Types of employment on the Swedish labour market

When you are offered a new job, it is important to know what type of employment you are actually offered - if it is for an indefinite period of time or on a fixed-term basis - because different rules apply when, for example, it comes to ending the employment.

  • Employment for an indefinite period of time (generally referred to as permanent employment) is when your employment runs from the day when you start your new job until the day when either you or your employer ends the employment.
  • Fixed-term employment is when the start and end dates of your employment are determined in advance.

Under the general rules of the Employment Protection Act and collective agreements, a contract of employment applies until further notice. Fixed-term employments such as probationary or temporary employments are consequently exempt from this rule.

The Employment Protection Act and collective agreements regulate the forms of fixed-term employment allowed. When there is a collective agreement in place, all fixed-term employments apply in accordance with this.

Contact Unionen if you have questions relating to your own type of employment. Please note that the information and advice we give you is primarily in Swedish. We can usually give you the same information and advice in English but this does depend on staff availability. Unfortunately, we cannot promise any other languages but please contact us and we will do our best to assist you.

Employment for an indefinite period of time

If you are employed for an indefinite period of time then there is no fixed date for when your employment might end. Instead, your employment will continue until you yourself or your employer wants to end it. Employment for an indefinite period of time is often referred to as permanent employment.

When you or your employer would like your employment to end, a certain period of notice will apply. Read more about different notice periods here. In order for the termination of an employment to be valid, the employer must have so-called ‘objective grounds for dismissal‘ (information only available in Swedish).

Fixed-term employment

A fixed-term employment means that the employment runs for a limited period of time, that is, from a certain start date until a certain predetermined end date.

Different fixed-term employments

The Employment Protection Act allows for fixed-term employments to be entered in connection with special temporary employment, a temporary post, seasonal work or when the employee is aged 68 or over.

Under certain conditions a fixed-term employment can pass into an employment for an indefinite period of time.

Probationary employment

The Employment Protection Act also allows for fixed-term probationary employments for a maximum period of 6 months. Unless the employer or employee terminates or gives notice to terminate a probationary employment prematurely, the employment shall become permanent. Probationary employment is an insecure form of employment. Read more about probationary employment here (information only available in Swedish).

Collective agreements may contain other rules

It is worth noting that where there is a collective agreement in place then this will replace and/or supplement the rules of the Employment Protection Act on fixed-term employment.

Hourly based employment

Hourly based employment is not a valid form of employment under the Swedish law. Nor is it a form of employment that exists in our collective agreements. However, there are often no rules on how short a fixed-term employment can be. For example, if you are asked to work for three hours one day and three hours another day, it is legally seen as two separate fixed-term employments.

Yet, many employers continue to employ on an hourly basis. This normally means that you must be available to work, often full-time, during certain hours. Your actual working hours depends, however, on the requirements of your employer. People working on an hourly basis only get paid for the time when they actually work and not for time when they might be idle or there is not much work to do.

Hourly based employment is an insecure form of employment because you must always be prepared to work but never know in advance exactly when or for how long you will be working.

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