Searching for Equality : Sex Discrimination, Parental Leave and the Swedish Model With Comparisons to EU, UK and US Law

University dissertation from Iustus förlag

Abstract: Achieving economic equality between men and women is a challenge to every country. The approach taken politically and legally in Sweden is to encourage a greater economic independence of women from the family through paid work, as well encouraging men to assume a greater share of unpaid work, particularly parental leave, resulting in a lessening of the double burden of work for women. These efforts have made within the context of the parameters of the Swedish model with respect to labor, in which the preferred mechanism of resolution is agreement between the social partners and not legislation. To this end, the Swedish collective agreements have been analyzed specifically with respect to taking parental leave. The other parameters in the area of sex equality applicable to the Swedish system are those as defined by Community law, specifically the equal treatment and equal pay directives, against which the Swedish regulations as well as case law applying such are assessed. This work takes the Swedish approach to the problem of economic equality and compares it to the approaches as found in EU, UK and US law. In the UK, there has been a recent emphasis on a family friendly workplace, which is to be achieved at least in part through flexible working. The American approach has focused on discriminatory behavior as a societal phenomena. Comparisons to these two national systems are interesting also from an industrial relations aspect, as Sweden is the most unionized at 80 %, followed by the UK and then by the US at only 15 %.The findings of this thesis suggest that Sweden may need to reassess its approach to equality between the sexes, as well as issues of discrimination in general, incorporating aspects of access to justice into the legal system, as well as reassessing the role of the labor unions, and the Swedish model, with respect to such questions in general...

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