The Swedish social system and maternity leave (föräldraledighet) are among the most generous in the world. The government gives new mothers plenty of options to support themselves while caring for a child. This is possible thanks to the high economic development of Sweden.
In Sweden, a parent is entitled to full-time leave for the care of a child until the child reaches 18 months. Mothers who give birth or adopt a child can have up to 480 days of fully paid maternity leave.
Aside from that, Sweden is one of the first countries to walk the talk regarding gender equality. Each parent has the right to 240 days of parental leave if both mothers and fathers decide to take them.
If the adopted child was born in 2016 or later, each parent has 90 days set aside exclusively for them. However, should one parent decide not to take their leave, they can’t transfer them to their partner.
Maternity leave in Sweden for foreigners: Guide
Study findings from the World Bank indicate that sufficient maternity leave can reduce infant mortality rates, increase breastfeeding rates, and benefit mothers’ health.
If you are a foreigner who decided to relocate to Sweden and eventually gave birth there, you may be entitled to paid maternity leave or mammaledighet. The trade-off is that you should have been working legally in the country for not less than 240 days and paying your taxes.
In Sweden, parental leave is divided into 6 different types:
- Full-time leave for a female employee – maternity leave to give birth and while breastfeeding
- Full-time leave for a parent until the child has reached the age of 18 months
- Part-time leave with parental benefit – reduction of regular working hours by 75%, 25%, 1/8, while the parent is receiving the parental benefit
- Part-time leave without parental benefit – reduction of normal working hours by up to 25% until the child has reached the age of eight
- Leave with temporary parental benefit – leave to temporarily care for a child
- Full-time leave or reduction of normal working hours by 50% if the mother receives a child allowance
*without parental benefit means, you won’t get a subsidy from the state.
To receive maternity benefits, you should also have Swedish Social Insurance Coverage. Your employer doesn’t pay the cost of your parental leave benefit. The Social Insurance Administration (Försäkringskassan) is the one covering it.
If the conditions mentioned above are satisfied, you will qualify for 480 days of full-time maternity leave. You will get 80% of your salary for the first 390 days. Afterward, the amount will go down to SEK 180 or $18 per day for the remaining 90 days.
You can take parental leave starting 60 days before the expected birth. In Sweden, working women are entitled to full leave at least seven weeks prior to the estimated birth date and seven weeks after the delivery.
The number of days for maternity leave is only applicable in two scenarios. First is if you gave birth to your child or adopted one in the country. The other is when you move with your child after their first year.
One more thing concerning Sweden’s maternity benefit. They will reduce your Swedish maternity benefit from any similar benefit from your home country.
Tailor your maternity leave to your preferences. Whether it’s once a week or in hourly increments, it’s your choice until your child is 12.
How to apply for Swedish Social Insurance Coverage for foreigners?
In this section, you can find out how to qualify for Swedish Social Insurance Coverage before moving to Sweden. The information applies to foreign nationals who move to Sweden and Swedish citizens who return to Sweden after staying abroad for some time.
It does not apply to workers sent here by foreign employers or to students who want to study here.
1. Submit your information to Försäkringskassan
After registering in the Swedish National Population Register, Försäkringskassan will contact you if you move to Sweden with children under 16. This step is essential so they can investigate whether you and your children should be insured here and, therefore, eligible for child allowance.
If you move to Sweden without children, you can provide information to Försäkringskassan if you wish to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a benefit or allowance.
If you move to Sweden without first being registered, you must provide Försäkringskassan with information. The data from your registration is necessary so they can investigate whether you should be insured in the country.
2. Register with the Swedish Tax Agency
After supplying Försäkringskassan with your information, they will assess if they should cover you in Sweden. If they deem you qualified, the next step is to register with the Swedish Tax Agency. This step is essential, especially if you will be working in the country.
Furthermore, registering with the Swedish Tax Agency means you will be part of the Swedish population register.
After doing these two steps, you will enjoy medical and dental care under the same condition as those living here. It means you only have to pay the standard patient fee for healthcare in the public healthcare system. In addition, you will enjoy the country’s very generous maternity leave system.
Who is eligible for maternity leave in Sweden?
According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, as long as you are under the coverage of the Swedish Social Insurance, you are entitled to maternity leave if you are a:
- Expat or an employee
- Same-sex parent
If your child is born in Sweden, you are entitled to a period of complete freedom from work. You can take this leave seven weeks before and seven weeks after giving birth if you’re pregnant.
When the child turns 18 months old, you are eligible to be entirely away from your job. You can take parental leave until your child’s eighth birthday or first year of school to be totally off work. Moreover, you are eligible to reduce your working hours by up to 25%.
During a calendar year, you may take up to three periods of maternity leave. Depending on your agreement with your employer, you may divide your maternity leave into several periods.
Process of applying for maternity leave in Sweden
When taking maternity leave, you must inform your employer at least two months before. Some workplaces require parental leave to be notified earlier or later under the terms of collective agreements. Be sure to check with your employer.
Benefits during maternity leave in Sweden
1. Maternity benefit
Your benefit depends partly on your income before the child was born and how many days of parental leave you take.
You can calculate how much you will receive using Föräldrakollen (the Parent’s Calculator) on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s website. Generally speaking, you will receive:
Amount of benefit:
During the first 390 days of parental benefit, the amount is paid according to the sickness benefit rate. This amount can be between SEK 250-1,021 ($25 to $102.45) per day. Afterward, for the remaining 90 days, you will get SEK 180 ($18) per day.
The Social Security Agency calculates benefits based on incomes below ten times the price base amount based on the sickness benefit level. Anything over the price base amount in 2021 is excluded.
You must have had sickness cash benefits over SEK 180 per day for 240 days before the anticipated birth date. This guarantees the sickness benefit qualifying allowance from the first day of parental leave.
You will receive SEK 250 ($25) per day if you have worked less than 240 days, have been unemployed, or earned less than SEK 117,590 ($11,799.46) a year. This is known as the parental benefit at the basic level.
How to apply?
Notification and application are the two steps in applying for parental benefits. First, you should notify your employer that you will be taking leave and then complete your application.
You can use e-ID to plan, notify and apply via My Pages on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s website. You can also apply by filling up a form.
2. Temporary parental benefit
If your child is sick, you can get compensation for staying home or refraining from working to care for your child. It’s called temporary parental benefit. Your child must be between 8 months and 12 years old to qualify for this benefit.
However, in some cases, the benefit may apply regardless of whether the child is younger or older. Ideally, you should have lost sickness benefit qualifying income (SGI) and be insured in Sweden.
Amount of benefit:
The temporary parental benefit is calculated on incomes below 7.5 price base amounts. This equals around 80% of your monthly income based on your hours and days of work.
How to apply?
To receive the benefit, you must wait until you return to work before applying for the benefit. You can apply by going to My Pages on Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency website if you have an e-ID. If you don’t have the e-ID, you must submit the Swedish Social Insurance Agency form you received.
Adoption benefits are generally the same as maternity benefits when you give birth. You can receive the parental benefit upon obtaining a child into your care. How long you can get the help will depend on when the child is placed under your care.
However, it should not go beyond the child’s 12th birthday.
You can also receive a temporary parental allowance if you are adopting. Each parent is entitled to 10 days, but these can be transferred between them.
Moreover, you get 180 extra days per child if you adopt more than one child simultaneously.
Amount of benefit:
The identical sums and days apply to adoptive parents as to biological parents.
How to apply?
You should send the Social Welfare Committee’s adoption consent as soon as you receive the decision about your child. Next, you need to apply for a parental allowance. You may use your e-ID to do this online, or you can also submit a physical form.
4. Pregnancy cash benefit
A pregnancy cash benefit may be available if you cannot work owing to a dangerous or difficult profession. You must meet three criteria to qualify. First, you must take at least 25% of your workday off.
Next, your employer must not also have a choice to give you an easier or less risky job. Last but not least, you must also be insured in Sweden.
Amount of benefit:
You will receive approximately 80% of your salary or 7.5 times the base price multiplied by 0.97, which is a conversion factor. However, the maximum amount available is SEK 759 ($76) before taxes.
How to apply?
To apply, you must go to the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Additionally, your employer must provide a reference.
How long is maternity leave in Sweden?
In Sweden, mothers who give birth or adopt a child can have up to 480 days of paid maternity leave. However, you can take up to 18 months of parental leave.
How long do you have to work in Sweden to get maternity leave?
To qualify for a paid maternity leave, you should have been working in Sweden for at least 240 days. The amount of time you have worked in Sweden might limit your maternity benefits.
You only receive SEK 250 ($25) per day if you have worked less than 240 days, been unemployed, or earned less than SEK 117,590 ($11,799.46) a year. Maternity benefits increase with employment and social security contributions.
How much money do you get per child in Sweden?
In Sweden, you will get 80% of your current salary for the first 390 days. The amount will be reduced to SEK 180 or $18 per day for the remaining 90 days.
During the first 390 days, the maternity benefits can be between SEK 250-1,021 ($25 to $102.45) but not more per day.
Sweden provides SEK 250 ($25) per day to female employees with less than 240 days of work experience, unemployment, or earnings below SEK 117,590 ($11,799.46) annually.
You can calculate how much maternity benefits you will receive using Föräldrakollen (the Parent’s Calculator) on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s website.
Job protection during your maternity leave in Sweden
Swedish job protection ensures that employers cannot terminate female employees during parental leave.
If it happens and the employer decides to fire you solely for reasons related to parental leave, the notice of termination can be considered invalid. You have all right to keep your job.
Furthermore, if you have a physically demanding job, your employer must transfer you to another work type or assign alternative duties while preserving your employment benefits. This applies to a female employee who is expecting a child.
The right to transfer, however, applies only from and including the sixtieth day before the estimated delivery date.
However, collective bargaining agreements might specify different information, allowing for exceptions to parental leave rules regarding:
- The period when employees must notify about their return to work
- The period when the employer can postpone your return to work
Moreover, employers might change the set rules on the distribution of parental leave and the prohibition of disfavourable treatment.
When should you inform your employer?
Employees must notify their employers at least two months before the maternity leave. Pregnant workers have the right to take parental leave, 60 days left until the scheduled birth.
Maternity leave during the probation period
During the probation period, you can also receive paid maternity leave, assuming you meet the basic requirement for social benefits (having worked for at least 240 days in Sweden).
However, going on maternity leave during the probation period raises another question: What will happen with your employment and changes to a permanent position in the company? According to Swedish employment law, the probation period can be only up to 6 months long.
In that situation, both the employee and the employer can agree to extend the probation period. That way, you can continue probating after your maternity leave.