No registration for personnel leasing firms

In spring 1998, the Swedish Government announced that it will not follow the proposal of an official commission which recommended that firms which assign personnel to other employers should be required to register. The TCO white-collar trade union confederation has protested against the Government's decision.

Personnel leasing/secondment (personaluthyrning) is the Swedish term for the situation whereby persons under an employment contract with one firm are leased to work in another firm. It covers arrangements known variously as hiring-out of labour or temporary agency work in other countries. The practice was deregulated in Sweden in 1991. In 1993, the conservative-liberal-centre Government of the day repealed the requirement that such firms had to have a licence in order to operate.

In 1996, the Social Democrat Government appointed a commission, headed by county governor Björn Rosengren, a former president of the Confederation of Salaried Employees (Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation, TCO), to evaluate the effects of the deregulation and analyse the situation of the sector (SE9711152F).

The commission presented its final report in March 1997. According to the report, the main problem for the employees involved was the wide variability in earnings. Only part of the sector was covered by a collective agreement between the Swedish Federation of Trade, Commerce and Service (Svensk Handel och Tjänsteföretagen) and the Salaried Employees' Union (Tjänstemannaförbundet HTF, HTF) which guaranteed employees at least half the collectively agreed salaries every month. The commission suggested that firms leasing their employees should be registered by a separate council, consisting of representatives of the sector, unions and employers' organisations and three independent legal experts. Furthermore, in order to be registered, a firm should meet certain conditions.

Since the commission's report, more collective agreements have been signed. HTF is still the main actor on the trade union side but today there are also agreements signed by the Swedish Transport Workers' Union (Svenska Transportarbetareförbundet, Transport), the Swedish Metalworkers' Union (Svenska Metallindustriarbetareförbundet, Metall) and the Swedish Association of Health Officers (Vårdförbundet), which organises nurses, among others.

In addition, more of the firms have joined the Swedish Association of Temporary Work Businesses and Staffing Services (Svenska Personaluthyrnings- och Rekryteringsförbundet, SPUR), which is a trade organisation (not an employers' association) representing the leasing firms in contacts with the Government. "The firms we organise employ around 80% or 11,000 of all employees in the sector. Around 70% of them are working under collective agreements," says Torbjörn Rindås, managing director of SPUR.

The Government has now decided not to not follow the proposal that personnel leasing firms should be required to register, a decision announced in the spring budget bill for 1998. According to an official of the Ministry of Labour, the Government is, however, following the development of the sector closely.

TCO has protested against the Government's decision. The organisation argues that the position of women in particular in the labour market is weakened by the increased leasing of personnel combined with new forms of employment such as "agreed temporary employment".

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