Labour law rules, which apply only to dependant employment contracts or relationships, include a series of mandatory protective provisions in favour of employees in the private sector.
In the context of an individual employment contract, protective provisions cover a wide range of matters, including: provision of information to workers regarding the terms of their employment contract, flexible forms of employment (fixed-term contracts, part-time and short-time (rotation) employment contracts, contracts through temporary employment agencies, remote working), contracts of seasonally employed hotel workers, termination of the employment relationship (distinction of employed persons into employees and labourers and technicians, calculation of severance pay, payment of reduced severance, limitation periods, harmful change to employment terms, validity-invalidity of termination, probationary period, termination of contract by the employed person, etc.), protection of employees in the event of a transfer of the business, posting of workers, availability of employed persons, work for employed persons away from usual place of work, impediment in the provision of the work without fault, force majeure, protection of minors during employment, protection of employed conscripts, labour regulations under Legislative Decree 3789/1957.
These matters fall under the responsibility of the Individual Employment Contracts Unit of the Directorate for Individual Regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
When drawing up the employment contract or during its effect, the employer and the employed person may, by an individual contract in writing, agree on any form of short-time work.
Short-time work means employment by fewer days per week or fewer weeks per month or fewer months per year or a combination thereof on full-time daily working hours.
If activities are reduced, the employer may, instead of terminating the employment contract, impose a short-time work system in the business, the duration of which cannot exceed nine (9) months during the same calendar year, only after it has first informed and consulted with the legal representatives of the workers, in accordance with the provisions of President Decree 260/2006 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 252) and Law 1767/1988 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 63).
Workers’ representatives, for the purposes of implementing the previous paragraphs, are the following, in order of priority:
(a) the representatives from the most representative trade union of the company or the enterprise, which covers employees according to its articles of association, regardless of their category, profession or specialisation;
(b) the representatives of the existing trade unions of the company or the enterprise;
(c) the works council;
(d) in the absence of trade unions and works council, information and consultation must be with all workers. The information may be provided by a single notice in a prominent and easily accessible place of the company. The consultation must take place at a place and time designated by the employer …
Also, if this agreement is not drawn up in writing or if the agreement or decision of the employer are not notified within eight (8) days from being drawn up or taken to the competent Labour Inspectorate, the employee’s full-time employment will be presumed.
The purpose of the provision on unilateral imposition of short-time (rotation) employment is to address temporary economic problems in order to ensure the viability of the company and prevent redundancies.
Therefore, the reason for which the employer is entitled to unilaterally impose short-time (rotation) employment is to avoid redundancies and avoid an increase in unemployment, by choosing solutions which are more favourable to employees. In this case, the law considers the unilateral change of the employment terms more favourable for the worker than the loss of his job, also on the basis of the principle that the termination of the employment contract is the last resort. To that end, employers are provided the opportunity, in the context of their general managerial right, to retain their staff by modifying the terms and conditions of employment for a period of nine (9) months a year in order to address any reduction in their economic activity.
Short-time work, imposed by a unilateral act of the employer, is a substitute for termination of the employment contract – considering it is imposed as a preventive measure against redundancies, ‘instead of termination of the contract’ – and is permitted, subject to the following two conditions which must in all cases be met:
(a) reduction of the company’s activities (substantive condition); and
(b) prior information and consultation between the employer and the workers’ legal representatives, and where there are no trade unions and works councils, information and consultation with all workers (formal condition).
Relevant institutional framework: Article 38 of Law 1892/1990 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 101), as amended by Article 59 of Law 4635/2019 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 167)
When the employment contract is drawn up or during its effect, the employer and the employee may agree with an individual contract in writing, on daily or weekly or fortnightly or monthly work, for a fixed or for an indefinite period, which will be shorter than normal (part-time working). If the agreement is not drawn up in writing or has not been notified within eight (8) days of its signing to the relevant Labour Inspectorate, the employee will be presumed to be employed full time.
‘Part-time worker’ means any worker with a dependent employment contract or relationship, whose working hours, calculated on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis are less than the normal working hours of the comparable full-time worker. A ‘comparable full-time worker’ means a full-time worker employed by the same company under a dependent employment contract or relationship, and performing the same or similar duties, under the same conditions. Where there is no comparable full-time worker in the company, the comparison will be made by reference to the collective arrangement to which the worker would be subject to if he or she had been employed on a full-time basis. Part-time workers may not be treated in a less favourable manner than comparable full-time workers unless justified on objective grounds, such as the difference in working hours. In any case, employment on Sundays or other public holidays, as well as night work will be subject to the payment of the legal increment.
If the part-time employment has been determined with daily working hours shorter than normal, provision of the agreed part-time work by the part-time employees must be continuous and provided once a day, with the exception of vehicle drivers for the transport of schoolchildren, toddlers and infants and bus attendants who work for private educational institutions, nurseries and kindergartens, and teachers working in foreign language and secondary education tutoring schools.
Termination of the employment contract due to the non-acceptance by the employee of a part-time employment proposal is also invalid.
Additionally, the remuneration of workers with a part-time employment contract or relationship is calculated on the same basis as the remuneration of the comparable worker and corresponds to the hours of the part-time work, whereas if the need arises for additional work beyond what was agreed upon, the worker has the obligation to provide it if he or she is able to and refusal to do so would be contrary to good faith. However, the part-time employee may refuse to provide work beyond what was agreed upon, when this additional work take place in a habitual manner. If work beyond what was agreed upon is performed, the part-time employee is entitled to a corresponding remuneration with a twelve percent (12%) increment on the agreed remuneration for every additional hour of work provided.
Part-time employees are entitled to paid annual leave and holiday pay, on the basis of the remuneration they would have received if they had been working during the time of their leave, for the duration of which the provisions of Article 2(1) and (2) of Emergency Law No 539/1945 will apply, as in force.
A full-time employee in companies of more than twenty (20) persons has the right after a full calendar year to request the conversion of his employment contract from full-time to part-time, with the right to return to full-time work, unless the employer’s refusal is justified by operational needs. In such request, the worker must specify the duration of the part-time employment and the type thereof. If the employer does not reply in writing within one month, it is presumed that the employee’s request has been accepted.
A part-time employee, in the case of offer of work on equal terms by employed persons of the same category, has a right of priority of being hired in a full-time position in the same company. The time of part-time employment is taken into consideration as length of service, in the same way as in the case of a comparable worker. To calculate this length of service, part-time corresponding to the regular (legal or contractual) daily time of the comparable worker corresponds to one day of service.
Workers covered by a part-time employment contract or relationship must be provided with (a) opportunities to participate in the activities of the company’s vocational training under conditions similar to those relating to full-time and indefinite-term workers; and (b) the same social services available to other workers in the company;
The employer must inform the workers’ representatives about the number of part-time workers in relation to the development of the total number of workers, as well as about the prospects for hiring full-time workers. In all other respects, the provisions of labour law apply.
Relevant institutional framework: Article 38 of Law 1892/1990 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 101) as amended by Article 59 of Law 4635/2019 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 167)
Severance pay of private-sector employees with an indefinite term dependant employment relationship in the case of termination with notice:
An employment contract of a private-sector employee with an indefinite term employment relationship, with a duration of more than twelve (12) months, cannot be terminated without prior written notice of the employer, and which will take effect on the day following its notification of the workers under the following conditions:
(a) For employees who have served from twelve (12) full months to two (2) years, a prior notice of one (1) month prior to the dismissal is required.
(b) For employees who have served from two (2) full years to five (5) years, a prior notice of two (2) months prior to the dismissal is required.
(c) For employees who have served from five (5) full years to ten (10) years a prior notice of three (3) months prior to the dismissal is required.
(d) For employees who have served from ten (10) full years and more, a prior notice of four (4) months prior to the dismissal is required.
An employer who gives notice in writing to a worker who is a private-sector employee as described above, must pay to the dismissed person half of the severance pay for termination without prior notice.
The notice period is counted from the day following the date of its notification to the worker and ends with the end of the notice deadline, when the employment relationship is terminated. The eight (8) day deadline in accordance with Article 9 (1) of Law ν.3198/55 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 98), as in force, to fulfil the obligation of the employer to notify the termination to the Greek Manpower Recruitment Organisation (OAED), starts from the day following the notification of the written notice to the worker (Article 241a.K). (interpretative Circular No 26352/839/28-11-2012 of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security & Welfare (ΑDΑ Β4ΣΘΛ-3ΡΨ))
Relevant institutional framework:
- indent 1 of subparagraph IA.12 of Article 1(K) of Law 4093/2012 ‘Approval of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Framework 2013-2016-Emergency measures for implementation of Law 4046/2012 and the 2013-2016 Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Framework’ (Government Gazette, Series I, No 222, 12 November 2012)
- interpretative Circular No 26352/839/28-11-2012 of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security & Welfare (ΑDΑ Β4ΣΘΛ-3ΡΨ)
Severance pay of private-sector employees with an indefinite term dependant employment relationship in the case of termination without notice:
An employer who neglects the obligation to give notice of termination of an indefinite term employment contract of a private-sector employee must pay to the dismissed employee severance pay as follows, unless higher severance pay is due under contract or custom:
TABLE OF EMPLOYEE SEVERANCE PAY
|Time of service with the same employer|
Amount of compensation
|1 full year up to 4 years||2 months|
|4 full years up to 6 years||3 months|
|6 full years up to 8 years||4 months|
|8 full years up to 10 years||5 months|
|10 full years||6 months|
|11 full years||7 months|
|12 full years||8 months|
|13 full years||9 months|
|14 full years||10 months|
|15 full years||11 months|
|16 full years and above||12 months|
Calculation of the above severance pay is made based on the regular remuneration of the last month under a full-time employment status. The second section of Article 5(1) of Law 3198/1955 (Government Gazette A98) continues to apply.
Relevant institutional framework:
- indent 2 of subparagraph IA.12 of Article 1 of Law 4093/2012
Severance pay of private-sector employees with an indefinite term dependant employment relationship, who on 12 November 2012 have seventeen (17) full years of service or more with the same employer:
For private-sector employees with an indefinite term employment relationship who are already employed and have more than seventeen (17) years of service with the same employer, severance pay is paid in addition to the severance pay provided for in the preceding indent (see section Severance pay of private-sector employees with an indefinite term dependant employment relationship in the case of termination without notice) whenever they are dismissed in the following proportion:
|ADDITIONAL SEVERANCE PAY|||
Time of service with the same employer
(for private-sector employees who on 12 November 2012 have completed 17 years or more)
Amount of compensation
|17 full years||+ 1 month|
|18 full years||+ 2 months|
|19 full years||+ 3 months|
|20 full years||+ 4 months|
|21 full years||+ 5 months|
|22 full years||+ 6 months|
|23 full years||+ 7 months|
|24 full years||+ 8 months|
|25 full years||+ 9 months|
|26 full years||+ 10 months|
|27 full years||+ 11months|
|28 full years and above||+ 12 months|
This calculation takes into consideration:
i) the employee’s length of service at the time of publication hereof, regardless of the date of his dismissal, and
ii) the regular remuneration of the last month under a full-time employment status not exceeding the amount of two thousand (2.000) euros.
If the conditions of the second section of Article 8 of Law 3198/1955, as amended, apply, the above calculation takes into consideration the regular pay of the last months under a full-time employment status, without prejudice to the second section of paragraph 1 of Article 5, Law 3198/1955.
Entitled to the additional severance pay are only workers who on 12 November 2012, date of publication of Law 4093/2012, had more than 17 full years of service with the same employer, whereas the service with the same employer after 12 November 2012 will not continue to be counted in the calculation of their severance pay. In other words, this additional severance pay will be fixed to the number of salaries accumulated up to 12 November 2012, regardless of the date of dismissal after that date, and their later time of service will no longer be taken into account.
Relevant institutional framework:
- indent 3 of subparagraph IA.12 of Article 1(A) of Law 4093/2012, as amended by Article 10(10) of the Legislative Act of 19 November 2012 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 229), which was ratified by Article 34(10) of Law 4111/2013 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 18);
- interpretative Circular No 26352/839/28-11-2012 of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security & Welfare (ΑDΑ Β4ΣΘΛ-3ΡΨ).
Severance pay of labourers/technicians with an indefinite term dependant employment relationship in the case of termination:
The severance pay due in the case of termination of the employment contract of labourers/technicians is shows in the table below:
TABLE OF LABOURERS/TECHNICIANS SEVERANCE PAY
|Time of service with the same employer||Amount of compensation|
|from 1 full year up to 2 years||7 daily wages|
|from 2 full years up to 5 years||15 daily wages|
|from 5 full years up to 10 years||30 daily wages|
|from 10 full years up to 15 years||60 daily wages|
|from 15 full years up to 20 years||100 daily wages|
|from 20 full years up to 25 years||120 daily wages|
|from 25 full years up to 30 years||145 daily wages|
|from 30 full years and above||165 daily wages|
Relevant institutional framework:
- Article 1(1)(1) of Royal Decree No 16/18 July 1920 on the ‘Extension of Law 2112 to labourers, technicians and servants‘ (Government Gazette, Series I, No 158);
- Article 1 of Law 3198/1955 Amending and supplementing the provisions on termination of employment relationships (Government Gazette, Series I, No 98 )
The unrestricted renewal of fixed-term employment contracts is permissible if justified by an objective reason. An objective reason includes in particular: If it is justified by the form or the type or the activity of the employer or the company, or by special reasons or needs, provided that such elements result directly or indirectly from the relevant contract, such as the temporary replacement of an employee, the performance of tasks of a temporary nature, a temporarily increased work load, or the fixed term must be linked to education or training, or must have the purpose of facilitating a worker’s transition to comparable work or is taking place for the implementation of a specific project or programme, or is linked to a specific event or refers to the field of air transport companies and companies performing activities relating to the provision of airport ground and flight services.
In any event, the reasons justifying the renewal of the fixed-term employment contract or relationship must be indicated in the relevant agreement of the parties, which must be concluded in writing, or be derived directly from it. In the absence of any objective reason, as defined in paragraph 1, and if the duration of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships exceeds three (3) years in total, it will be presumed that they are intended to cover fixed and permanent needs of the company or enterprise resulting in the conversion of such contracts or employment relationships into indefinite-term employment contracts or relationships. If in the three-year period the number of renewals, in accordance with paragraph 4 of this Article, of successive employment contracts or relationships exceeds three (3) in number, it will be presumed that they are intended to cover the fixed and permanent needs of the company or enterprise resulting in the conversion of those contracts into indefinite-term employment contracts or relationships. The burden of proving otherwise in any case falls upon the employer.
Successive are considered those fixed-term employment contracts or relationships which are drawn up between the employer and the same worker, on the same or similar employment terms and no period longer than forty five (45) days intervenes between them, including non-working days. In the case of a group of companies for the purposes of the preceding paragraph, the term ‘the same employer’ includes the companies of the group.
Relevant institutional framework:
- Article 5 of Presidential Decree 81/2003 as amended by Article 3 of Presidential Decree 180/2004 and subsequently replaced by Article 41 of Law 3986/2011
Article 657 of the Civil Code (Presidential Decree 456/84, Government Gazette, Series I, No 164/24-10-84) states that: ‘The worker retains his claim for a salary, if after providing work for at least 10 days, he or she is impeded from working with cause not of his own fault. The employer has the right to deduct from his salary the amounts which because of the impediment were paid to the worker from the legally mandatory insurance.’
Article 658 of this Code, sets out the following:
‘The period for which the claim for a salary is retained, in accordance with the previous article, in the case of impediment, cannot exceed one month, if the impediment arose one at least year after the contract was entered into, and half a month in any other case. The claim remains for this period even if the employer terminated the contract, because the impediment provided such right.’
It has been decided by the courts that the worker’s illness is considered as significant cause for absence from work (Supreme Court 308/59 – Criminal Code 15/61 – Supreme Court 385/64 – Court of Appeals of Piraeus 917/96 etc.) as well as an accident, whether work-related or not, injury, disability (Court of Appeals of Piraeus 917/96, Supreme Court 1767/85).
A year, on the basis of the true meaning of Article 658 of the Hellenic Civil Code, means a working year, that is to say, its calculation takes into consideration as its start the starting date of the contract, and its end is on the respective date of the following year and not the calendar year. Consequently, the worker’s claim for a salary is revived for the wages of one month at most, on the dates corresponding to the starting date of the contract (Supreme Court 152/60 – Court of First Instance of Athens 977/59 – Court of First Instance of Thessaloniki 4016/59 – Court of First Instance of Athens 3732/54 – Court of First Instance of Piraeus 3512/52 – Court of First Instance of Athens 4245/52 – Supreme Court VAMVETSOS EED 9.582 – SUPREME COURT BOURNIAS EED 9.486 – KAPODISTRIAS ERMAK Article 658 No. 6 K.E. – KARAKATSANIS Lab. Law 1976 pg. 189). It is understood that the payment of the above remuneration will be made in conjunction with Article 5 of Emergency Law 178/67, according to which the employer for the first three (3) days of the impediment is required to pay half the daily wage or the corresponding salary. As regards the remuneration of the remaining period, the employer is entitled to deduct amounts which because of the impediment were paid to the employee by IKA (Social Security Institute) (Article 657(2) Civil Code).
However, the illness of an employee, as laid down in Articles 660, 661 of the Civil Code, Article 5(3) of Law 112/1920, 8 of Royal Decree (16/18-7-1920) and 3 of Law 4558/1930 is an impediment, which in principle justifies the absence from work, without any adverse consequences for him or her. In particular, pursuant to Article 5(3) of Law 2112/1920, ‘the absence of an employee from work, as a result of a relatively short-term illness, duly proven or in the case of a woman post-childbirth, is not considered termination of the contract on his part’. Of a similar content is the provision referring to workers or servants of Article 8, Royal Decree 16|18-7-1920. A ‘short-term illness’, which does not result in termination of the employment contract, is the one lasting: a) 1 month, for employees serving up to 4 years; b) 3 months for employees serving for more than 4 and up to ten (10) years; c) four months, for those serving more than 10 years; and d) 6 months, for employees serving more than 15 years (Article 3, Law 4558|1930). Those provisions apply to any illness because of which the employee has been absent from work and irrespective of the cause which caused it.
The employer may, for the duration of the short-term illness of the worker, terminate the employment contract by paying the severance pay of indents 2 and 3 of Article 1 (subparagraph IA.12) of Law 4093/2012, as in force, considering that the fact that the limits of the short-term illness are exceeded does not in itself entail the automatic termination of the employment relationship, but, on the basis of the principles of good faith and fair trading, following an assessment of the causes of the absence, its duration in relation to the prospects of a return to work, the specific circumstances and any fault of the worker, as well as the specific circumstances of the case, such as seniority, type of post, tolerance by the employer and the employer’s option of assigning a different type of work to him or her, it is up to the judge to decide whether this absence, objectively viewed, that is, regardless of the worker’s intention of terminating his contract, must be considered as a silent declaration of his intention to terminate the employment contract (Plenary Session of Supreme Court 32/88, Supreme Court 40/1997, Court of Appeals of Piraeus 512/1994, Supreme Court 455/99, Supreme Court 259/91, Supreme Court 272/91 and others). That assessment is made on the basis of the objective facts set out above, without taking into account the subjective element of the employee’s intention to maintain the contract. (Single member Court of First Instance of Preveza 450/2011, Supreme Court 876/89-1048/92).
Presidential Decree 156/1994 (Government Gazette, Series I, No 102 provides for the employer’s obligation to inform the worker about the terms governing the employment contract or relationship and applies for every worker connected with his employer with a dependant employment contract or relationship. The provisions of the Presidential Decree does not apply to workers whose total duration of employment does not exceed one month and to workers in non-systematic agricultural employment.
More specifically, the Employer is required to disclose to the worker the material terms of the employment contract or relationship.
Such information must at least include the following:
a) The contracting parties’ identity information;
b) the place at which the work is to be performed, the registered office of the company or the home address of the employer;
c) the worker’s post or specialisation, grade or employment category, and the subject-matter of the work;
d) the date of commencement of the employment contract, and, if it is a fixed term contract, its duration;
e) the duration of the paid leave to which the worker is entitled, and how and when it is to be granted;
f) the compensation payable and the notice which the employer and the employee must give, in accordance with legislation in force, in the event of termination of the contract;
g) all types of remuneration which the worker is entitled to and the intervals at which they must be paid;
h) the worker’s regular daily and weekly working hours; and
i) the applicable collective agreement that lays down the worker’s minimum terms of remuneration and employment.
Information on the particulars of indents (e), (f), (g) and (h) may be provided by reference to the applicable provisions of the Labour Law.
As regards the methods of information, provision must be made that the information on the terms of the employment contract or relationship be effected by delivering to the worker at the latest two months after the start of his work the written employment contract or other document, provided that it contains all the information referred to in this Article.
If the employer chooses to inform the employee by delivery of any ‘other document’, he or she alone has to sign this document and keep a copy. The worker will sign that he or she has received it, not on the actual document delivered, but on another form.
The purpose of the Presidential Decree is to clarify the legal position of workers, in particular those not covered by a written employment contract, enabling them to better define the terms and conditions of their employment, to distinguish their employer and, more generally, to have the essential details of their employment in writing, which would make it easier for them to know ‘who they work for’, ‘where they work’ and ‘according to which basic conditions’ (see Circular No 3134/22-9-94, Circular of the Ministry of Labour).
Furthermore, for any change in the particulars referred to in Article 2(2) and Article 4 of the Presidential Decree, the employer must draw up a document and deliver it to the worker no later than one month after the change has taken place. The document is not be mandatory in the case of amendments to the relevant provisions of the Labour Law, when the documents under Article 3(1) of the Presidential Decree refer to them.
The legislator establishes the employer’s obligation to inform the worker in writing of any change in the material terms of the contract or employment relationship. Notification of any change must take place as follows: (a) The employer must draw up a document stating clearly and precisely the change and (b) The employer must deliver that actual document to the worker within one month of the date on which the change occurred (see Interpretation Circular No 3134/22-9-94 of the Ministry of Labour).