Employing berry pickers

A berry picker who is a citizen of a non-EU country needs to have a work permit.

Most people need a work permit

Most people who are citizens of a non-EU country need a work permit in order to work here. The person must apply for and receive their permit before travelling to Sweden, but under certain circumstances an application can be submitted after the person has arrived in Sweden.

For employment that lasts less than three months, citizens of certain countries must also have a visa.

Persons employed at recruitment agencies that provide labour to a company in Sweden and employees who are transferred within a group of companies for work purposes need a work permit.

Countries whose citizens require a visa to stay in Sweden for a period shorter than three monthsexternal link, opens in new window

Not only the berry pickers are covered

The requirements also apply to persons providing supporting services to the berry pickers. This means that the same conditions apply when you employ, for example, a cook or interpreter for the berry pickers.

A work permit is tied to a certain profession and a certain employer. You must therefore specify the profession that the individual is actually working in when filling in the job offer.  

Requirements for obtaining a work permit

You are subject to special requirements if you want to employ or engage a person to work in the berry picking industry. You must

  • advertise the position in Sweden and within EU/EES and Switzerland for at least ten days (only if you are a Swedish company, not a foreign company with a branch in Sweden)
  • offer terms of employment that are at least on par with Swedish collective agreements or that which is customary in your occupation or industry
  • offer a monthly pretax salary of at least SEK 13,000
  • fill out an offer of employment
  • give the trade union concerned the opportunity to state its opinion about the terms of employment
  • prove that you paid salaries if you have previously employed or engaged berry pickers
  • show that your company can afford to pay the monthly salary (gross salary plus any social security contributions) even if the berry harvest is poor or the employee is unable to pick the required number of berries. For example, you can show that your company has liquid assets in the bank or the equivalent, overdraft facilities or bank guarantees (applies only to banks in the EU/EEA area or Switzerland). You can also show a legally binding commitment from another financier or a guarantee that your company has liquid assets. Income statements and balance sheets may be submitted as verification.
  • show that you are able to provide guidance to the people you employ or hire in their work and organise transport, room, board and other practical matters in a manner that is customary for the industry. Describe your planning in writing
  • present all costs for which the person you employ or hire is liable
  • produce documentation that you have informed about the job, the terms of employment offered, legal right of access to private land and traffic regulations in Sweden.

Important information regarding insurance

In order for an employee to receive a work permit, the employer must provide health insurance, life insurance, industrial injury insurance and occupational pension insurance for the employee when they begin working.

In order for an employee to extend their work permit, they must have been provided with health insurance, life insurance, industrial injury insurance and occupational pension insurance for the entire period in which they have had a work permit in Sweden.

To show that the insurance has been valid throughout the employment period, the document must state the start date of the policies and their terms and conditions.

Someone who has been in Sweden for less than one year does not have the same rights to social benefits as someone who is a resident of Sweden. For this reason, it is important that the person in question has been provided with insurance to cover any costs that may arise in the event of illness or an accident.

Facts about the agreements

LO (The Swedish Trade Union Confederation) has decided that the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union (SKAF) shall be responsible for the rights of berry pickers with regard to the right to join unions and matters concerning contractual law. This means that SKAF is to be given a chance to comment on the conditions of employment. If the employee works full time and is employed by a company with operations in Sweden, LO has decided that the framework agreement with the Federation of Swedish Forestry and Agricultural Employers shall be their collective agreement.

A Swedish company may purchase the service of berry picking from a foreign company. The foreign company must then have a branch in Sweden. The client in Sweden must guarantee the terms of employment applicable on the form Offer of employment.

If the employee is employed by a foreign staffing company that does not have operations in Sweden, the Staffing Agreement shall apply. This applies whether the employer has signed a collective agreement or not.

Your responsibility as an employer

If you employ a person who is a citizen of a non-EU country, you must check that the person has the right to enter Sweden and work for you. You must also inform the Swedish Tax Agency that you have employed a person from a non-EU country.

The requirement to check the right to enter and work in Sweden and inform the Swedish Tax Agency does not apply when you employ people who are citizens of a country within the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Nor does it apply to family members of the latter, regardless of the family members' citizenship.

Prohibition of discrimination

There must be no discrimination against a person in working life on the grounds of e.g., nationality, ethnic origin or skin colour. The employer should be aware that checks carried out regarding the employee must not be of a discriminatory nature. Therefore, to avoid discrimination, the employer must also refrain from making a decision to check an employee's right to enter and work in Sweden based solely on the employee's ethnic origin, skin colour or language skills.

Read more about prohibition of discrimination in the Swedish Migration Authority's general advice to employersexternal link, opens in new window

Last updated: 2019-06-27

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