In the manufacturing sector, employment for men fell by 15 percent, but for women it fell 19 percent, as shown in a new report from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
Manufacturing has historically employed predominantly men. But this picture changed in recent decades as companies consciously recruited more women for legal and strategic reasons—showing positive trends for female employment, as hoped. But these measures for gender equality took a hard knock when the financial crisis forced significant redundancies. Swedish companies had no choice but to let go more recently hired women when the order of termination rules in the Swedish Employment Act prioritize seniority over other qualifying factors.
“Employers were force into an impossible situation and now have to start over, trying to reacquire the skills they need”, comments Carina Lindfelt, Section Manager for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
Employers faced a Catch-22 situation where the order of termination rules during redundancies require them to consider seniority only, while gender equality legislation require active measures to combat gender discrimination.
“We know from previous research that the order of termination rules hinder youth and immigrants from getting established on the labour markets. Now, we find that gender equality is negatively affected by the order of termination rules legislated in the Employment Act,” concludes Carina Lindfelt.