Forums For Adjudicating Employment Disputes
Employment disputes are brought in the single-judge civil court (Employment Disputes Section). There are specific rules that apply to employment disputes which simplify the procedure before the court (e.g. shorter deadlines, the possibility of the parties to appear at the trial without a lawyer etc).
The Main Sources Of Employment Law
The main sources of employment law are the following:
- The Greek Constitution.
- International Treaties.
- European Directives and Regulations.
- The Greek Civil Code.
- Employment legislation.
- Collective Labor Agreements and decisions of arbitral tribunals related to such collective agreements.
- Customary practices.
- Case law.
National Law And Employees Working For Foreign Companies
Greek legislation applies to non-nationals working in Greece. However, the parties may choose the governing law of the employment agreement on the condition that they observe all mandatory legal rules provided in Greek law (e.g. those governing the working hours, the minimum wage, the employees’ equal treatment, the prohibition of juvenile work, the protection of maternity and pregnancy etc). Given that a great part of Greek employment legislation comprises of mandatory rules, choosing the law of another jurisdiction as the governing law of the employment contract leaves little room for variation.
It should be noted that foreign companies have the right to hire staff and employ them in Greece. On the condition that the nature of the services to be provided by the employees locally does not give rise to a permanent establishment for the said foreign company, the latter is not obligated to set up a branch or undertake any other registration in Greece. In this case, all withholding and social security obligations are registered and reported by the employees themselves on a regular basis with the Greek tax and social security authorities, as indicated by (21.2) Regulation 987/2009 (EC) and the Greek legislation about taxation (art. 59 of law 4172/2013).
National Law And Employees Of National Companies Working In Another Jurisdiction
Greek legislation applies only to employees working in the Greek territory. Greek nationals working in another jurisdiction are not subject to Greek legislation but rather to the legislation of the country in which they carry out their work. This obligation derives from art. 5 of the Brussels Convention. Exceptions, however, can be made due to a bilateral agreement between Greece and the foreign jurisdiction and by the governing law clause included in the particular employment agreement. Another exception is where a Greek employee is posted to another EU jurisdiction for a limited period of time (Directive 96/71/EC)
According to Greek legislation, the employees are holders of personal data rights and the employers are responsible for the management of their employees’ personal data. The employees’ personal data concerns any information related to their private life, their financial life, medical data and data related to other sensitive aspects of their personal life (e.g. nationality, religion, origin).
The basic legislative framework for data privacy in Greece is art. 9A, 19 (1) of the Constitution, art. 8 of the ECHR, art. 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Directives 2002/58 and 2016/680, Laws 3471/2006, 3917/2011 and 4624/2019 and General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 of the European Union. The general principle of the regulations and laws for personal data privacy is that the collection and processing of employees’ personal data shall be permitted only when this is necessary for the fulfilment of defined, explicit and legitimate purposes and only after the employees have been informed of such collection of their personal data.
Legal Requirements As To The Form Of Agreement
There is no legal obligation for the employment agreement to be made in writing, except in the case of part-time employment agreements, job-rotation employment agreements and the renewal of definite duration employment agreements. However, the employer must in any event provide the employees with the main terms of their employment in writing. The employment agreement may be concluded orally or implied by the actions of the employer and the employee. Exceptions are provided for specific employment agreements (e.g. with the Greek State) which must always be made in writing. Whether made orally or in writing, the employer must communicate in writing to the employee the key employment terms (i.e. work location, nature of tasks, duration of the contract, working hours, salary etc.).
A trial period is not mandatory but is often used in practice for the indefinite duration employment agreements. Regarding the indefinite duration employment agreements, the law provides that if an employee is dismissed within twelve (12) months of his/her hiring, he/she is not entitled to severance payment.
Hours Of Work
Pursuant to article 6 of the National General Collective Labour Agreement of 14.02.1984, as amended and in force, employees may not work more than 40 hours per week and more than eight hours daily on a five-day working week.
Overwork, is the work that is offered in addition to the weekly hours set out in the labour contract, which currently stands at 40 hours for full time employment, up to the following maximum number of hours:
- up to 45 hours for 5-day working weeks (i.e. 41 – 45 hours) and
- up to 48 hours for 6-day working weeks (i.e. 41 – 48 hours).
Overwork is determined on a weekly basis. The aforementioned applies according to the general provisions of labour law. Collective bargaining agreements may provide for different working hours.
When employers occupy employees more than the expected weekly hours, for every hour worked over 40 hours per week and until 45, the hourly salary is paid with an increment of 20% in the case of 5-day working weeks.
Legal and illegal overtime
Overtime is differentiated between legal and illegal overtime. In order for overtime to be deemed legal, the following requirements must be met cumulatively:
- Overtime must be provided for one of the following circumstances:
According to the relevant provisions, the Employer must notify the Greek Information System ERGANI in advance of the overtime. Please note the notification to the Information System ERGANI must take place no later than the same business day.
Allowed limits of legal overtime vary depending on the field of employees. Daily overtime in industrial companies must not exceed 3 hours. Exceptionally and only under urgent needs of the employer, the daily overtime may exceed 3 hours for the first day, but it must not exceed 4 hours for the remaining 4 days of the week. As regards the staff in shops and the employees of banks, the overtime must not exceed 2 hours on a daily basis and 120 hours per year and lastly as regards unskilled labour, the overtime must not exceed 120 hours per year.
- Urgent work necessary for preventing accidents, organizing rescue measures for addressing sudden damages to material, premises or buildings;
- Urgent work of a temporary nature or extraordinary urgent needs for serving the public;
- Extraordinary workload;
- Eve of holidays;
- Preparatory or supplementary work which, due to their nature, are performed past the statutory working hours and
- Making up for lost time in the event the business experiences an interruption.
Time Limits For Overtime Work
Overtime is work provided beyond the maximum daily statutory time limits. The maximum daily statutory time limits for 5-day working weeks are 9 hours. Overtime is any work provided above 9 hours per day. Allowed limits for legal overtime are mentioned above.
In the event of unskilled labour, any overtime above 120 hours per year requires approval from the labour inspector.
Legal overtime is paid with the following increments:
- Up to 120 hours per year, hourly salaries are paid with an increment of 40%
- Above 120 hours per year, hourly salaries are paid with an increment of 60%
Each hour of illegal overtime is paid with an increment of 80% from the first hour of overtime (previous rate before legislative amendment was 100%).
Work on Sunday
It should be noted from the onset that employment on Sunday is neither overwork nor overtime. If someone is to work on Sunday, this is considered an independent working day with the right of receiving the increment set out below. It is only when the employee exceeds the weekly (in the case of overwork) or daily (in the case of overtime) hourly limits that he/she is entitled to additional increments for such work.
Employees working on Sundays are entitled to an hourly salary increased by 75% and in case the work on Sundays exceeds 5 hours, the employees are also entitled to an alternate date of rest within the following week. It should be noted that the increase of 75% is calculated on the statutory salary provided by law and not the actual salary paid to the employee. For sake of clarity, statutory salary is the minimum salary provided by law or collective bargaining agreements and not the agreed salary actually paid to the employee.
Employers must seek permission from the labour inspector for its employees to work on Sundays for urgent work, due to the nature of the products or the season or in the event the work cannot be postponed to another day within the week.
It should be noted that the increment of the 75% applies also to work during any other public holiday.
Night work is work provided at night between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am the following day. Work provided at night is paid with an increment of 25%. The following categories of employees are not entitled to receive the increment of 25%:
- employees not covered by the pay system under the Collective Labor Agreement, which sets minimum wages and wage levels, such as agricultural workers, home workers, etc.
- employees who are paid for being on stand-by.
Special Rules For Part-time Work
Employees whose working hours, calculated on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, are less than the comparable full-time employees, are considered as part-time employees. The employment agreement for part-time work must be in writing and must include the days and the hours of work in detail. Furthermore, the employment contract must be notified by any means to the Labor Inspection Office within eight (8) days. In case the employment agreement is not in writing or the agreement is not notified to the Labor Inspection Office, the work is considered as full-time.
According to Greek laws, minimum earnings are set out as follows:
- the minimum daily gross wage for workers is €29,04 per day and
- the minimum monthly gross salary for employees €650,00 per month.
Both the minimum daily gross wage for workers and the monthly gross salary for employees depend on the work experience as follows:
| Work experience
|| Minimum monthly gross salary
|| Increment due to work experience
|| Total monthly gross salary
|More than 9 years
| Work experience
|| Minimum daily gross wage
|| Increment due to work experience
|| Total daily gross wage
|More than 18 years
Employees working a five-day working week who have completed at least two months of employment with the same employer are entitled to 2 days of leave for every month of employment. This means that on completion of the 1st year of employment, an employee is entitled to 20 working days of paid annual holiday. Annual holiday leave is increased by a day for the second year of employment and another day for the third year up to a maximum of 22 working days.
For employees working more than five days a week, the minimum annual holiday entitlement is 24 days. Annual holiday leave may reach a maximum of 26 working days.
Employees who have completed 10 years of work at the same employer or 12 years in total at any employer are entitled to 25 days of leave if the work five days a week and 30 working days if they work 6 days a week.
Employees who have completed 25 years of work in total at any employer are entitled one additional day of leave, i.e. 26 working days if the work five days a week and 31 working days if they work 6 days a week.
This annual holiday entitlement cannot include paid public holidays (e.g. Christmas, the Monday after Greek Easter, Independence Day). Additional paid public holidays (up to five days per year) may be decided by the Minister of Employment.
According to article 127 of the Greek Civil Code, the minimum age for an employee is 18 years old. However, employees younger than 18 but older than 15 may work with the permission of their guardians. There is no maximum age limit set.
In case of illness or disability, an employee is entitled to time off during which he/she retains his/her right to a salary, which is met both by the employer and the social security organization, according to the provisions of the social security legislation.
The duration of paid illness or disability leave depends on the duration of the employment relationship. In particular, the law provides for the following:
- Employees who have worked for less than four years can take a maximum of one month off,
- Employees who have worked for more than four years but for less than ten years can take a maximum of four months off, and
- Employees who have worked for more than fifteen years can take a maximum of six months off.
Location Of Work/Mobility
The location of work must be stipulated in the employment contract or provided in writing by the employer. In the event of doubt, it may be agreed orally or it may be implied. It can also be agreed that the employee must provide his/her services at different places (in the same city or in different cities), in which case the company must cover the employee’s travel expenses.
Greek employers do not participate in pension schemes as pensions are funded by the Greek State. However, two kinds of supplementary pensions exist in Greece which the employer may adopt.
- subsidiary pensions, which are funded by employer contributions which are paid to the social security organization.
- In companies occupying more than 100 employees, the employer may provide employees with access to occupational pensions (Law 3029/2002). These pensions are voluntary and result from mutual contributions made by both the employer and the employee.
Parental Rights (Pregnancy/ Maternity/ Paternity/ Adoption)
According to Article 50 of Statute 4075/2012 on “Parental Leave for Upbringing”, parents, including adoptive parents, have the right to ask for and receive this leave without pay. The leave can be for up to four (4) months (given all at once or in instalments) and may be requested from the parent until the child reaches the age of six (6) years old. During the course of the employee’s leave, the employee has full insurance coverage from his/her social security under the condition that both the employer and employee contributions are paid in full during this period. The leave for school visits, which is normally paid, can be granted for a maximum of four (4) days per year to parents of children not older than sixteen (16) years old (art. 4, National General Collective Labour Agreement of 2008/2009).
Moreover, Greek law provides for a protection scheme for pregnant women, mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. Pregnant women are entitled to a total of seventeen (17) weeks’ paid leave (art. 11, Statute 2874/2000, of which eight (8) weeks should be taken before birth and 9 weeks after birth (art. 7, National General Collective Labour Agreement of 2000/2001).
Pursuant to article 97 (B1) of Statute 3144/2003 (art. 9, National General Collective Labour Agreement of 2004/2005), mothers are entitled to reduced working hours for a period of thirty (30) months after their maternity leave ends [i.e. one (1) hour less for thirty (30) months or two (2) hours less for twelve (12) months and one (1) hour less for six (6) months].
In addition, according to Statute 3655/2008 (art. 142), mothers are entitled to an additional 6 months leave after the expiration of the above 17-week maternity leave which they can take either before or after exercising their right for reduced working hours for a period of thirty (30) months. Fathers are entitled to two (2) days of paid leave for the birth of each child (art. 10, National General Collective Labour Agreement of 2000/2001). They also have a right to reduced working hours where the mother does not make use of her relevant rights (art. 7 (B2), Statute 3144/2003).
Compulsory terms of the employment agreement are:
- the full particulars of the contracting parties;
- the place of work and the job position;
- the duration of the contract;
- the annual leave entitlement;
- severance and notice obligations;
- basic salary;
- bonuses and other fringe benefits;
- the working hours; and
- the applicable collective labour agreement.
In so far as non-compulsory terms do not contravene mandatory law provisions the parties are free to agree any terms of a non-compulsory nature (e.g. bonuses).
Types Of Agreement
The most common types of employment agreements are:
- full-time/part-time employment agreement of an indefinite duration,
- full-time/part-time employment agreement of a definite duration,
- collective, as opposed to individual, employment agreements.
There are several types of collective employment agreements, i.e. the National General Collective Labour Agreements (applicable to all employees), the National Occupational Agreements (applicable to employees of the same occupation in Greece), the Regional Occupational Agreements (applicable to employees of the same occupation in a certain city or district), Branch Collective Agreements (applicable to employees of a certain occupational subsector) and Company Agreements (applicable to employees of a certain company).
In addition to the above, Greek Labour Law provides the following flexible types of employment:
- Employer’s Suspension Right
The issues concerning the conditions and the procedure for placing employees under suspension have been recently enacted pursuant to labour law no. 3846/2010, Art. 4(1). Businesses and undertakings whose economic activities have been reduced may, instead of terminating employment agreements, suspend employees, by written communication, for not more than three (3) months on annual basis. Such suspension is valid only after consultation with the employees’ legal representatives, pursuant to the provisions of presidential decree no 240/2006 and the provisions of law no 1767/1988 (regarding Employee Committees). If there are no legal representatives of employees, the notification and consultation procedures take place with all employees. Notification is deemed to have been affected by virtue of a single announcement made at a visible and accessible point in the company.
During the suspension period, the employees under suspension receive half of the average of the salary they had received the preceding two months as full-time employees. Following the period of three months, the same employee may be placed again under suspension only after he/she has been reinstated at work for a period of at least three (3) months. Suspension of employees must be notified by any means with the competent Labour Inspection Office, Social Security Institution and Labour Employment Office.
- Job Rotation
According to Law 3846/2010, in the event the Employer experiences reduction in its operations, it may, instead of terminating employment contracts, impose a system of job rotation, the duration of which cannot exceed more than 9 months per calendar year.
In order to apply the system of job rotation, the Employer must previously inform and consult with the employees’ legal representatives. According to the law, job rotation is the working schedule with fewer working days per week or fewer weeks per month or fewer months per year, or a combination thereof, but always with full working days.
In addition, new employment agreements will have to be signed, which must include the time of employment, the allocation of work, the working periods and the method by which salaries will be calculated.
Job rotation must be notified by any means with the Labour Inspection Office within eight (8) days.
The employee’s obligation for secrecy and confidentiality is set out in the Greek Civil Code. Under this code an employee is under an obligation not to disclose to third parties anything concerning the employer’s business, which is or could be, considered confidential. The employment contract may set out in more detail an employee’s secrecy/confidentiality obligations by specifying its content and duration. Such clauses can extend the obligation to post termination.
Ownership of Inventions/Other Intellectual Property (IP) Rights
According to Law 1733/1987, there are three types of inventions and intellectual property rights:
Clerical invention: This invention is created in the course of the employment relationship. Therefore, it belongs entirely to the employer, unless it is profitable for the employer, in which case the employee is entitled to reasonable remuneration.
Dependent invention: This invention is created by the employee making use of the employer’s materials, means or information. Therefore, 40% belongs to the employer and 60% belongs to the employee.
Free invention: This invention is created by the employee during the course of his/her work and belongs entirely to the employee.
Greek legislation does not indicate any pre-employment consideration.
Where an employee is an EU-national, there are no any specific legal requirements, with the exception of obtaining a Greek tax number and Greek social security (unless the employee provides a certificate that he/she has social security in his/her home jurisdiction).
If the employee is a non-EU non-national, the employee must obtain the following:
- A Greek Tax Registration Number,
- Greek social security (unless an exemption is obtained pursuant to a bilateral social security agreement),
- A work – residence permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior or the local competent Prefecture, according to Law 4251/2014, and
- An entry permission (visa) issued by the Greek Embassy or the Consulate.
The cost and length of the procedure for obtaining the above permits depend on whether the employee comes to work in Greece at his/her own initiative or after an invitation of his/her own initiative or after an invitation of his/her employer, according to Law 4251/2014.
Hiring Specified Categories Of Individuals
There are certain categories of employees who enjoy greater protection by law. In particular, there are specific legal provisions which ensure the protection of parents with more than four children, employees on military service, disabled persons and victims of wars. According to Law 2643/1998, companies employing more than 50 employees must ensure that at least 8% of their workforce is made up of the above categories of employees.
Outsourcing And/Or Sub-Contracting/Temporary Agency Work
According to article 651 of the Civil Code, secondment of employees is allowed. In such cases, the consent of the employee is always required. During the secondment, the initial employer retains its contractual obligations towards the employee. In addition, the employer and the employee may agree that during the course of the employment relationship the employee shall provide his services to third parties (arts 113 et seq., Statute 4052/2012). This kind of employment is known as “temporary employment” and applies to companies operating under the form of an SA and licensed by the Minister of Commerce.