EU Directives on part-time and fixed-term work implemented

Legislation implementing the EU Directives on part-time and fixed term work in Sweden came into force on 1 July 2002. The new law forbids discrimination in pay and employment conditions against part-time workers and workers on fixed-term contracts. Sweden has also recently ratified the 1994 ILO Convention on part-time work.

On 25 May 2002, parliament adopted legislation aimed at implementing EU Directives (97/81/EC) on part-time work (EU9706131F) and (1999/70/EC) on fixed-term work (EU9907181F), which subsequently came into force on 1 July 2002. The new law, proposed by the government in spring 2002 (2001/02:97), bans discrimination in terms of pay and or other employment conditions against part-time workers and workers on fixed-term contracts. The law applies to relationships between employers and employees and bans both direct and indirect discrimination. A worker who claims discrimination under the new legislation is required to present facts that give reason to believe that there has been some kind of discrimination. Thereafter the burden of proof passes to the employer (SE0106104N).

The legislative procedure was preceded by a thorough and long-lasting debate on whether or not the EU Directives might be implemented through collective agreements in Sweden. However, the social partners could not agree, with the employers especially opposed, and so the government decided on legislation in spring 2001. On 25 April 2002, shortly before parliament approved the new anti-discrimination legislation relating to part-time and fixed-term work, it ratified the 1994 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 175 on part-time work. The reason why Sweden did not ratify this Convention earlier related to the discussion on the relationship between legislation and collective agreements. It was generally considered, by the social partners as well as the government, that issues related to pay and working conditions should mainly be regulated by collective bargaining. As there were no guarantees at this stage that the same basic wage should be paid to part-time employees as to full-time employees doing the same jobs, the Swedish government considered that it could not fulfil the Convention's requirements. Now that the new anti-discrimination law has been adopted by parliament, requiring the same basic wage for all types of worker doing the same job, the earlier objections are no longer valid.

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