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Military personnel have the same right as civilian workers to take leave for family reasons, which includes eighteen months of shared parental leave following the birth of a child, and 120 “care for ill children days.”  Leave need not always be paid and where it is the payment is generally made through a separate state agency, Försäkringskassan—not by the military itself. 

I. Introduction

Military service is voluntary in Sweden.[1] Both men and women serve and approximately 13% of military active personnel are women whereas 38% of the military’s civilian employees are women.[2] 

Leave for family reasons is governed by the Act on Parental Leave, which applies to all workers in Sweden, including members of the military.[3] Parental leave can be paid or unpaid depending on whether the parent has worked prior to the child being born, during a so-called qualifying period.  The legal right to parental leave is not dependent on whether the parent qualifies for payment during the leave period.

The payment of benefits is managed through a separate system administered by the National Agency for Social Insurance (Försäkringskassan).  When parental leave qualifies as paid parental leave it is not the military employer but Försäkringskassan that pays the parent.  In special circumstances the military pays a topping-off salary, which means that it compensates the employee so that he or she, instead of receiving 80% of his/her salary during the leave, receives as much as 90% of the salary up to a certain SEK (Swedish krona) threshold, which is set yearly.[4]

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II. Maternity Leave

Regardless of whether leave is paid or unpaid, every parent has the right to take the first eighteen months off work following the birth of a child.[5] Thereafter employers are only required to grant maternity leave if the mother is receiving paid leave through Försäkringskassan.[6]

Each child entitles the parents to a total of 480 days of paid parental leave designed to be used to care for the child.[7] Of these, three months (sixty work days) are reserved for the mother and father respectively, which means that if the mother does not use these three months then the father cannot use them instead, and vice versa.[8]

In addition the mother may use her maternity days prior to the birth of the child (up to seven weeks).[9] If no other leave is used the mother has a mandatory two weeks of leave in connection with the birth of the child.[10] Mothers also have the legal right to leave work to nurse the baby during the working day.[11] 

All Swedish working parents have a legal right to reduced working hours, by up to 25%, while their child is under eight years of age or completing their first grade in school.[12] Employees of the state (including the military) can request to have this reduction in hours extended until the child turns twelve.[13]

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III. Paternity Leave

Fathers have the same parental leave rights as mothers.[14] As noted above, they have three months of paid paternity leave, which can only be used by them and cannot be transferred to the mother.  Thus, if the father does not take at least three months off, the compensation from Försäkringskassan is lost.  For example, a father can take eighteen months of leave from the military immediately following the birth of his child but cannot receive more than 420 days of paid leave, as the Försäkringskassan reserves sixty days of leave to each parent. 

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IV. Adoption and Leave Rights

Adoptive parents have the same rights to parental leave as natural parents.  The right to eighteen months of parental leave that is granted to natural parents starting at the birth of the child starts on the day of receipt of the adopted child for adoptive parents.[15] However, this period ends when the child turns eight years old, regardless of when the adoption occurred.[16] Adoptive parents have the same right to care for a sick child as natural parents (see Part VI(A), below).

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V. Parental Leave

Homosexual partners to a mother have the same legal rights as fathers with regard to paternity leave (see Part III, above).

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VI. Family or Caregiver Leave

A.    Care for a Sick Child Under Twelve

All parents have the right to leave for the care of a sick child who is older than eight months and younger than twelve years.[17] Such leave is paid through the Försäkringskassan at the rate of 80% of the daily wage and limited to 120 days a year per child.[18] Although legally each parent has the right to take this form of leave, it is unlikely that a person crucial to the military would take such leave unless coordinated with the military.

B.     Care for a Child over Twelve

Under special circumstances parents also have the right to paid leave for the care of children who are older than twelve.[19] Examples are doctor visits where the parent must attend and more severe forms of illness that warrant extraordinary care.[20]

C.    Care for Other Family Members

All Swedish workers have the right to leave to provide care for a seriously ill family member and cannot be fired for taking leave for such care.[21] In addition, a member of the military may receive paid leave when there is a medical emergency within the family.[22] However, such leave is limited to ten days a year.[23]  

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VII. Bereavement

A.    Funeral

All Swedish workers have the right to leave in order to attend a funeral.  The military specifically lists funerals and bereavement as a reason to grant paid leave in their information packet for new employees.[24] Such paid leave is limited to ten days a year.[25]

B.     Estate Matters

Leave of up to ten days per year is also granted for the preparation of estate matters (calculated in conjunction with the days taken for the funeral).[26]

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Prepared by Elin Hofverberg
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
June 2014

[1] Vägen in, Försvarsmakten, (last visited June 25, 2014).  For a history of the transition from mandatory to voluntary military service in Sweden, see Värnplikt, Försvarsmakten, (last visited June 25, 2014).

[2] Behörighetskrav för GMU, Försvarsmakten, (last visited June 25, 2014); Historik, Försvarsmakten, (last visited June 25, 2014). 

[3] Föräldraledighetslag [Act on Parental Leave] (Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 1995:584),  

[5] Act on Parental Leave art. 5, para. 1.

[6] Id. art. 5, para. 2.

[7] Om föräldrapenning, Försäkringskassan, foraldrapenning/om_foraldrapenning (last visited June 25, 2014).

[8] Id.

[9] Act on Parental Leave art. 4.

[10] Id.

[11] Id. art. 4, para. 2.

[12] Id. art. 3, para. 4.

[13] See generally Arbetsgivarverket, supra note 4.

[14] See, e.g., Act on Parental Leave art. 5 (referring to the rights of the “parent” and not the “mother”).

[15] Id. art. 5, para. 3.

[16] Id.

[17] Om VAB och tillfällig föräldrapenning, Försäkringskassan, foralder/barnet_sjukt/om_vab/ (last visited June 25, 2014).

[18] Id.

[19] Om VAB – när barnet som fyllt 12 år men inte 16 år, Försäkringskassan, http://www.forsakringskassan. se/privatpers/foralder/barnet_sjukt/om_vab/vab_tolv_Ar/ (last visited June 25, 2014).

[20] Id.

[21] Art. 24 Lag om ledighet för närståendevård [Act on Leave for Care of Family Member] (SFS 1988:1465),; see also Socialförsäkringsbalk [Social Insurance Code] ch. 47,   

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

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Last Updated: 06/06/2015