Where in the world can you take time off work to be an entrepreneur and not be fired?
Welcome to startup nation Sweden
Sweden is unquestionably a start up nation. This is particularly true in tech. Its capital, Stockholm, has been described as a unicorn factory. Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley for producing unicorns, a privately-held startup worth $1 billion or more, per capita.
How did they do it?
Sweden has developed a human, social, educational and corporate infrastructure that supports start-ups .
Exequiel Hernandez, Wharton management professor
The ecosystem that the Swedes have created to support start ups like any other ecosystem is complex web of factors ranging from their very culture to laws to physical infrastructure to social structure and protections. So in trying to explain how they did it we must always bear in mind that it is not one thing but many things. Let’s take for example their Right to Leave to Conduct a Business Operation Act a brilliant piece of legislation that gives a employee the right to request from their boss time off to go start a business and return if it doesn’t work out.
You heard right, take time off to start a business and later return to your job without fear of being fired.
The Right to Leave to Conduct a Business Operation Act, passed in 1997, guarantees that employees have the right to take a leave of absence of up to six months to start their own company.
But there is catch. Isn’t there always. Please don’t get me wrong this will not be case of dashed expectations, where I lift the curtain for you to see the wizard only to learn that the larger than life wizard was just an ordinary man. No! This is a tale of reasonable limitations place on Right to Leave to Conduct a Business Operation that balances this right of a work with interest of the employer.
These limits include:
- The company you start cannot be a competitor to your current employer.
- This right can be taken once per employer.
- You must have been an employee for at least six months before taking the leave.
- Employees deemed to be essential to business operations, for example a CEO, cannot exercise the right.
The Right to Leave to Conduct a Business Operation appears to be a hit in Sweden with several unions and employers striking up collective agreements that expand workers’ rights to unpaid leave to 12 months off instead of the standard six months.