Photo: Bertil Ericson och Fredrik Sandberg/TT.
Credit: Bertil Ericson och Fredrik Sandberg/TT.

Job centers abused by dodgy employers

"It's not part of our job to check employers in that way"
2:11 min

A union that combats the exploitation of undocumented migrants is complaining that the offices of Sweden's employment service can be used to recruit workers for black market jobs.

Unscrupulous employers, the union says, can recruit workers at Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish Public Employment Service) without fear of being caught. A manager from Arbetsförmedlingen's Stockholm offices told Swedish Radio news that the agency does not check companies that want to participate in certain recruiting meetings.

A representative from the Swedish Trade Union Center for Undocumented Migrants claims the lack of oversight means that exploitative entrepreneurs can operate freely in government-run employment offices.

"Those opportunists can go right into Arbetsförmedlingen. It's easy and free. And there's no problems and no checks. It's recruitment for off-the-books work," said Sten-Erik Johansson from the Swedish Trade Union Center for Undocumented Migrants, which was established in 2008 by three well-known Swedish trade unions - LO, TCO, and Saco.

Arbetsförmedlingen sets up meetings where job-seekers and potential employers can shake hands and network. Johansson said that in such meetings held at Arbetsförmedlingen's office in Södermalm in Stockholm, businesses that offer off-the-books work have been invited to speak with job-seekers.

"Arbetsförmedlingen has had companies that have gone bankrupt. And they've referred to black-market jobs and jobs where you're not even paid. The Employment Service hasn't checked what kinds of businesses they're inviting," said Johansson.

Lisen Trollbäck Eldh, manager for Arbetsförmedlingen Stockholm City, which includes the Södermalm office, said that the agency doesn't check companies that are only participating in networking meetings.

"Those who use our services by attending recruitment meetings, we don't check them. We're there so that employers can come to us and have recruitment meetings where we help match them to job seekers. It's not part of our job to check employers in that way," said Trollbäck Eldh.

Speaking with Swedish Radio's morning news program, Irene Wennemo, the State Secretary to the Minister for Employment, said the Employment Service may need to take on the extra responsibility.

"Now we have a larger job sector that is less regulated. And we have many people who are new to the Swedish labor market and who don't have a clue about what they can demand from Arbetsförmedlingen or from employers. So it has become a lot more important for the Employment Service to take this task on," said Wennemo.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
Du hittar dina sparade avsnitt i menyn under "Min lista".