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Most collective agreements found in the Swedish labour market expire at some point between March and May this year. Accordingly, collective agreement negotiations are well under way, with the parties in each sector negotiating the conditions and salaries that are to apply for the coming agreement period. It will come as no surprise that the discussions and standpoints are marked by inflation and concern about how it will affect employers and employees alike, both now and in the longer term.
The collective agreement negotiations already made history when the negotiating parties presented their demands. The unions' demand for a pay rise of 4.4 percent is historically high and, for the first time in the history of the Industry Agreement (Industriavtalet), the employers have presented a concrete salary offer (2 percent plus a one-off payment of SEK 3,000 for full-time employees). The one thing these parties already seem to agree on is the term of the new agreement (1 year), but as for the other aspects, such as the low wage initiative and individual guarantees, tough negotiations are expected. The Industry Agreement is first out of the blocks, and whatever the parties to this agreement finally settle on usually sets the tone for the remaining sectors.
What do employers need to keep in mind?
Since payroll is often a company's largest expense, it is a good idea to go through any information from the employers' organisation (which is usually the party representing you as an employer in the collective agreement negotiations), especially once the collective agreement has been finalised and signed.
An employer who is not a party to a collective agreement may still be obliged to conduct a salary review or even comply with a collective agreement. It depends on the wording of the employment contract between employer and employee. If you have not fully established your own position, it is high time you did so.
Important for employers to stay updated
As mentioned above, negotiations are well under way, and whatever the final outcome, as an employer you are obliged to fulfil your side of the agreement. This is important to avoid future problems with incorrect salaries. If any mistakes are made, it often results in payments to or from any employees who have received the wrong salary. Such corrections are rarely a pleasant surprise, especially for the party who has to pay. Breaching your collective agreement can also result in negotiations with trade unions, legal disputes, disgruntled employees and, not least, a damaged reputation.
What must employers do?
So, as an employer, how can you be sure not to overlook any changes in the new collective agreement? In addition to going through the information you receive from your representative in the negotiations, it is important that any new information regarding the collective agreement is shared with staff responsible for payroll and employees. If you have outsourced your payroll, you will also need to share the information with your provider.
Ask for help
As an Azets client, you always have the option of allowing us to help you understand the changes in your new collective agreement as well as to determine whether they have any impact on how salaries are calculated or whether the payroll process needs to be adapted to the new rules.
We are also able to offer advice on the HR aspects of collective agreements, such as changes in employment conditions as well as changes relating to pensions.
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