Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Försäkringskassan, SGI & Swedish Sickness Benefits

Well it is not too often that I get a full week of work with the one company, but this week I managed to land some work, only to be at home with a sick boy today.

His dad took him to work with him yesterday, and said that he could tomorrow and the rest of the week, which left today. We had thought he'd be ok, but that razor sharp cough woke me each time during the night, compounding my stress and contemplation of what to do. When I woke this morning, a few minutes after 6am, just before my alarm, I listened to the rain knowing I could not push him. He could not spend the greater part of the day outside in the dampness. Today was going to be a home-day.

So I kept both of them at home and we had a quite day, watching tv, building train tracks and embroidering. And I got the packing done - finalised! Complete! That takes a load off my mind. While my attitude to packing is fairly casual I still have to do it for 3 people, 2 of whom have grown out of some of their clothes, and account for temperature variation between 16 - 40 oC.

Kids are sleeping soundly and I have had a couple of glasses of wine since dinner, hoping to drug myself into a state of sleep. After all - I have nothing left to write on my list e at 1am tonight - there is nothing more I need to remember - it has all been done. Here's hoping I get more than the 5 hours of anxious restlessness I have had the last couple of nights.

Anyway, as ruthless as it sounds it is tough to give up a day's work to care for a child, and I understand there are often heated discussions in families to determine who will stay at home - whose job is the most important? Who will lose the most financially? As in so many places in the world the husband usually earns more, so it is most often the wife who stays at home to care for the sick child.This is despite the fact that Sweden has a very generous system where the parent who stays home and thus loses a day's pay, receives 80%of their salary back from the government. Now this might sound like a fair system that encourages highly paid parents to stay at home, but there is a ceiling on the payment which in turn discourages highly paid parents from attending to their little ones. Still, I can't help but think we are lucky. While I have no idea what the system is in Australia, I still can't believe my Canadian in-laws do not get paid to stay at home with sick children. What a lot of pressure that must put on a family, not to mention a child who may be unwillingly pushed out of bed and off to school if there is any doubt. Or if finances are tight.While my personal sickness benefits mean that I do not get paid for the first day I am at home sick (hence who only takes 1 day off??) caring for a child gives me coverage from the first day. And even as newly launched business owner I am still entitled to benefits. I have a right to send in a budget for 2009 (with 2008 being the start-up year) and a calculation is done based on that. That calculation is called my SGI and is the basis for my sickness benefits for the first two years of my business - whether it be for myself or for my children. Försäkringskassan is the government body that handles these payments and they not only require a budget but also a information about what salary someone doing the same job would receive, what background you have in the industry and what your calculations are based on - and you don't compile all this information in 10 minutes.

Once upon a time a new business owner's salary or SGI was calculated based on the salary of a person in a similar role, but that is no longer the case. It is almost entirely based on your budget, so be aware of that when you submit it - it will hold for up to two years if you don't provide evidence that you are doing better than you budgeted for.

All these things are worth knowing - friends of mine running their own business have been going without for years - every time a child was sick and they had to employ someone to work they took it as a loss in the business - and all this time they could have been claiming - just as every other employed Swede does. After all, that is what we pay tax for, even those of us who run our own business!

Time for me to get to bed, and hopefully sleep more than five hours!

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