Covid -19 – frequently asked questions

Here you will find the most common questions and answers about the coronavirus in relation to our area of ​​work.

Return to the office

Going back to the office, continue working from home and getting vaccinated?

Yes, the employer has a right and obligation to manage and direct staff, and that includes deciding where work is to be carried out and thus also how much of the work or which tasks are to be done from the office. However, the Swedish Public Health Agency has recommended a gradual return to the workplace, so if you have concerns about going back to the office, you should discuss it with your employer and see if you can find a solution regarding your return to the workplace, at least for a transition period. 

No, no one can be forced to be vaccinated against their will. Vaccination is a significant intrusion on bodily integrity. The integrity of the individual carries great weight, and measures taken in the workplace to reduce the risk of spread of infection must never be disproportionate. There must therefore always be consideration given to whether the employer can reduce the risk of the spread of infection in a less intrusive way than by requiring vaccination. Such measures may include continued social distancing, continued work from home, the provision of protective equipment and hand sanitiser or enhanced cleaning routines. 

However, the assessment of appropriate measures in such situations must be based on the unique conditions of each workplace. It can therefore not be ruled out that, in exceptional cases, employees in certain areas of the labour market who choose not to be vaccinated may need to be reassigned to other work. Such a measure requires negotiation with the trade union. 

Your employer has responsibility for your work environment regardless of where your work is performed. However, there is no detailed regulation on what equipment is required in the home workplace, and consideration must be taken of whether working from home is voluntary or not and to what extent working from home occurs. In practice, it is difficult for an employer to inspect and control the work environment when employees work at home, and you must raise any problems or risks you see regarding your work environment. In the dialogue with your employer, you should discuss any equipment that you need to borrow from the workplace or to have in your home workplace. This is also a matter that the union should raise with the employer in the context of the needs of both the organisation and the individual employees. 


 

As an employee, you are covered by a statutory occupational injury insurance and, if your employer has a collective agreement, by a collectively agreed insurance, (TFA), through the insurance company Afa. The regulations covering whether an accident is to be considered an occupational injury and thus can be compensated through the insurance when working from home is not as extensive and it depends on whether the accident is in clear and direct connection with the work performed. This means that an accident that occurs during a break from work in your home can be more difficult to class as an occupational injury, but all accidents that occur when performing the work itself are covered by the insurance, regardless of where the work is performed. 

Yes, if your employer decides that your work is to be performed from the workplace, you cannot demand to work from home. If you do not come to the workplace despite a clear instruction to do so, your absence is regarded as unauthorised, and you run the risk of losing your job. However, there should be scope to reach agreement with your employer about how to manage a return to work that feels safe. In their systematic work environment work, employers must assess any risk of ill health or infection at work and take appropriate preventive measures in collaboration with the health and safety representative. Bear in mind, however, that an employer does not have the right to check which employees have been vaccinated and which have not. 

 

No, your employer has the right to decide on where your work is to be performed. But if you were able to work efficiently from home during the pandemic, and in light of the Public Health Agency’s special recommendations to unvaccinated people to continue to be careful and avoid crowded areas, there should be scope for you to agree with your employer to continue working from home for a while. 

Yes, you can get help from the union to have a dialogue with your employer in order to have a more flexible working life at your workplace and for you as an individual. Ultimately, it is the employer who decides where and when work is to be performed within the framework of your employment contract. But many employers have found that things have worked very well during the pandemic when many people have been working from home, so there should be good opportunities to find ways of working that offer greater flexibility for employees. It should also be an important competitive advantage for employers who offer such solutions in the future. 

The employer has a work environment responsibility and an obligation to prevent infection and ill health in the workplace, so may ask that question. We also believe that an open dialogue between managers and staff provides the foundation for creating a good working environment and ensuring the needs of the business are met, as well as those of the individual. You have no obligation to answer questions about your health as long as they are not related to an ongoing rehabilitation. An employer does not have the right to document which employees have been vaccinated, as any such handling of sensitive personal data would constitute a breach of data protection legislation (GDPR).

Due to illness

Frequently asked questions, about sick-leave, vab,

The government has decided that the qualifying period for sick leave is to be suspended for the period 11 March to 11 May. You may therefore apply for reimbursement from the state retroactively for the first day of absence from work due to illness. The application is to be made retroactively to Försäkringskassan, the Social Insurance Office. Your employer will make any qualifying day deduction as usual, and it will be your responsibility to seek compensation yourself.

You can only take temporary parental leave to take care of a child (VAB) if your child is ill. If you need to be at home because the preschool/school is closed, you should contact your immediate manager to discuss the possibility of working from home. If it is not possible for you to work from home, you and your immediate manager need to agree that you can take holiday leave, reduce your working time or take leave without pay. Municipalities have an obligation to provide childcare, so contact your municipality for more information on how this will be arranged where you live.

If your employer says that you must stay at home for two weeks without pay to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus, you must notify the employer clearly that you are at the employer's disposal and able to carry out your work and at the same time make it clear that you are entitled to salary during the specified period.

In addition to contacting the health care service, you need to report sick leave according to the normal rules that apply at your workplace. You are then entitled to sick pay.

No, that is a decision that must be made in consultation with your employer.

Disease carrier’s allowance can be paid to you if you are able to work but are not allowed to do so because of the risk of infecting others. If you cannot work, you may be entitled to sick pay from your employer or sickness benefit from Försäkringskassan, the Social Insurance Office. In order to be entitled to disease carrier’s allowance, you need a medical certificate that shows that you are not allowed to work because of the risk of spreading infection. You can apply for disease carrier’s allowance through the Social Insurance Office.

Yes, that is the employer's decision. Many employers follow the recommendations of the Public Health Agency and encourage employees who feel ill not to come to the workplace.

No, an employer can never force you to do any bodily tests. However, an infectious disease doctor may do so.

It has been proposed that the state temporarily take the full cost of all sick pay in April and May. Self-employed people will also receive compensation by receiving a standardized sickness benefit for sick-leave days 1-14.

At present, you are obliged to go to work. We recommend, however, that you and your employer discuss how to resolve the situation in a way that is good for both you and your employer. We find that many employers take their employees' concerns seriously and try to find solutions.

The government has temporarily decided to suspend the requirement for medical certificates in order to receive sick pay.

If a medical doctor considers that a healthy employee is a potential transmitter of infection, disease carrier’s allowance may be payable. If you are entitled to disease carrier’s allowance, your employer is not obliged to pay salary or sick pay. In some collective agreements, you may be entitled to receive supplementary compensation if you receive disease carrier's allowance.

Agreements on health checks can be included in collective agreements or in individual employment contracts. If there is such an agreement and the employee refuses to be tested, this may be a breach of contract that can lead to proceedings under labour law.
If there is no such agreement, the employer has a work environment responsibility that includes the protection of employees from infection, and they must then strike a balance between that obligation i.e. the employer's interest in maintaining an infection-free work environment, and the integrity of employees. As is the case now with corona/covid-19, a greater degree of intervention than normal may be justified, but at the same time, a temperature check must be proportionate to what the employer wants to achieve with the test. If the employee refuses to be tested and thus, after this balance of interests has been made, is unable to work at the workplace, for example, this can also lead to proceedings under labour law and ultimately be grounds for dismissal.

Travelling

Frequently asked questions about travelling och going abroad.

Traveling away from home is obviously ok but as an employee, you need to know what dates have been agreed on for a return to the workplace. If the union and the employer have agreed on a return to work at short notice, you are bound by this.

You should also follow the Swedish Public Health Agency’s recommendations on travel.

According to the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act, you are obliged to contact a doctor immediately if you suspect infection. The Communicable Diseases Act states that every individual is to contribute to prevention of the spread of infectious diseases through vigilance and by taking reasonable precautions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against all unnecessary travel during the period of March 14-April 14. If you disregard the Ministry's travel recommendations, you may be considered to be in breach of this obligation and therefore not be entitled to salary when you return home if you are denied access to the workplace due to the risk of infection. This is on condition that your employer clearly communicated this before your departure. In such a situation, your employer may grant holiday leave with your consent instead of making salary deduction.

If, on the other hand, if it is not made clear to you before departure that this may occur, then Sveriges Ingenjörers’ position is that, in the light of the Swedish Public Health Agency’s assessment that the virus is not transmitted during the incubation period, you are to be regarded as at your employer's disposal with the right to your normal salary, even if the employer does not allow its employees to work in the workplace because of the risk of infection.

If you feel ill after travelling, you must register for sick leave according to the normal rules and contact the health care service. An employee who is absent from work due to illness is entitled to sick pay.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against unnecessary travel to all countries during the period March 14-April 14. The Ministry’s official advice means that you may be entitled to receive reimbursement for travel that has been paid for, but insurance cover does not normally apply if you travel despite the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Contact your insurance company to find out how you can claim compensation. Also, bear in mind that if you travel against the recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and are then are refused access to the workplace because of the risk of infection, you may risk being left without pay during the period you are in quarantine if you cannot work from home.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against unnecessary travel to all countries during the period March 14-April 14. This means that if you choose travel during this period anyway, you may be considered to be in violation of those recommendations and your obligation to strive to not spread the infection. You will therefore not be entitled to receive salary after returning home if you are denied access to the workplace due to the risk of infection. This is on condition that your employer communicated this clearly before your departure. In such a situation, your employer may grant holiday leave with your consent instead of making salary deduction.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official advice means that you may be entitled to receive reimbursement for travel that has been paid for, but insurance cover does not normally apply if you travel despite the advice of the Ministry.

If you have booked travel and the employer intends to change the annual holiday schedule and therefore indirectly causes you not to be able to travel as planned, you must inform the employer clearly that you will suffer financial loss if the employer changes the annual holiday schedule. However, we recommend that you follow the employer's changed annual holiday schedule if this happens.

Working hours and labour law

Frequently asked questions about short-time work, salary, vacation, unemployment

With the aim of saving Swedish jobs, the government has introduced reduced hours lay-offs from 16 March. The proposal means that the employer's salary costs can be reduced by half as a result of the state covering for a major proportion. It is similar to short-time working, but the degree of subsidy has been greatly increased. The employee will receive over 90 per cent of the normal salary. This will apply from 16 March but will come into force on 7 April and will be applicable throughout 2020.

The government has provided the following example of how costs for short-time lay-offs will be shared: “The proposal means that an employee with a monthly salary of SEK 32,700 who reduces working time to 40 per cent will be able to retain 92.5 per cent of the normal salary, i.e. SEK 30,200. At the same time, the employer's costs for the employee will be reduced to 47.5 percent, from 43,000 for salary and employer contributions to SEK 20,425. The state will cover the remaining part of the cost, i.e. SEK 19,350, which corresponds to 75 per cent of the total cost of the reduction in working hours.”

No, your duty of loyalty to the employer remains. This means that you are not entitled to take other employment during any period of short-time work with state aid unless it is specifically agreed with your employer.

 

The basic rule that applies if you are ordered to stay at home by your employer because the employer deems that there is a risk of you transmitting coronavirus infection after you have travelled abroad is that you are to be considered as being available to the employer. The employer is therefore obliged to pay your salary. This applies regardless of where you travelled. An employer is not deemed to be able to successfully claim that, by travelling, an employee has put himself or herself in a situation where they are unable to work.

If a doctor believes that you are at risk of spreading infection, even though you are currently in good health, you may be eligible for disease carrier’s allowance. You can apply for disease carrier’s allowance through Försäkringskassan, the Social Insurance Office. If you are entitled to receive the allowance, the employer is not obliged to pay salary or sick pay. In some collective agreements, it is possible to receive supplementary compensation while receiving disease carrier's allowance.

Yes, the employer has the right to do this. It falls within the scope of the employer’s role and obligation to manage and direct staff. It is up to your local union representative to check that there are not be too many control measures introduced, as they might become an additional administrative burden for you. In addition, the working environment will not be very pleasant if people feel they are being monitored.

You do not have the right to unemployment benefit if the reduction in working hours is due to participation in a short time work program where the employer is entitled to support in accordance with the Support for Short-time Work Act. However, any period of short-time working is disregarded if you apply for unemployment benefit afterward. This means that the compensation level will be based on the income you had before the short-time working period.

It is not possible for the employer to unilaterally decide to lower your salary. A salary reduction can only be considered if you and the employer have agreed on it. However, if the employer is unable to pay the agreed salary to its employees, redundancies due to lack of work may become a possibility.

If you and your employer agree to reduce your salary, it is important that you also bear in mind that your salary is the basis for a variety of other benefits, such as your sickness benefit level, your pension provisions, and your unemployment benefit level. The amount of compensation you can receive from Sveriges Ingenjörers’ income insurance and any salary guarantee compensation is also affected by any new salary level. Therefore, if you have agreed to a reduced salary and are then made redundant, your situation will be worse than if you had not made such an agreement. In general, we, therefore, advise members not to make individual agreements about reduced salary.

As the possibility to use short-time lay-offs has now been introduced, employers who have signed collective agreements will probably not have to negotiate reduced salary agreements with their employees. You can read more about short-time working here.

 

The Swedish Annual Leave Act states that it is ultimately the employer who decides how holiday leave is to be scheduled if you are unable to agree. However, the employer has an obligation to consult with you regarding the scheduling of your annual holiday leave. In addition, according to the law, employees have the right to take their main holiday as four consecutive weeks during the period from June to August. If you are not able to agree on the timing of your holiday, the employer must notify you when you are to take holiday leave at least two months before the start of the holiday period. In extreme circumstances, the notice of holiday leave may be given no later than one month in advance. However, in our opinion, the current situation does not constitute an extreme circumstance in relation to the Annual Leave Act. It is therefore not possible for an employer to force an employee to take holiday leave at short notice without breaking the provisions of the Act.

The employer must keep the employee organisation informed in situations where any tests are considered. The issue should also be dealt with in health and safety or work environment committees where these exist. In cases where the employer does not consult with the employee organisation or initiate negotiations on its own initiative, the PTK work environment group recommends that the local employee organisation initiate a negotiation with the support of Section 12 of the Co-determination Act (MBL).

Read more.

Notice of redundancy or dismissal

Should you be given notice of redundancy or dismissal, it is important that you contact your local union representative or the local union office club/academic association. If you do not have a local union representative, contact our members’ support service. You can read more about redundancy and termination here.

Miscellaneous

If you are not allowed or do not want to hold physical meetings, you can of course hold annual meetings, board meetings and member meetings remotely. If the prevailing circumstances mean that you are unable to conduct the annual meeting before the deadline set out in the statute, the Association Board of Sveriges Ingenjörer has decided to grant an exemption to allow postponement of the annual meeting until later in the year.

Contact us

If you have any questions or need help, please contact our ombudsmen.

E-mail: forhandling@sverigesingenjorer.se

Phone:

08-613 80 00

Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday 8.30–16.30
Friday 8.30–16.00
Closed for lunch 11.30–12.30

 

Senast uppdaterad 2021-09-30
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