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Sweden

There is no direct reference to the freedom of association in the Swedish NAP, but reference is made to freedoms generally, trade unions, and collective agreements.

1 The State duty to protect human rights [page 10]

Swedish legislation to protect human rights

“Human rights are protected in Swedish legislation primarily via the constitutional regulations in the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. An individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms are also expressed in other laws. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has been incorporated into Swedish law in its entirety and thus applies as Swedish law. When applying EU law, Sweden is obliged to follow the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The provisions contained in Swedish law relating to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are primarily aimed at public sector services within central government, municipalities and county councils. …

A typical feature of the Swedish labour market and the Swedish model is that the relationship between employer and employee is largely governed by collective agreements. These agreements often contain regulations that supplement and replace the procedures established by law. The most important act in the area of individual labour law is the Employment Protection Act (1982:80), which regulates how employment contracts may be entered into and terminated. This Act includes provisions stating that indefinite-term contracts should be the general rule but that fixed-term contracts can be mutually agreed in some cases. The Act also states that notice of termination of an indefinite-term employment contract must be based on objective grounds.

In the area of collective labour law, the Employment (Co-determination in the Workplace) Act (1976:580) is the main act. This Act regulates, for example, the right of employee organisations to participate in negotiations ahead of certain decisions by an employer, for example regarding significant operational changes. The Trade Union Representatives (Status at the Workplace) Act (1974:358) is also part of collective labour law. This Act contains regulations on the status of trade union representatives and the right to participate in trade union activities at individual workplaces. …”

2 The corporate responsibility to respect human rights [page 13]

“For a company’s employees, human rights in the workplace are particularly important. The right to participate in collective bargaining and the right to form or join free trade unions are examples of such rights. Special measures should be taken to identify and prevent anti-union policies or actions. This applies both in Sweden and abroad. In some countries it may be difficult for employees to assert their human rights in the workplace.”

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