As in every other part of the world, the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting Swedish society in numerous ways. This article presents a selection of Swedish employment law-related responsibilities and possibilities for employers to be aware of in view of the effects of COVID-19, particularly with regard to their work environment responsibilities and the Short-Time Work Allowance Act.
Workplace harassment between employees raises questions regarding employers' responsibility to maintain a healthy and sustainable work environment and what actions can be taken against disruptive employees. Employers and their representatives have an extensive responsibility to maintain a positive work environment, including assessing, preventing and acting against risk factors such as harassment.
The government recently decided to appoint a special investigator to explore the possibilities of modernising some of the basic regulations of Swedish labour law. The investigation aims to explore how Swedish labour law can be modernised and adapted to meet current market needs while maintaining the fundamental and historical balance between the various parties to the labour market.
Company leaders such as CEOs are expressly excluded from the scope of the Employment Protection Act. Therefore, the parties to a CEO's employment agreement must agree its terms. However, the reasonability and validity of the agreed terms and conditions may be assessed or determined by the Swedish courts. Given the lack of applicable law in this area, the parties to a CEO's employment agreement must agree on the terms relating to both active employment and termination (by either party).
The Labour Court recently issued two decisions which further outline the principles for determining the 'real' employer when an employer-employee relationship is unclear. The decisions confirm that the court still places a strong emphasis on protecting employees' rights. Thus, in the interests of full transparency, employers must fulfil their obligations by ensuring that employees have full knowledge of any agreement between their employer and another company that performs employment-related functions.
From time to time, the question arises as to whether shareholders or other representatives of a company can pursue litigation by creating a company specifically for such purposes and, in the event of loss, avoid personal liability for the litigation costs. A Supreme Court ruling shows how the court balances the statutory obligation to cover the costs for litigation with the rules limiting shareholder liability with regard to their company's obligations by applying the principle of piercing the corporate veil.
Recent case law confirms that the Swedish courts uphold the general principle that awards finalise a dispute between parties. In order to successfully challenge an award, the challenging party must prove not only that the procedural error likely affected the outcome of the award, but also that the error is of essential importance.