Coronavirus – frequently asked questions

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

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, a-kassa

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.

Pensions

This depends on what is stated in the local collective agreement and whether the employer registers a regular pensionable salary. Contact your employer to see exactly what applies with regard to your occupational pension.

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.

For members who are studying and receiving study finance

The government has announced that you may retain your study finance even if your school closes due to the new coronavirus. From March 18, the government recommends that all upper secondary schools, adult education, vocational colleges and universities in Sweden cease teaching on school premises.

As far as possible, schools are to switch to distance education, but even if your school closes due to the new coronavirus, you are entitled to keep financial study support that you have been granted. The Swedish Board of Student Finance, CSN will continue to pay your student support as usual and you do not need to contact them or do anything else.

The latest updated information can be found on the CSN website.

 

The systematic processes regarding work environment include an obligation for the employer to investigate whether there is any risk that employees may be exposed to infection and to take action if such a risk exists.

As a part of these precautionary measures, some employers are sending employees home. Our advice at present is that any employee who has been ordered to go home should continue to receive their salary as usual. The employee is then obviously obliged to be at the employer's disposal by carrying out, or being prepared to carry out, from home the work tasks assigned by the employer.

In the event that the employer cites the fact that the coronavirus was classified as a public health hazard under the Communicable Diseases Act on February 1 2020 and, (in accordance with certain collective agreements), requires an employee to refrain from work due to the risk of spread of infection, (for example after returning from travel), without pay and should instead receive disease carrier’s allowance from the Social Insurance Office, each case should be assessed individually.

The basic rule is that the employer cannot in normal circumstances force anyone to stay at home without pay.

If this has happened to you or you have questions that have not been answered adequately above, please contact our members’ support service and we will be happy to help you.

Contact us

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

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.

E-mail: forhandling@sverigesingenjorer.se

Background Information

The coronavirus

Coronavirus is a collective name for a large number of viruses. In early 2020, a new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, was confirmed in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) decided to change the name of the virus to SARS-CoV-2, and the disease caused by the virus was named covid-19.

At the request of the Swedish Public Health Agency, the Swedish government issued a regulation that came into force on February 2, 2020, meaning that the provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act are to apply to the coronavirus.


The Communicable Diseases Act

The Communicable Diseases Act imposes an obligation on anyone who knows or has reason to suspect that they are carrying a disease classed as a public health hazard to seek medical attention without delay, (Chapter 3, Section 1, Paragraph 1 of the Communicable Diseases Act) and allows County Medical Officers to decide on health checks at the port of entry to the country, (Chapter 3, Section 8, Paragraphs 1 & 2 of the Communicable Diseases Act).

The County Medical Officer may also decide that a person who has or can be presumed to have been infected should be quarantined, (Chapter 3, Section 9, Paragraph 1 of the Communicable Diseases Act). The County Medical Officer also has the power in certain circumstances to decide that an infected person be isolated, (Chapter 5, Section 1 of the Communicable Diseases Act).

The legislation in question does not give any rights to an employer. It only regulates the relationship between the individual and the general public. Absence from work due to quarantine or isolation decisions made under this Act constitute lawful absence and therefore cannot be used as a basis for any labour law measures.

Disease Carrier’s Allowance

Disease carrier’s allowance can be paid to employees who are able to work but are not allowed to do so because of the risk of infecting others. Employees who cannot work may be entitled to sick pay from the employer or sickness benefit from the Försäkringskassan, Social Insurance Office. Disease carrier’s allowance is regulated by Chapter 46 of the Social Insurance Code (2010:110). In order to be entitled to disease carrier’s allowance, the employee needs a medical certificate showing that he or she may not work because of the risk of spreading infection.

 

Senast uppdaterad 2020-04-17