Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Swedish Work Ethic?

The Local is reporting that "Swedish employees feign illness to stay home from work for an average of 7.62 days per year. Only in India did more people admit to skipping work without good cause."

Now this statistic reveals a lot of things. No one would ever confuse Sweden with India in many other areas, but in this respect they are the same. I don't know diddly squat about India but I can attest to the fact that in Sweden it is true. I have never seen people call in sick so much in my life. In the USA, one only calls in sick if one cannot literally get out of bed.

Is there some reason for this?

In my experience Swedes love three things more than anything else: singing, taking time off work, and of course, raw herring.

In Sweden the taxes are so high (on average more than twice what we pay in the States) and the benefits are so generous that people have to call in sick a certain number of days or else they are literally working for free. And if you really do get sick, you might as well stay home for a week because (mindbogglingly) YOU DON'T GET SICK PAY THE FIRST DAY OFF so why the fuck would you come back on the second day?

Yes. Incredible. After the first day of sickness you get 80% of your total salary for up to two weeks with no questions asked. After that you need a doctor's note. This is the national law. Since Swedes value social security and time off more than money, the system works (I mean stays home sick) pretty well. In some sectors absenteeism is so rampant it is typical for 25% of the work force not to be there on any given day.

This is all very strange to an American where we are basically always competing for our jobs. I think we even have a difficult time differentiating a person from his or her job description. In the USA if you call in sick more than a couple times a year, it's very likely to cost you a promotion, raise, or very possibly your job.

No matter what people say... coworkers and managers know when you're faking illness. And coworkers must pick up the slack when you are home sick. I mean, who ever gets sick on vacation, right?


Here it is common to call in sick WHILE ON VACATION so the days go towards sick leave and more vacation can be taken later. It is not uncommon in Sweden to take the whole month of July off and two weeks in the Winter. For the smaller weekend holidays they use their sick days. Try that one in the States.

I don't know about people in India, but Swedes are not lazy people. However I feel they tend to exaggerate how hard and long they work. Most of them would find the working conditions in the States to he inhumane. And as I become more and more Swedified, I am beginning to agree with them. Swedes normally like and are even fascinated by the States, even though though they find the rampant capitalism, insane foreign policy, and pockets of poverty in the States bewildering.

So Swedes play the wekfare system to their own advantage.

India... what do you have to say for yourself?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Swedish Joke (From a Finn)

Okay I promise some good pics from France soon. In the meantime here is a (very bad) Swedish joke submitted from a Finnish reader:

A Swede was walking down the street with a duck under his arm.

- "Where did you find that monkey?" asked the fellow pedestrian.

- "Monkey? It happens to be a duck." claimed the Swede.

- "Shut up, Swede! I am talking to the duck."