Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sick leave at record low

According to an expert, headlines about a runaway increase in sick leave are misleading. Writing in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter Sunday, Professor John Selander says sick leave in Sweden is actually at an all-time low.

Selander is professor in Rehabilitation Science at Mid Sweden University. He says the statistic that is often used here to measure the extent of absence from work because of illness gives a skewed picture of reality because it over-reflects longer periods of sickness.

He points to a more common international measure that looks at how many of those in employment are temporarily home because of illness. During 2013, he says, around 10 percent of the Swedish workforce received a sickness benefit.

Selander says one reason for the low occurrence of sick leave is Sweden’s relatively high level of unemployment, which encourages people to avoid staying home when they are sick. He also says the previous government’s tax cuts for the employed penalizes the sick and may also influence the situation.

Rehabilitation in working life, he says, has also improved.

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