Work environment

AFS 2015:4 – New rules and requirements for organizational and social work environment

Working life has undergone a major change in recent decades. Sick leave due to stress and fatigue has increased, which has led to an increased interest in the underlying causes. Unhealthy workload, conflicts and abusive discrimination are given greater attention, which has led to the Swedish Work Environment Authority having developed clearer rules and requirements for the organizational and social work environment. In March 2016, a new ordinance was issued that clarifies the employer’s responsibility for the social and organizational work environment, AFS 2015:4.

What does organizational and social work environment mean?

The organizational work environment includes how the work is managed, communicated, how the work is organized and how decisions are made. The social work environment describes how we interact and are affected by colleagues, managers, and other people around us. Digital forums such as emails and chats are also included in the social work environment. The physical work environment is easier to understand and measure. It includes premises, lighting, sound, work tools and equipment.

What responsibility does the employer have?

Employers have a responsibility to have objectives and a systematic way of working for preventing health risks. To keep track of the organizational and social work environment, regular and systematic surveys are needed. The work environment is changing, so it is important to continuously follow the development in the organization to prevent risks. All employees must be aware of the risks at work and know who they can turn to with questions. It is important to remember that some people may find it difficult to address issues related to the work environment. Therefore, the employer should encourage and facilitate for all employees to point out things that they experience as problems.

A good working environment is not a coincidence but must be built into the organization and concretized in policies, goals, governing documents, rules and routines.

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