A Paid Hour a Week for Sex? Swedish Town Considers It
A local official in Sweden has a novel proposal to improve work-life balance and lift the local birthrate: give municipal employees an hourlong paid break each week to go home and have sex.
Sweden is already celebrated for its generous welfare state, including 480 days of paid parental leave, universal health care and a common ritual of coffee and pastry, known as fika, which is considered sacrosanct.
Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old councilman from the northern town of Overtornea, wants to add to those benefits, by offering the municipality’s 550 employees the right to subsidized sex. In introducing his proposal this week, he told fellow members of the town council that it would give a nudge to the dwindling local population, add spice to aging marriages and improve employee morale.
The idea quickly got attention all over Sweden, where for at least some, it was a welcome distraction from President Donald Trump’s vague reference to problems the country was having with immigration, which were strongly denied by baffled Swedes.
Noting that “sex is also a great form of exercise and has documented positive effects on well-being,” Muskos suggested that local municipal employees could use an hour of the workweek already allotted for fitness activities to go home and have sex with their spouses or partners instead. The motion, which is expected to be voted on in the spring, needs a simple majority to be passed by the 31-member council. As of now, opinion on the council is divided.
“We should encourage procreation. I believe that sex is often in short supply. Everyday life is stressful and the children are at home,” Muskos explained in his motion in Overtornea, a town of about 4,500 in the picturesque and remote Torne Valley. “This could be an opportunity for couples to have their own time, only for each other.”
His proposal has generated praise, ridicule and criticism. Some critics fear single workers could while away their working hours on the dating app Tinder trying to find a date for their weekly interlude.
When Muskos introduced the motion Monday, some council members giggled while others said they were not amused. But befitting a progressive country which has long been perceived as a beacon of sexual enlightenment — including blissfully kitsch performances at the Eurovision Song Contest — the proposal was taken in stride.
穆斯克周一提出这项动议时，一些议员笑了起来，另一些人则表示并不觉得好笑。但与一个一直被认为是性启蒙灯塔——包括欧洲歌唱大赛(Eurovision Song Contest)上欢快的媚俗(kitsch)表演——的进步国家相称的是，这项提议获得了从容应对。
It made headlines across Sweden and beyond. “Suggestion: Let the staff have sex during working hours,” a headline in the newspaper Expressen declared, under a photograph showing a couple in bed.
Muskos told colleagues the proposal was no joke, though he acknowledged practical problems like enforcement. It would be difficult to tell, for example, if an employee eschewed sex in favor of a walk in the country.
Sweden has among the highest fertility rates in the European Union, according to Eurostat, the bloc’s statistic agency, in part because of the country’s generous parental leave systems and immigration. But the fertility rate has nevertheless been decreasing recently.
Malin Hansson, 41, a sexologist and specialist in reproductive health in Gothenburg, applauded the initiative, arguing that sex reduced stress, improved sleep and strengthened immunity, while enriching intimacy between couples.
“If it was up to me, I would introduce this across the country,” she said, adding: “In Sweden, sex is considered just another activity.”
Stefan Nilsson, a Green Party member who sits on the health and welfare committee of the Swedish parliament, said he was skeptical that taxpayers would want their money to finance work-hour sex, but allowed that the idea might be a canny investment in physical activity, noting that healthier workers cost the government less.
Others were less persuaded.
Tomas Vedestig, 42, a left-leaning municipal councilman in Overtornea, said that when Muskos made his pitch, his colleagues were so taken aback that they thought they had misheard him. Vedestig said the proposal was intrusive and threatened to embarrass people who do not have sexual partners; do not want to have sex; or had medical conditions that precluded sex.
“I don’t think it’s the employer’s business to to say ‘go home for an hour and make babies,'” he said. And some proponents worried the proposal was too stingy: “I spoke to a couple of older gentlemen who said, ‘One hour? That is not enough time.'”