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ADVICE PUTS JOB AGENCY UNDER FIRE

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Sweden's state-run employment agency is under fire for a tip it gave job-hunters - approach pregnant women, find out where they work and ask if they plan to take maternity leave.

A group of unemployed women has now complained to Sweden's parliamentary ombudsman about the advice, published in the job agency's newspaper, the national Swedish news agency TT said."This is degrading. What will the next step be? Stand in the hospital casualty?" Siv Berglund, one of the group filing the petition, asked.

"I agree the formulation of the statement was a bit unfortunate," TT quoted Hakan Lindgren, the newspaper's publisher, as saying.

A spokeswoman for the ombudsman's office said it had not yet received the complaint.

Sweden, which has one of the world's most generous maternity leave systems, allows mothers and fathers to share a leave period with almost full salary for one year. Employers are obliged to give returning mothers a comparable job.