Companies that do not comply with the new regulation are likely to be given heavy fines, but exactly which requirements must be fulfilled is unclear. Anders Reuter, a lawyer at the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises, explains the situation.
The regulation on organisational and social work environment is clearly aimed at reducing stress and excessive workloads. Employers who expose staff to a socially unsound environment risk sanctions. The problem, according to Anders Reuter, is that the social work environment is difficult to assess.
”If fines are going to be issued, the requirements must be clearly stated as well as measures to be taken for fulfilling the requirements. It is fundamentally a question of legal certainty,” he says.
”When it comes to the physical work environment, it is quite easy to check measurements such as noise levels or the presence of harmful substances. There is nothing that corresponds to this for the social environment, which makes it difficult to implement the new regulation,” he says.
Those who are deemed to be in breach of the regulations risk heavy fines. The Swedish Transport Agency is responsible for supervision at sea and its inspectors decide what is considered to be a sufficiently good social work environment.
”Fines may vary from SEK 30,000 to several million. The amount depends on the shortcomings involved and whether they are repeated,” says Anders Reuter.
At the same time, he says, it is in every employer’s interest to create a good climate at work. It can reduce staff turnover and increase efficiency.
”Working with these issues is part of being an attractive employer,” he continues.
The new regulation is a consequence of the increasing sickness rate, resulting from social ill health. Anders Reuter believes that other measures are needed to reverse the negative trend instead of new rules.
”If there is going to be a real difference, I think we need to start talking about people’s privacy too. A person is a whole, and what happens at home also affects the situation at work.”