The labour market

Last updated: 6/12-2022

There are a large number of laws and agreements that regulate how people work in Sweden. The laws and regulations that apply between employers and employees are called labour law. The labour market is divided up into two sides: employers and national trade unions. A national trade union is an organisation of all the trade unions in the same industry.


There are employer organisations for central government, local government and private employers. An employer organisation is an organisation in which several employers have come together to work on matters of common interest.

The largest private employer organisation is Sweden is the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. The Swedish Agency for Government Employers is for central government employers, such as Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency) and the Swedish Tax Agency. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) organises employers in local government.

A company can choose if it wants to be a member of an employer organisation.

Trade unions

A trade union is an organisation that negotiates with an employer about its members' wages. Trade unions work to improve the situation of their members at work. Most workplaces have a trade union branch or a workplace representative.

Most workplaces have a trade union branch or a workplace representative. A trade union branch is a group of members of a union at a workplace. A workplace representative is a person who speaks for a union's members at a workplace.

Trade union branches and workplace representatives are members of national trade unions. These national bodies are themselves members of an even larger organisation such as LO, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. It is not uncommon to be a member of both a trade union and an unemployment insurance fund, A-kassa. An unemployment insurance fund is an economic association that gives money to its unemployed members.

Collective agreements

A collective agreement is a written agreement between an employer and a trade union. A collective agreement contains rules about working hours, leave and wages, for example. It is often a collective agreement that governs your wage. But not all organisations or companies have a collective agreement.

A collective agreement decides the size of the minimum wage for employees. The agreement also applies to employees who are not members of a trade union but work in a workplace that has a collective agreement. In Sweden there is no law saying how low minimum wages may be.