How to negotiate or ask for a salary increase in Sweden with great success

November 3, 2019 0 By swedendivin
11 min read

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Salary In Sweden

The salary that you are paid as a new employee is something you discuss and negotiate with your boss. The salary you both agree on is then written into your contract of employment, mostly for 1 year if there is no other agreements. 

Salary levels are not regulated by law and salary tariffs are almost non-existent in the Swedish labour market.

When applying for a new job, you often get asked about your salary expectations or your salary you had before you ask for a new job. Most salaries are decided on an individual basis. How much salary you can ask for depends on what type of work you are meant to be doing, its degree of difficulty or complexity, responsibilities, your personal work capacity and performance and the average salary paid for similar types of work. You can compare salary for the same work on different internet sites. Unionen or arbetsförmedlingen are good sites to compare salary.  almost 90 percent of all Swedish companies are covered by such agreements – kollektivavtal. These often specify the minimum wage for that particular work-place, as well as other work conditions, such as holidays, overtime, retirement plans.

Your right to regular salary reviews is usually governed by a collective agreement in your industry or field of work. Most of the works in industrial branch or big healthcare is regulated by collective agreements. If the type of work you do is not covered by a collective agreement then your right to regular salary reviews should be included in the terms of your employment contract. Because there is no law to regulate people’s salaries or salary increases, it is up to you to monitor the situation and keep an eye on salary trends. 

Starting salary – when you start your first job

In Sweden  you will have to negotiate your future salary from the very start. You will have to convince you boss that you are worth a specific sum. You are very unlikely to receive an annual raise of more than 3 percent, regardless of your performance. Actually, the only way to get a significant raise is to change jobs. This apply for dentist in goverment clinics. Only way to climb up the money ladder is to change jobs often.

For example Unionen has compiled information about what starting salary you might expect in different types of work. Starting salaries are usually based on statistics and should be seen as an indication of what other new employees in the labour market earn for the same type of work. This is very good because it increases your chances of getting a good salary compared to rest of the employes. Starting salaries are only relevant if you are new in the labour market with little or no previous work experience. If you already have some previous work experience, check out Unionen’s Salary Trends (Information only available in Swedish ) or arbetsfö
If the workplace where you are applying for a job is covered by a collective agreement, then your prospective future employer is not allowed to pay you anything less than the fixed minimum salary agreed under that collective agreement.


Salary negotiations do not normally take place until the end of the recruitment process, when you are about to sign the contract. For most positions you will negotiate you salary right before signing the contract. Your recruiter might ask you for an approximate number earlier in the process, though

What to say

Swedes are very factual when negotiating. Hence, use facts, not feelings. Be organised, present your facts in a structured manner. Always be professional and friendly. A typical Swede will not appreciate your sense of humour whilst talking about such serious matters, so do not be afraid of coming across as ‘boring’.

Use only your best arguments. If you use all your arguments, the best ones will easily be forgotten.

If you prepare yourself by thinking through several hypothetical scenarios and how you will handle them, it will be easier to stay professional and not display any emotion, in case the negotiation takes a turn that is not in your favour.

What not to say

Do not use your personal situation as an argument. Your family, baby-to-be-born, economic situation, health, flat purchase or student loans have nothing to do with the investment that the company is about to make. Nor does the average salary. Nor what
Try to remember this

your previous job paid. Never threaten your prospective employer that you might not take the job.

If you have worked for more then one year try to tell the boss about what you have learned and how you have increased or become more efficient in you field of work.

You could have a mall or write it down on paper about your responsibilities and your expectations in work, how you come along with colleagues, if your are friendly, helping others and so on. Let the boss see that you are doing a good job in the company.

As mention about dont talk about your private economy status, the boss is not interested. He wants you to perform.

Don’t compare yourself to a work buddy and his salary if you want to compare do it by unionen or arbetsförmedlingen to check how your salary compares in whole Sweden.

Don’t threaten the boss that you will resign. Because the boss could say that he thinks that is would be good if you did. Then you will put yourself in a bad situation. 

Variable salary

It is not uncommon for employees to have some form of variable salary in addition to their basic salary.  Commission based salary, performance based salary, piecework pay and bonus pay are all different types of variable salaries.

Employers often offer more than one type of variable salary. This is seen as an incentive for employees and a reward upon the completion of a specific task. Variable salaries are often linked to performance and results. They can also be linked to the performance and results of the company as a whole.

Variable salaries are not regulated by law and is something that you and your prospective future employer have to agree on. This is why it is important that all terms and conditions relating to you personally are included in your contract of employment.

Salary agreement – your right to salary growth and development

If there is a collective agreement in place where you work then you will be part of a salary agreement. The salary agreement constitutes your right to salary growth and development. It describes the grounds on which your salary should be decided and how you can influence that decision.

The salary agreement is negotiated centrally between Unionen and the employer’s organisation that organises and represents companies within a particular industry.

Your salary should be reviewed on an annual basis. This is usually done by way of an individual meeting with your Manager or HR Manager during which your salary is negotiated and discussed. Your individual salary negotiation or review will be based on the existing salary agreement. Most salary agreements give employees the right to an annual salary negotiation and review.

If the type of work you do is not covered by a collective agreement, you must take the initiative yourself and make certain that your salary is reviewed on a regular basis. 

Salary review – the most important meeting of the year in terms of your salary

Your salary review gives you the opportunity to influence your own personal salary. If there is a collective agreement in place at your work but there is no union club or union representative then you ought to take the initiative yourself and ask your employer for a meeting in order to discuss the possibility of a salary increase.

Come well prepared to the meeting and your chances of a salary increase will improve. 

Tips on how to ask for a salary increase

  • One of the most important aspects of preparing for your salary review is to have a clear picture of how you think you have performed in the past year. This is usually the most decisive factor in terms of what salary increase you will be offered.
  • Make use of Unionen’s Salary Trends (Information only available in Swedish) and try to make comparisons by talking to others.
  • Do not be afraid of asking for a salary increase – even if your employer is in a bit of a tricky situation financially. There may be a salary agreement that gives you the right to a salary increase regardless of whether or not the company is doing well.
  • If you are offered promotion or a new job within the same company or to extend your temporary employment or become permanently employed, you are in the best position to negotiate about a salary increase.

Pay discrimination

It is prohibited by law for an employer to discriminate. This also applies to salaries and salary structures. Salaries may be individual and differentiated but not unjustified. Even employees on parental leave are protected against pay discrimination through the Parental Leave Act.

If you feel that you are subject to pay discrimination – you could contact for example Unionen.

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