Your salary and how it is decided

Make a note of any tips and advice you can get before a salary review including information about parental pay, sick pay, other benefits and remunerations as well as salary comparisons, starting salary, etc.

Salary - remuneration for your work

Your salary is remuneration for the work or duties that you do or the services you that provide your employer with. The salary that you are paid as a new employee is something you discuss and negotiate with your employer. The salary you both agree on is then written into your contract of employment.

Salary levels are not regulated by law and salary tariffs are almost non-existent in the Swedish labour market.

When applying for a new job, you often get asked about your salary expectations. Most salaries are decided on an individual basis. How much salary you can ask for depends on what type of work you are meant to be doing, its degree of difficulty or complexity, responsibilities, your personal work capacity and performance and the average salary paid for similar types of work.

You salary will then evolve based on regular salary reviews. Your right to regular salary reviews is usually governed by a collective agreement in your industry or field of work. If the type of work you do is not covered by a collective agreement then your right to regular salary reviews should be included in the terms of your employment contract. Because there is no law to regulate people’s salaries or salary increases, it is up to you to monitor the situation and keep an eye on salary trends. 

Starting salary - when you start your first job

Unionen has compiled information about what starting salary you might expect in different types of work. Starting salaries are usually based on statistics and should be seen as an indication of what other new employees in the labour market earn for the same type of work. Starting salaries are only relevant if you are new in the labour market with little or no previous work experience. If you already have some previous work experience, check out Unionen’s Salary Trends (Information only available in Swedish ).

If the workplace where you are applying for a job is covered by a collective agreement, then your prospective future employer is not allowed to pay you anything less than the fixed minimum salary agreed under that collective agreement. Contact Unionen for more information. Please note that the information and advice we give you is primarily in Swedish. Information in English is available upon request.

Salary - including benefits and other remunerations

Apart from your salary, there are a number of other benefits that you ought to know about. Some of these are regulated by law, for example, sick pay and holiday pay. Other benefits fall under collective agreements such as overtime pay, unsocial hours pay (so-called ‘ ob-ersättning ’) and parental pay.

Sometimes you get the offer of waiving your right to overtime pay for a higher salary and/or more holiday. Please do not hesitate to contact Unionen for further information and advice if this happens.

Some collective agreements include rules on benefits such as subsidised lunches and health club memberships. Whether or not this type of subsidised benefits are available usually depends on the employer.

If the type of work you do is not covered by a collective agreement then make sure that the terms and conditions of other existing collective agreements are incorporated into your own contract of employment.

Variable salary

It is not uncommon for employees to have some form of variable salary in addition to their basic salary.  Commission based salary, performance based salary, piecework pay and bonus pay are all different types of variable salaries.

Employers often offer more than one type of variable salary. This is seen as an incentive for employees and a reward upon the completion of a specific task. Variable salaries are often linked to performance and results. They can also be linked to the performance and results of the company as a whole.

Variable salaries are not regulated by law and is something that you and your prospective future employer have to agree on. This is why it is important that all terms and conditions relating to you personally are included in your contract of employment.

Salary agreement - your right to salary growth and development

If there is a collective agreement in place where you work then you will be part of a salary agreement. The salary agreement constitutes your right to salary growth and development. It describes the grounds on which your salary should be decided and how you can influence that decision.

The salary agreement is negotiated centrally between Unionen and the employer’s organisation that organises and represents companies within a particular industry.

Your salary should be reviewed on an annual basis. This is usually done by way of an individual meeting with your Manager or HR Manager during which your salary is negotiated and discussed. Your individual salary negotiation or review will be based on the existing salary agreement. Most salary agreements give employees the right to an annual salary negotiation and review.

If the type of work you do is not covered by a collective agreement, you must take the initiative yourself and make certain that your salary is reviewed on a regular basis. 

Salary review - the most important meeting of the year in terms of your salary

Your salary review gives you the opportunity to influence your own personal salary. If there is a collective agreement in place at your work but there is no union club or union representative then you ought to take the initiative yourself and ask your employer for a meeting in order to discuss the possibility of a salary increase.

Come well prepared to the meeting and your chances of a salary increase will improve. 

Tips on how to ask for a salary increase

  • One of the most important aspects of preparing for your salary review is to have a clear picture of how you think you have performed in the past year. This is usually the most decisive factor in terms of what salary increase you will be offered.
  • Make use of Unionen’s Salary Trends (Information only available in Swedish) and try to make comparisons by talking to others.
  • Do not be afraid of asking for a salary increase - even if your employer is in a bit of a tricky situation financially. There may be a salary agreement that gives you the right to a salary increase regardless of whether or not the company is doing well.
  • If you are offered promotion or a new job within the same company or to extend your temporary employment or become permanently employed, you are in the best position to negotiate about a salary increase.

Pay discrimination

It is prohibited by law for an employer to discriminate. This also applies to salaries and salary structures. Salaries may be individual and differentiated but not unjustified. Even employees on parental leave are protected against pay discrimination through the Parental Leave Act.

If you feel that you are subject to pay discrimination - contact us at Unionen.

If your employer does not pay your salary

In the event that your employer does not pay you the salary that you are entitled to then you must ask Unionen for assistance. 

What Unionen can do to assist you

As a member of Unionen, we can assist you with the following:

  • Information about salary trends and statistics
  • Help if your employer does not pay the salary you are entitled to
  • Act on your behalf under the Equality Act, Parental Leave Act, Collective Agreement and your Employment Contract.

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.

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