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[dupe] Sweden allows every employee to take six months off and start their own business (businessinsider.com)
80 points by mikro2nd 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

This was posted before in a different form, but I think the discussion became a bit one sided and went off on a tangent. So there is a few point I would like to make about this practice in Sweden:

1. As the article states this is an old practice. There used to be an even better scheme around 10 years ago when you could get unemployment for a year by having someone unemployed replace you.

2. The primary benefit, since is not paid, is that you can keep you employment i.e. you can't be fired. But for every year this is less of a given as more and more people have temporary employment, work as contractors, at smaller firms where different rules apply or are granted lesser rights under the law.

3. In Sweden you are required to be loyal to your employer. Which means you aren't allowed to start a competing business while being employed or for some time after and retain your rights. Which also means you can't for this scheme either. This makes the whole thing useless for most people in technology.

4. Living costs, and centralization of society, are off the charts in Sweden. You will be bleeding money fast unless you are already rich.

So I think there is very little real benefit to this.

Edit: Pretty lame to mark this story as a dupe though, now this comment is pretty much meaningless since the primary motivation was discussing the issue. I guess the "middlebrow dismissal" would have been a better idea.

The stand-out detail is 6 months unpaid leave. Sounds like a pretty reasonable idea; if an employer can't cope with that they probably have a resiliency issue with their staffing numbers anyway. The upside of a lucky startup is clearly much greater than the potential drain on the economy, and the incentives don't seem unsound.

> if an employer can't cope with that they probably have a resiliency issue with their staffing numbers anyway

That statement seems highly dependent on the size of the employer.

Parental leave is already very generous in Scandinavia, so companies already have to deal with employees disappearing for several months.

This just plays into the hands of big businesses at the expense of small ones. What if the company is 25 people and 6 decide to take the leave at the same time? No way they could handle that.

Parental leave is paid. If they can't survive 6 months unpaid leave from a worker, then they got a problem. The system with paid leave works fine in all of Scandinavia so how could unpaid leave not.

Paid by the employer or by the government?

In Canada I get leave but I get paid by the Employment Insurance program (tax). Interestingly it caps off meaning lower income people might get 100% of their salary while I'd get like 30%.

It takes ~9-1/2 months to have a baby; that's a huge planning and coordination window.

What would that minimum window look like to my hypothetical employer if I decided on a whim to start a business tomorrow?

In Sweden, you need to tell the employer about the plans to take time off for starting a company 3 months before.

That's on par with parental leave, where it's not uncommon to tell the employer 3 months before the delivery.

You don't need to tell your employer that you need parental leave on the date of conception.

similarly, you can't just take this business leave by saying "I'm not coming in next week!". The notice period is actually longer than for parental leave.

We only need to tell the employer 3 months before the planned parental leave though.

Read the article:

>Anyone who's been in full-time employment for at least six months is entitled to apply for the unpaid sabbatical, or tjänstledighet, as it's called in Sweden. Employers can only turn the request down if the employee is vital to the business's operations. Also, your new idea can't compete with your existing employer, nor cause them any significant inconvenience.

I would say this is fairly uncommon and unlikely to hit any given business. But sure, it puts some strain on businesses. It also seems to work fine. We have companies of many different sizes. I haven't heard a lot of complains about it.

I don't expect a 25 person company is paying well enough that 20% of their workforce would take 6 months off unpaid all at once. In the unlikely event that it does happen, use their salary to hire short-term replacements.

Except no one wants to have short term temporary job.

Also it’s not just the percentage of employees on leave, but also about their position.

What if this happens in a startup of 10 people (where they have 2-3 developers) and the person taking the leave is a developer?

Company loses 33-50% of its R&D capacity for the next 6 months. That can have catastrophic effect on a startup.

> Except no one wants to have short term temporary job.

Sure they do; that's what contractors often are. I've spent eight months working in Belgium plus three in Luxembourg. It's a great option if you're from a EU country with lower salaries and don't want to permanently migrate, but want to build some savings (plus local employers seem have some fetish for people who worked abroad).

That's an absurd assertion. Small companies don't pay well? Two of my friends fit this. One works for a land surveyor, the other an engineering consultancy. Both paid very very well. Both about a dozen people company.

Many jobs are hard enough to hire qualified people for key alone for 6 month temp contract.

How would the 31-person company handle a bunch of their employees coming back to re-fill positions that had already been filled by someone else?

I'm indifferent to the policy, but one possible way would be conditional employment linked to the return of a sabbatical employee being replaced, or perhaps a fixed probationary period allowing for release without cause.

Small business owner here. If your a significant share of your employees decides to take six months of unpaid leave all at the same time just because it's legal, you have bigger problems than legislation.

If anything this helps employees leave shitty companies without the full risk of just quitting entirely. You know how capitalism is about a marketplace of rational actors? Actors will be a lot more rational if they know they can still have a job to fall back on if things don't work out.

I agree to an extent, but it's important to realise such rules aren't "free."

There's a cost to holding someone's seat. Employers whole heartedly replace them, because they're entitled to come back. So, they need a small 6 month replacement that may or may not become a permanent need.

For most jobs at large companies, I totally agree. They should be able to handle it. But, marginal cases will still exist. Niche roles, senior employees or smaller companies. Image a 200 person startup where a team lead or similar takes her 6 months. The team is now in limbo.

I like the idea, just saying it comes with downsides too.

There is the same kind of unpaid leave in France to create a company, but it's for one year (and possible to extend it for one more year): https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2382 (in French)

Swede here. I had no idea this existed. I know it is allowed to take a leave for studying but not for starting a company. So i learned something! Anyway, i don't think this is such a big risk here in Sweden because very few take the opportunity for doing stuff like that. Running your company i generally frowned upon in many areas still here.

Disclaimer: could not read the article, doesn't allow adblocker.

> Running your company i generally frowned upon in many areas still here

So who runs the companies that everybody works for now?

I don't know which part of Sweden you live in, but in Stockholm it's definitely not frowned upon running your own businesss.

Disable javascript and try again.

This will reduce the fear of, "I've got mouths to feed. What if it doesn't work out?"

How? The sabbatical is unpaid.

Because you are guaranteed to return to your existing job. Sure, you’ll need to use savings for those six months, but you know you can go back. That’s not nothing.

I’m curious how they enforce the policy of allowing you to keep your job after you’ve left for six months. What if the position you previously had is no longer needed or has been replaced by automation? Would they be forced to rehire you for a period to satisfy the rule with the intention of letting you go later?

This doesn’t seem like a good long term solution. A better one would be several weeks off, then half time work for several more months. It allows you to keep you head in the game, make money, and take care of your kid.

> Would they be forced to rehire you

The employees aren't unhired, they are on leave. And yes, the employer is required to return you to your old position, or a very similar one.

> What if the position ... is no longer needed or has been replaced by automation?

Then they return you to a similar position and/or run less efficiently than they may have done otherwise.

I don't see this as particularly different from similar issues you get with parental or education leave arrangements. There are sometimes edge cases that complicate things a bit but any reasonably sizeable organisation can usually deal with them without too much bother.

> What if the position you previously had is no longer needed or has been replaced by automation? Would they be forced to rehire you for a period to satisfy the rule with the intention of letting you go later?

The person is still employed so still has the same protections as if they never left. It's very hard to fire someone in Sweden so that is important.

It's enforced by the state. Simple as that.

If the company want to let you go for not being needed any more they need to follow the last in first out rule for similair positions/qualifications and if you are that person the company has to give you x months of notice and pay, but I'm not sure what happens if they do that during a leave.

I would guess it would work the same way as it already does when the position you had is no longer needed/replaced by automation. I'm not sure what the situation in Sweden is like, but I'd wager to guess that that would at least have to come with a severance package (assuming I'm using that term correctly here - not a native speaker). You can't just fire people that are not on unpaid leave either.

What's the flip side if you succeed and don't want to go back to your old job?

Do you have to give X days notice?

Yes, since you are still hired, just on leave.

Yes, indeed, although, I guess, the knowledge that you can go back and pick-up from where you left off is sufficient security for some?

I have to assume that there is also a policy to prevent firing them as soon as they get back from leave, or else the whole thing is useless. I also have to assume that a replacement hired has the same rights as the employee who took leave. So there could be successive waves of sabbaticals.

This policy would instantly destroy Silicon Valley. I can picture companies with more employees on leave to start startups than actual working employees of the company!

Does it protect the current employer from employees ‚borrowing’ ideas and leads?

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