June 25, 2022

Working time limits

The provisions for the working time limits of the employees cover one of the most crucial parts of the labour legislation, as they do not simply define the duration of work but also regulate how remuneration shall be calculated. These regulations are directly related to the health and safety of workers. 

Working time is defined as any period during which the employees are at work, at the employer’s disposal and carry out their activities or duties in accordance with the regulations in force for each period. (Article 2 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999).

Statutory working hours are the working hours defined by legislative provisions (in the true sense of the term, which include regulatory administrative acts, issued by law), having the nature of public policy rules and being in force regardless of the employment contract validity. (Decisions of the Supreme Court 1188/90, Athens Magistrates’ Court 4911/92 etc.). Under Article 1 of Law 3385/2005 (GG A`210), the statutory weekly working hours were set at 45 hours on a five-day working basis and 48 hours on a six-day weekly working basis. After the five-day working bases entered into force, the statutory daily working hours were set at 9 hours, while on a six-day basis, they remained at 8 hours. (Article 6 of the 26/2/1975 National General Collective Labour Agreement, Law 2269/1920 (Article 18 of the Presidential Decree 8/4/32, Decision 119/97 of the Supreme Court).

Contractual working hours are the working hours set by individual or collective agreements and may be less but never more than the statutory working hours. In particular, under the National General Collective Labour Agreement dated 14-2-84, the contractual working hours were set at 40 hours per week which amount to 8 hours per day on a five-days weekly working basis and to 6,40 hours per day on a six-day weekly working basis. 

Duration of daily work is the working time within a continuous period of twenty-four (24) hours. (Article 3 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999). 

Duration of weekly work is the working time within the period from 00:01 on Monday until 00:00 on the following Sunday. (Article 2 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999).

In any case that the daily working time exceeds six hours, a break of at least 15 minutes must be granted, during which workers are entitled to leave their workplace. These breaks may not be granted consecutively at the beginning or at the end of the daily work. (Article 4 of Presidential Decree 88/1999).

The minimum rest of workers for each period of 24 hours cannot be less than eleven (11) hours (Article 3 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999, as replaced by subparagraph IA, case 3 of Law 4093/2012).

Furthermore, workers are granted a minimum period of 24 hours of continuous rest per week, which includes in principle, Sunday, depending on the provisions of labour law and the practices applying to each category of workers, to which the eleven (11) consecutive hours of daily rest referred to in Article 3 of this Decree are added. (Article 5 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999 as in force).  

In addition, in case of a five-day weekly work system (under a Collective Labour Agreement, Individual Contract, etc.), workers are entitled to a two days weekly rest.

Sunday begins at 00:01 and ends at 00:00. For employees at around the clock activities under a system of successive working groups, Sunday may start at 06:00 or 07:00 and end at the corresponding time on Monday.

For employees, the weekly working time may not exceed forty eight hours (48) on average per period of four months at most, including overtime (Article 6 of the Presidential Decree 88/1999).

Exceeding 8 hours per day on a five-day working  basis and up to the 9th hour of work or 6,40 hours per day on a six-day working basis and up to the 8th hour of work, provided that there is an excess of 40 hours per week and up to the limit of 45 hours on a five-day working basis and 48 hours on a six-day working basis, in accordance with Article 1 of Law 3385/2005 (GG A`210) as amended by paragraphs 10 and 11 of Article 74 of Law 3863/2010 (GG A`115),  is overtime work, at the discretion of the employer.

The five hours of overtime work on a five-day working basis (from the 41st to the 45th hour), or the 8 hours of overtime on a six-day working basis (from the 41st to the 48th hour) are remunerated at the paid hourly rate increased by 20% and are not included in the permitted limits of overtime employment provided for by the relevant provisions.

Work beyond 45 hours per week on a five-day working basis and beyond 48 hours per week on a six-day working basis is -in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 74 of Law 3863/2010- considered to be statutory overtime and is subject to all relevant statutory consequences, formalities and approval procedures. It is remunerated at the paid hourly rate increased by 40%.

Exceeding the statutory 9 working hours per day on a five-day working basis (Article 6 of the 16/2/1975 National General Collective Labour Agreement, decision 119/1997), as well as exceeding the statutory 8 working time per day, on a six-day working basis is considered statutory overtime (Decision 247/2003).

  • Non-exceedance of a specific statutory overtime ceiling

The duration of overtime in industries, craft industries, undertakings and works in general, under the provisions of Article 3 of the Legislative Decree 515/1970,  may not exceed 3 hours per day. By decisions of the Minister of Labour, issued in December and June of each year, the statutory overtime ceiling is set for the entire country or for certain regions. Furthermore, in the other categories of enterprises apart from those referred to in Article 3 of Legislative Decree No. 515/1970, the personnel of limited liability companies, banks and offices in general, truck drivers, store workers, service providers etc. are not allowed to work overtime beyond two hours per day and 120 hours per year for each worker (section 2 of subparagraph IA13 of paragraph IA, of the 1st Article of Law 4093/2012).   

  • Legitimate Overtime

Overtime and statutory overtime employment are legitimate only if registered by the employer at the ERGANI Information System, before it is performed. (Article 36 of Law 4488/2017, (GG A’ 137) as it replaced paragraph 1 of Article 80 of Law 4144/2013.

  • Illegal Overtime Employment (by way of exception)

In the event of an overtime employment without the formal and substantive requirements of the relevant provisions mentioned above or in excess of the overtime ceiling, then such employment is illegal and the employer or the person liable before the law shall suffer civil as well as criminal consequences, according to Article 5 of the Legislative Decree no 515/1970 and 1037/71, in conjunction with the provisions of Article 28 of Law 3996/2011 (GG A’ 170).

Furthermore, the term “non legitimate overtime” (illegal) was replaced by the term “exceptional overtime” in accordance with paragraph 4 of Article 1 of Law 3385/2005 (GG A’ 210). 

In accordance with the said provision (as this was replaced with paragraph 10 of Article 74 of Law 3863/2010) the employee in any case of exceptional overtime is entitled to a compensation equal to the hourly rate increased by 80%. 

In accordance with Article 4 of the Royal Decree 748/1966 as this was supplemented by Article 42 of Law 4454/2018 (A`130), as well as by paragraph 1 of Article 1 of the Emergency Law 380/68 as in force with paragraph 1 of Article 14 of Law 4468/2017 (A` 61), the following days are defined as public holidays:  

a) 25th of March
b) The second day of Easter
c) 1st May
d) 15th August (Assumption Day)
e) 25th December (The Birth of Jesus Christ)
f) 26th December

Under the same article of the Royal Decree 748/1966, 28th October is defined as an optional public holiday at the employer’s discretion.

The difference between mandatory and optional public holidays is that on the mandatory public holidays the employment of workers shall be prohibited, whereas on the optional public holidays, their employment is left at the employer’s discretion.

Greek labour law (Royal Decree 748/1966) provides for a ban on all industrial, craft and commercial work and any professional activity in general on Sundays (period starting from 24:00 on Saturday and ending at 24:00 on Sunday) and those established by law as public holidays and in this regard the employment of their staff is prohibited. However, there are exceptions to this ban, relating to specific categories of enterprises or employees (Articles 2, 7 and 9 of the above mentioned Royal Decree, as well as Article 3 following authorization by the Labour Inspectorate).

In accordance with the Joint Decisions No 8900/46 and 25825/51 of the Ministers of Finance and of Labour, as well as in accordance with the Article 2 of the Legislative Decree 3755/1957, as it was amended and supplemented by Law147/73, Article 2 of Law 435/76 and paragraph 2 of Article 42 of Law 4454/2018, employees working on Sundays and public holidays are granted an additional remuneration that amounts to 75% of 1/25 of their statutory salary or wage (Joint Ministerial Decisions 8900/1946 and 25825/1951 of the Ministers of Labour and of Finance).  

Generally, those employees who work more than five hours on Sunday are entitled to a compensatory weekly rest of 24 hours duration on another working day of the week, starting from the Sunday on which they were employed. In case of a less than five hours employment, the worker may request an equal compensatory rest period.  It is clarified that only those who work on Sundays but not on public holidays are entitled to a compensatory weekly rest (Article 10 of the Royal Decree 748/1966).

Furthermore, under the above provisions, employees who are paid a wage and who will not be employed during the above public holidays, on grounds not related to them, are entitled to the statutory wage without further increase.

Every employee under a fixed-term or open-ended employment contract is entitled to annual paid leave from the beginning of his employment in a specific liable company, without the need to complete a basic working time (paragraph 1 of Article 2 of Emergency Law 539/1945, as it was amended by paragraph 1 of Article 13 of Law 3227/2004 and replaced by Article 1 of Law 3302/2004).

This leave is granted by the employer on a pro rata basis (percentage) depending on how long the worker concerned has been employed by that employer. The proportion of the leave granted is calculated on the basis of 20 working days’ leave for a five-day working week and 24 working days’ leave for a six-day working week, corresponding to 12 months of continuous employment. By the end of the first calendar year in which the employee was recruited, the employer must grant the employee the annual paid leave in parts which is proportional to the duration of his employment by the undertaking. During the second calendar year, the employee is entitled to annual paid leave, which is proportional to the duration of his employment by the company and is calculated as specified above. The duration of this leave increases by one (1) working day for each year of employment after the first year, up to twenty-six (26) working days in case of a six-day working week or up to twenty-two (22) days if the undertaking operates on a five-day working week system. From the third calendar year onwards, the employee is entitled to take the entire annual leave at any time during that year.

Workers who have completed 10 years of service with the same employer or 12 years of service with any employer and are under any employment relationship, are entitled to 30 working days leave, if a six-day working week system is applied and 25 working days leave, if a five-day working week system is applied (Article 3 of the National General Collective Labour Agreement 2008/2009). From 01-01-2008, after completing 25 years of service or prior professional service, workers are entitled to 1 additional day of leave, namely a total of 31 working days on a six-day working week basis and 26 working days on a five-day working week basis, respectively.

The time period for granting the annual leave is arranged following an agreement between the employee and the employer. In any case, the latter is obliged to grant the leave to the employee who made a relevant request within two months from the date of the request (paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Emergency Law 539/1945).

The annual leave must be granted by the employer in such a way so that it should be used by 31st December of each calendar year even if the worker has not applied for it (Article 4 of the Emergency Law 539/1945, as it was amended by paragraph 15 of Article 3 of Law 4504/1966 in conjunction with paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Emergency Law 539/1945, as in force, with Article 1 of Law 3302/2004, as well as with Circular 3392/1-3-2005 on that article). At the end of the calendar year, cash payment is offered in exchange for annual leave since the carry-over of unused leave days to the next year is not allowed, even if the worker consents to this.

Night work is the work provided during the night that is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next day (Ministerial Decision 25825/51 and Article 2, paragraph 3 of Presidential Decree 88/99).

Workers who will be employed either throughout the night or only during certain night hours are entitled to a 25% increase on their remuneration laid down by law (Ministerial Decision 25825/51).

In accordance with Article 42 of Law 3986/2011 “Urgent Measures Implementing the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy 2012-2015” (GG A`152) which replaced Article 7 of Law 3846/2010 (GG A`66), the working time arrangement system has been re-established.  

In particular, the new provision now allows enterprises with a contractual working time of up to 40 hours per week to apply an increased employment system (two hours per day in addition to eight hours) for a period of time, provided that the working hours that are beyond forty per week or beyond any smaller contractual working hours shall be deducted from the working hours of another time period, which is a period of reduced employment. The periods of increased and reduced employment may not exceed a total of six months within a period of twelve months (reference period).

Furthermore, in the above enterprises, instead of the previous paragraph’s arrangement, up to two hundred and fifty six (256) hours from the total working time within one calendar year, may be distributed by increasing the number of working hours over certain time periods, which may not exceed thirty-two (32) weeks per year and correspondingly by reducing the number of working hours during the rest of the calendar year.

The working time arrangement is adopted by enterprise-level labour collective agreements or by agreements between the employer and the enterprise’s trade union organization or between the employer and the works council or between the employer and the associations of persons.

Finally, it is pointed out that by enterprise-level and sector-level Labour Collective Agreements, a different system of working time arrangements can be defined, depending on the sector’s or the enterprise’s particularities.

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