Age discrimination

Last updated: 2/2-2023

About Sweden – an orientation about Swedish society.

This text is about age discrimination, which is when you do not get same opportunities as other people because of your age. It describes age discrimination at work and the obligations that employers have to prevent it. The text also includes examples of age discrimination at work and describes what you can do if you feel you are being discriminated against.

An illustration of four people next to each other holding CVs. The two oldest people have a red crosse above their heads.

You are entitled to a good life throughout your life. You are entitled not to suffer discrimination because of your age. You are also entitled to good health. You are entitled to social interaction, to an income and to security, regardless of how old you are. You are entitled to participate in society and to feel that you are in control of your life.

In Sweden, a healthy older person can live an active and meaningful life for many years.

Just as during other periods in your life, support and help are available when you grow old. This is known as care for the elderly and is part of the Swedish welfare state.

What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination, sometimes referred to as ageism, means that you do not get the same opportunities as others simply because you are younger or older than other people in the same situation. This can occur in education programmes, at work, in hospitals, in libraries or in other places where people of different ages participate in the same activity. Age discrimination is forbidden in Sweden, but there are exceptions. These usually apply to children and young people. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote or to buy alcohol or tobacco, for instance.

Discrimination at work

Young people as well as older people may suffer age discrimination. Age discrimination at work often involves employers thinking that older people are incapable of working as hard as younger people, or that younger people do not have the same amount of knowledge as older people.

Age discrimination at work is a major problem, both for the person subjected to it and for their employer. The retirement age in Sweden has been raised and will be raised again. Still, many people continue to find that they are passed over because of their age.

You are entitled to work until you turn 68. After that time, your employer has to agree to allow you to continue working. If you become unemployed, you are entitled to unemployment insurance payments until you turn 65.

Age discrimination can occur as early as your 40s when applying for work. More women than men suffer age discrimination.

What can employers and employees do to ensure no one suffers from age discrimination?

Get help

Sometimes, it is difficult to know whether you have been subjected to discrimination or not. It can also be difficult to prove that you have been discriminated against because of your age, for instance, if you did not get a job or were unable to get a bank loan. And sometimes you may be discriminated against for several different things at the same time, such as age and gender. The person discriminating against you may not be doing so consciously – but it can still be discrimination.

You can get help if you find that you are being discriminated against.

  • You can get advice and support from an anti-discrimination agency if one is available where you live.
  • If the discrimination occurs in your workplace, you can speak to your manager or your health and safety representative. Your employer has to investigate the issue and work towards preventing discrimination in the workplace.
  • If it happens in your workplace and you are a member of a trade union, the union can help you.

You can also submit tip-offs and complaints about discrimination to the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen). The Equality Ombudsman primarily uses tip-offs and complaints to ensure that the law is followed, not to resolve situations for individuals.

What can you do if you become subjected to discrimination?