Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Swedish vacation

I got a couple of comments about my writing in my last post about my vacation, and thought I'd write some more about vacation rights in Sweden...

2 weeks of vacation for every worker in Sweden was part of the Swedish legislation all ready back in 1938. That's 70 years ago! The thought was that the workers would do a better job during the year if they had two weeks off every year to do something to re-energize.

In 1951 the two weeks turned into three. The three weeks turned into four in 1963. And ever since 1978 every employee in Sweden has had the right to have five working weeks (=25 days) off every year.

So, my right to get 5 weeks of vacation every year is part of the Swedish law. And it applies to everyone who has a fulltime job as an employee. If you own your own business, you have no legal right for vacation as you are your own employer. These five weeks are a minimum and many people have more vacation than that. If you're working for the municipality or the state you usually get a couple more days as you turn 40 and 50. I think a 50-year-old would have 31 or 32 days of vacation every year. I know of private companies that offer the employees a sixth or even seventh week of vacation if they agree to not get compensated for working more than 40 hours a week.

I'm making it simple here, but to get the 25 days, you have to work for a year. If you get employed in the fall , you naturally don't get 25 days off for vacation, but you get parts of it, proportunate to the amount of months you work. I think you need a contract that runs for longer than 3 months though to be eligable for vacation as in "taking days off".

In the "vacation law" it's also regulated so that every employee has the right to take four successive weeks off some time during the months of June, July and August. It is, however, the right of the employer to decide when those weeks will be. This is to keep the businesses running. I think most work places circulate "wishlists" that the employees have to fill out, marking the weeks they wish to go on vacation, so that the employers can work out the puzzle of having enough people left in work at every time, but also fulfilling the right everyone has to take time off during the summer. It used to be that big industries shut down during the month of July and had everyone on vacation at the same time. July is often referred to as "the industrial vacation" here in Sweden (Europe?).

By law, all employers also have to pay the employees something called "vacation pay" or "vacation salary". In the paycheck you get before you use vacation days or the one you get after you've used vacation days, you get an extra 12 or 13% salary for days you were off... Yes, we get paid more when we're on vacation compared to the days we're actually at work... I find this hilarious. Do other countries have this as well?

If we decide to not use all of our 25 days (or how many you get) we can save them for following years. So, if I decide to use three weeks one year, I can technically take seven weeks off the following year. Most companies have a restriction though as to how many days they will allow you to save. (I don't think this is regulated by law, but I don't know for sure.) In most companies they will let you have 40 days on your "vacation account" when you go from one year to the next. If you have more than 40, they will simply erase the extra days from your account and not compensate you in any way. I have colleagues that every year are forced to go on vacation during Christmas time so as not to lose those extra vacation days they have saved. But then again... If you've passed the age of 50, are employed by the municipality or state, and you have 40 days saved 'til next year, you will be able to take something like 70 days of vacation in the next year. That's 10 full working weeks; 2½ months. And to be realistic, how many of us would be able to do our annual job with 2½ months less in the office?


My summer vacation starts in about 4 hours!!!

For the next three weeks or so, I will probably not be posting as regularly as I usually do. Just giving you a heads up.


Anonymous said...

Enjoy your break! -Shell

Geek Knitter said...

I wish that the US was as progressive as Sweden about vacations. My vacation time is fairly good, but my husband barely gets a week, and NO sick time. I hope you have a wonderful time!


Pikku- Kettu said...

Have a great holiday! :)

Trudy said...

I'm all for Sweden, too! IT'S A BEAUTIFUL-LOOKING COUNTRY--MY HUSBAND HAD TO WORK FOR 40 years BEFORE HE GOT 6 WEEKS OF PAID VACATION. In 2010, the company he now works for is going to pare that right down, and the pay will be substancially lower for new employees, too. Say, if someone is getting paid $28.00 an hour, the new employee will only get 3/4ths that amount from now on. They wwill also lose health insurance, and will have to put their own money into an account to pay doctors and prescrips, etc. The corporate higher ups will get huge boosts, and the working man--who does all the work, will just keep getting less and less and less. Also, they're going to offer packages to the older people, so they'll force them out and not have to pay anyone in the hourly job pool anything near what they were working. I love my ocuntry, but it's sad to see this happening in our community.

crrly said...

Saknar dig!! Hoppas att vi kan ses snart. Kom mitt mejl fram?


Kate said...

Enjoy your vacation!!!!!!!! Have fun!!! (And let me know when your yarn arrives so I know it made it there safely!) :kram:

zandria said...

I love the sound of those vacation rights! And I don't blame you a bit for going light on the blog posts for the next few weeks. I hope you have a great, relaxing time! :)