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Complicated rules when self-employed want to take parental leave

Rules for parental benefits for self-employed persons are complicated, which places great demands on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s communication. Despite this, the audit by the Swedish National Audit Office indicates that there are good conditions in place for fair and equivalent processing.

Barn med sparkcykel, pappa med barnvagn och hund på gata.

audit background

The public social security system encompasses both general and means-tested allowances, as well as income-related benefits. A basic principle for the income-related benefits is that they are to provide the individual with good protection for loss of income, for example, during parental leave. Parental insurance is intended to enable both parents to combine parenthood with gainful employment, and give the child access to both its parents.

The amount of income-related benefit the individual receives is based on their SGI, which is the income the individual can be expected to receive from gainful employment in the future. The regulations surrounding the determination of SGI for self-employed persons are more complex and demanding from an administrative viewpoint than for most employees. This is primarily due to the difficulties in assessing future income for self-employed persons. The regulations provide a broad margin of discretion for the individual case-officer at Försäkringskassan. The aim is to create flexibility in estimating the actual loss of income through taking into account the individual circumstances. However, a broad margin of discretion entails risks with regard to fair and equivalent regulatory application if the case-officers at Försäkringskassan are not given the right conditions.

Consistent, clear and predictable application of regulations is of great importance for confidence in Försäkringskassan and is an essential criterion in a socially sustainable social security system. It is vital that Försäkringskassan gives clear information to those insured. The information must be easily accessible and there must be transparency and predictability for the individual regarding the grounds on which decisions are made.

If those insured are uncertain as to what financial benefit they will receive during parental leave, this may impact the take-up of parental benefits and undermine confidence in the national insurance system. The Swedish NAO therefore considers it urgent to audit the parental benefit for self-employed persons, with particular focus on the determination of the sickness benefit qualifying income.

The purpose of the Swedish NAO’s audit is to investigate whether the processing of the sickness benefit qualifying income (SGI) in conjunction with the claiming of parental benefit is predictable and clear. The audit is limited to the processing for self-employed persons (regardless of corporate form) when they claim parental benefit in connection with childbirth.

Within the framework of the audit, it is investigated whether a case officer has the right conditions for consistent processing and if the information provided by Försäkringskassan to self-employed persons is clear. Furthermore, it is investigated whether there are shortcomings in predictability with regard to benefits received by self- employed persons when claiming parental benefit.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 14 May 2018

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