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Working hours and the Working Hours Act

The Swedish Working Hours Act (1982:673) regulates how much a worker is allowed to work. The requirements of the Working Hours Act can be waived entirely or partially through collective agreements as long as it is in compliance with the requirements of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time.

The Working Hours Act has rules regarding how much a worker is allowed to work per day, per week and per year. It covers on-call time and stand-by and also what breaks and pauses a worker is entitled to. Employers must keep records of on-call time, overtime and additional time for each of its workers.

All workers must have at least 11 consecutive hours of rest during each 24-hour period (daily rest period), and this shall include the hours between midnight and 5:00. In principle, night work is prohibited, but the Working Hours Act allows night work to be carried out if it is necessary due to the nature of the work, the needs of the public or other special circumstances. These types of works are in other words directly exempted from the night work prohibition and include for examples certain work in the process industries, healthcare, public transport, taxi services and the restaurant industry. Regarding other types of work, the night work prohibition either needs to be waived through collective agreements or exemption needs to be granted from the Swedish Work Environment Authority. However, the Swedish Work Environment Authority is only allowed to grant exemptions if there are special reasons. Purely economic reasons are not special reasons according to case law.  

Concerning minors there are special provisions regarding working hours laid down in the Swedish Work Environment Authority's regulations.

Information regarding the Working Hours Act on the Swedish Work Environment Authority's website  

Apply for exemption from the Working Hours Act on the Swedish Work Environment Authority's website


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