The threat of recession and mass job losses has prompted many governments to announce unprecedented support measures. Sweden has unveiled its own 300 billion kronor crisis package. But Eva Nordmark, the Minister for Employment, has also encouraged all workers in Sweden to join an a-kassa unemployment fund.
We’ve joined with Akademikernas a-kassa to give you five reasons why you should take her advice:
Sweden is well-known for providing a generous social safety net. But few expats arrive with much idea of how it all works in practice. A-kassa funds are a crucial part of the Swedish system, providing members with income-related unemployment benefits when needed.
Akademikernas a-kassa, one of the biggest funds, is specifically for people who graduated in higher education. Your profession is irrelevant. If you have a bachelor’s degree and work in Sweden, the fund is for you. Nor does it matter if you change your line of work or set up your own business; you can stay with the fund for your whole career. If you are working and currently studying for a bachelor’s degree, you can also join now.
It may be designed for people with above-average earning potential – but that doesn’t mean it’s expensive. The fee to join Akademikernas a-kassa is 110 kronor per month. Everyone pays the same rate because the fund has many members and unemployment among them is low.
It is sometimes necessary to be in an a-kassa to get a loan, for instance for a mortgage, from a bank, meaning you may get even more value for your money.
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New temporary rules introduced for 2020 due to the coronavirus have made the scheme even more generous. Now, you only need to be a member for three months (previously 12 months) before qualifying for payouts if you lose your job.
You can receive up to 80 percent of your previous salary with a ceiling of 1,200 kronor per day before tax (up from 910 kronor) for the first 100 days. If you had an average monthly salary of at least 33,000 kronor in the last year, you qualify for the maximum.
Benefits paid to qualifying members will also now begin from day one, rather than day seven. The maximum daily allowance is reduced to 760 kronor after the first 100 days.
You can receive payment for five days a week over a period of 300 days – that’s around 14 months. If you are a parent with children under 18, the maximum period is 450 days. Everyone who qualifies receives income-related benefits without any means-testing.
4. Covering the self-employed
Every economy needs its entrepreneurs. But in times of insecurity, the self-employed often feel they face extra burdens. This is no secret in forward-thinking Sweden; the self-employed have been entitled to join an a-kassa for almost 50 years.
As a member of Akademikernas a-kassa, if you start a business and it does not go as hoped your unemployment pay can be based on the income of your previous job (up to 24 months after leaving).
5. Nobody knows the future
There is no need to assume the worst will come to pass. But during a global crisis, there is every reason for individuals, as well as nations, to want to be prepared.
Looking further ahead, being a member of an a-kassa could offer you protection in all kinds of unexpected or unplanned situations. With Akademikernas a-kassa, you can even claim during time between jobs if you take things into your own hands some day and choose to switch careers.