Monday, October 27, 2008

"Practice Work"

A Triptych from Sweden
Part Two. "Practice Work"

Everyone in Sweden gets paid once per month, all on the same day. Those who work and those on welfare all get their salary just in time to pay rent. Every bank in the country uses direct deposit exclusively. In fact, my bank charged me 120 Kronor when I deposited my "stimulus package" from the US Treasury Department. It's quite a hassle for them dealing with checks apparently, because they have to mail it to Stockholm. 20USD for the stamp, perhaps?

But I'm getting side-tracked. I was saying that everyone gets paid the same day, no matter who you work for. But having an employer doesn't guarantee that the company is obliged to make the payment. It's a Swedish tradition to allow businesses a probationary period for up to 6 months wherein the country will continue paying the employee. It's basically an internship, except that it doesn't matter how skilled the employee is. You could have years of experience in the field and begin contributing to the success of the company from your first day. You are still earning the same amount you made while unemployed. As it happens, that's quite a bit less than what a landscaper makes.

Let's say that you do get a paying job, though. And let's say that you start, oh, toward the end of the month. You will have to wait until the next pay period before you see anything. That means that you may end up working for a company for almost 6 weeks before you see anything in the bank. And what if the company turns out to have been failing and can't afford its payroll? Well, you're out of luck. Back to the welfare office you go.

Not all is lost, though. If you missed a rent payment in there don't worry about it. They can't kick you out for up to three months. So that's in your favor. Of course there's a down-side to the three month clause. Say, for instance, you'd like to move. You're going to have to give your leasing agency three months notice, no matter what. You're welcome to move before your time is up, of course, but you have to continue paying until the three months is up. They don't have long or short term leases here. Just an unending three month extension added on every time you pay your rent.

I know it's not a big deal. Just plan ahead, right? It's like any other bureaucratic process. And all things considered it's probably a better deal than what you get in The States. But this is supposed to be an article where I complain. So let's just remember the point. "Practice Work" and unfair pay sucks. Capitalism isn't perfect, but socialism isn't either.

One thing for certain, though, Sweden isn't about to declare war on a defenseless nation in order to stretch its hegemony. For this and other marketing opportunities, move on to article 3.

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