to get access to the Swedish employer network and your next job in Sweden. We look forward to hearing from you!