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.
Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world with full freedom of religion. Further, freedom of conscience is a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. However, domestic law recognises no right to conscientious objection. A recent Labour Court decision has clarified from an employment law perspective whether freedom of conscience gives healthcare professionals a right to conscientious objection.
Businesses considering purchasing all or part of a business in Sweden often make several economic and organisational considerations regarding the assets and liabilities of the business being acquired. Employment-related issues and how any redundancies can be handled may also be contemplated. Despite such considerations, buyers commonly disregard entirely, or at least underestimate, the importance of employment regulations in connection with a transfer of undertakings.
The Labour Court recently reviewed whether actions conducted by the employees of a private waste collection and transportation company were illicit collective strike actions. According to the court, the employees had refrained from performing their work tasks in order to pressure the company into ending the demands to conduct an inventory of keys. This was a stoppage of work and an illicit collective strike action, since it had not been duly decided by the trade union.
Companies and individuals acting on the Swedish labour market should be aware of the delimitation in law between consultants and employees. Whether an individual is to be considered a company consultant or an employee will determine the applicability of employment protection and could have significant tax implications affecting both companies and private individuals.
The legislature recently amended the law known as 'Lex Laval', according to which the right to conduct collective actions against foreign labour stationed in Sweden has been limited. The amendments in Lex Laval, which entered into force in June 2017, bring expanded rights for Swedish trade unions through collective actions by demanding that workplaces with foreign labour be covered by Swedish collective agreements.
Calculating compensation for damages can be complicated. The Labour Court recently ruled on this matter and made three individuals and their company liable to pay damages of several million Swedish kroner. It is the first case of its type and magnitude to be tried by a court of the highest instance. The Supreme Court has also decided that the dispute in question is a labour dispute, not a civil claims case.
Following the government's recent finding that whistleblower protection must be improved, new legislation has entered into force. The new legislation has given Sweden its first act specifically on whistleblowing. While the Whistleblowing Act does not regulate any right for employees to blow the whistle about wrongdoing, it protects employees and temporary workers who report serious wrongdoings in their employer's business from retaliation.
Foreign employees may face expulsion if their employers fail to comply with certain employment terms in collective agreements. The Aliens Act stipulates that a foreign citizen who has been offered employment in Sweden can be granted a time-limited work permit, provided that the employment enables the employee to provide for him or herself. The permit will be revoked if the legal requirements are no longer met – for example, if the employment terms are inferior to the relevant collective agreement.
The Supreme Court has ruled that under certain conditions a trade union may be liable for damages if industrial action has taken place in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Previously, the general opinion was that employers' organisations and trade unions could not be liable for such damage claims. The decision is particularly significant for small companies, which are more affected by such industrial action.
Sweden has seen a significant increase in reported work-related illness. The Work Environment Authority has identified workload, work pace and work environment as the causes behind the increase. In an effort to keep up with the labour market, the authority has issued new regulations regarding organisational and social work environments. The regulations are intended to support employers in their efforts to prevent workplace illness.
Can a trade union be held liable for damages for breach of the European Convention on Human Rights? The Supreme Court is about to answer this question after a lawsuit was filed against trade union Byggnads by a construction company claiming that the union violated the convention's rules on freedom of association and protection of property.
An employee's duty of loyalty ceases once the employment relationship is terminated. To limit the possibility for employees to conduct competing business after employment ends, employers can include a non-compete clause in the employment agreement. However, the applicability of clauses in individual cases is limited to what may be considered reasonable according to law, case law and agreements between parties.
The Western Sweden Court of Appeal recently ruled on a case regarding three women who had taken two databases from their previous employer and started a competing company. The court stated that the databases were considered trade secrets and the employees' actions constituted a breach of the duty of employee loyalty.
Following the suicide of an employee, two managers were convicted for an environmental offence believed to have caused another's death. The ruling clarifies employers' statutory responsibility for the physical and psychosocial working environment. The court found that the employer's gross negligence had caused the employee's death, because it had breached what was incumbent on it to prevent.
The Supreme Court recently decided that a claim for dismissal pay, based on an employment agreement having been entered into during reorganisation, constituted a super-priority claim in bankruptcy. The court concluded that a super-priority right exists if the claim is based on an agreement that the debtor entered into with the approval of the administrator during reorganisation.
The Court of Appeal recently ruled on a director's personal liability for corporate debt which arose after she had resigned from the board. Although the defendant had sold her company to an unknown person, thus knowingly allowing an undercapitalised company obliged to undergo liquidation to continue business, the court decided that she was not to be held personally liable for the debts in question.
Once a company reorganisation has been initiated, a number of parties will be affected, especially those which have previously entered into agreements with the company. The debtor's agreements are not affected by company reorganisation, meaning that both parties are bound by the agreement just as they were before the reorganisation was initiated.
When a company goes bankrupt in Sweden the landlord is one of the many parties affected. It is crucial that the landlord act as soon as the bankruptcy has been brought to its attention and request in writing that the bankruptcy estate provide, for example, a guarantee that the rent will be paid.
The Supreme Court recently found that Sweden has in accordance with the motive of the EU Insolvency Regulation. The court had to decide whether Sweden had jurisdiction over a recovery action involving a Norwegian defendant. It noted that a court in a member state where an insolvency proceeding has been opened also has jurisdiction over a recovery action against a defendant in another member state.