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Employment Law in Greece

The Greek Constitution sets out a number of rights and principles relevant to employment law, such as sex equality, equal pay, non-discrimination on grounds of race, nationality, language and religious or political beliefs, and rights in relation to trade unions, collective bargaining and strikes. The Civil Code lays down certain basic rules governing employment contracts and the parties’ obligations.

Numerous individual laws and presidential decrees govern specific aspects of employment. Most of those relating to the individual employment relationship have (since December 2022) been codified in a Code of Individual Employment Laws (Presidential Decree 80/2022). This Code is — unless otherwise indicated — the source of the legislative information in most chapters of this article (eg on pay, working time/rest, leave, non-discrimination and termination of employment). Health and safety legislation is codified in the Code of Employee Health and Safety Laws (Law 3850/2010). Legislation related to collective employment matters has not yet been codified (though this is planned) and the main statutes in this area are: Law 1264/1982 on the democratisation of the trade union movement and the safeguarding of workers’ trade union freedoms; Law 1876/1990 on free collective bargaining; Law 1767/1988 on works councils; and Presidential Decrees 40/1997 and 240/2006. Employment legislation was subject to frequent amendment during Greece’s financial crisis of the 2010s and in the period since.

Case law, and especially that of the Supreme Court, plays a role in interpreting employment legislation.

A “national general collective agreement” is in place between the GSEE trade union confederation and the main national employers’ organisations, and is renewed regularly. Its non-pay terms are binding throughout the private sector and are the basis for a range of employee entitlements. The agreement also deals with certain aspects of pay (though not wage rates and increases) but these provisions apply only to employers that are members of the signatory organisations. Beneath this level, collective agreements at sectoral/occupational and, mainly, company level set pay and conditions for a minority of employees.

Other important sources of law are individual employment contracts and the internal work regulations that employers with more than 70 employees are required to have in place (dealing with matters such as disciplinary procedures). The terms of employment contracts must comply with employment legislation and applicable collective agreements, and can deviate from these only in the employee’s favour. The terms of collective agreements may deviate from the provisions of employment legislation only where they are more favourable to employees.

In the past, employment legislation made an important distinction between the entitlements of blue-collar and white-collar employees, for example in terms of notice periods and severance payments. However, these differences have now largely been abolished, with the calculation of entitlement to the national minimum wage the main remaining exception.

This article deals only with the private sector.

Employment Law in Greece: Quick Facts
  • Employers may collect personal and process information about job applicants only to the extent that this is strictly necessary for deciding whether to recruit them for the job in question. Recruitment and Selection

  • Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, the first 12 months of an indefinite-term employment contract constitute a probationary period. Recruitment and Selection

  • Employers with more than 50 employees must generally ensure that at least 8% of their workforce is made up of people from specified “protected groups”. Recruitment and Selection

  • An employment contract is defined as an agreement whereby the employee is obliged to provide work to the employer, which is in return required to pay the agreed remuneration. Employment Contracts

  • Employers are obliged to provide employees with certain written information about their main terms of employment, in an employment contract or other document. Employment Contracts

  • The general rule is that the maximum term of a fixed-term contract, including any renewals, is three years, but this does not apply where the contract or its renewal is justified by an “objective” reason (such as a temporary increase in workload). Employment Contracts

  • Remuneration must generally be paid at regular intervals, in euros and into the employee’s bank account, accompanied by an itemised payslip or pay statement. Pay and Benefits

  • A statutory national minimum wage applies to all employees. Pay and Benefits

  • Each year, employees are entitled to receive one month’s pay as a Christmas bonus and half a month’s pay as an Easter bonus.Pay and Benefits

  • In general, employees’ normal working time is set at 40 hours per week, but there are a number of permitted flexibility arrangements. Working Time, Rest and Holidays

  • On top of their normal working hours, employees may perform certain amounts of “additional work” and, in certain circumstances, overtime, for which they are entitled to receive a wage supplement. Working Time, Rest and Holidays

  • Employees must generally be granted a rest break of 15‒30 minutes if they work more than five hours, a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and a weekly rest period of at least 35 hours, in principle including Sunday. Working Time, Rest and Holidays

  • Employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual leave per year (the entitlement increases with service) and an annual holiday bonus worth half a month’s pay. Working Time, Rest and Holidays

  • Working mothers are obliged to take 17 weeks of maternity leave and may take an additional nine months of special maternity leave, while fathers are entitled to 14 working days of paternity leave. Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • Employees are entitled, where relevant, to take various types of parenthood- or care-related leave, including parental leave, childcare leave, carers’ leave, time off for urgent family reasons, leave in the event of the illness of a child or dependant, leave in the event of a child’s hospitalisation, leave for parents with sole custody of a child and leave for medically assisted reproduction. Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • Discrimination in relation to employment is prohibited on grounds of sex (including pregnancy, maternity, family status and gender reassignment), race, colour, national or ethnic origin, descent, religion or belief, disability or chronic illness, age, marital or social status, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Equality and Discrimination

  • Harassment based on the protected characteristics and sexual harassment are prohibited forms of discrimination, and employers must take various measures to combat all types of work-related violence and harassment. Equality and Discrimination

  • Employees have a right to establish and join (or not join) trade unions, and must not be dismissed because of their union membership or non-membership, or for engaging in lawful trade union activity. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Trade unions have various statutory entitlements at company level in terms of negotiation, information, consultation, time off and facilities. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Trade unions and employers/employers’ associations have a right to engage in collective bargaining and an obligation to negotiate in good faith, on request. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Employees have a right to set up a works council in any company with 50 or more employees, or in a company with 20 or more employees where no trade union is present. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Employers have a general statutory duty to ensure employees’ health and safety in every aspect related to the work, and have numerous detailed obligations in this area, while employees also have various duties and rights. Occupational Health and Safety

  • After the first year of service, an employer cannot — apart from in certain exceptional circumstances — dismiss an employee on an indefinite-term contract without giving notice and/or making a severance payment: if the employer does not observe a statutory notice period it must make a full statutory severance payment to the employee, but if it observes this notice period it need make only a reduced severance payment. Termination of Employment

  • In principle, the employer has a right to terminate the employment contract if it follows the correct procedure and makes the requisite severance payment, but it must not exercise this right abusively or dismiss employees for certain reasons, at certain times or in certain circumstances. Termination of Employment

  • Employers with more than 70 employees are required to have in place a set of internal work regulations, dealing with matters such as disciplinary procedures. Other Key Issues