1. Scope- Implementation phases

The Digital Working Card has been established by the Law 4808/2021 on Labour Protection in order to provide a tool for accurate and in real time recording of the working hours of all private sector employees. It is implemented to all types of employment (full-time, part-time, internship, apprenticeship etc.), working hours (fixed hours, variable hours, shift work, overtime work) and to all types of leaves taken by the employees. The main aim of this measure is to combat the phenomenon of undeclared and underdeclared work, unpaid overtime work and social security contribution evasion in order to protect the employees, as well as the businesses from unfair competition.

At the present time, the first phase of implementation of the digital working card has already been completed. Specifically, the digital working card is in operation since the 1st of July 2022 regarding the employees of all the country’s Banks and the Supermarket businesses with more than 250 employees. Moreover, the second phase, which is applicable to all businesses-employers in the country, that employ workers under contracts of dependent employment has begun and is in progress, as the census process of the employment’s data and the working hours to the Information System ERGANI II started on 1/11/2022 and ended after an extension on 20/12/2022.

After the completion of the census process of the working hours, the mechanism of the digital working card will be gradually put into full effect by sector of activity. Due to the specificities of each sector of activity, its activation will not be carried out in a generalized way, but will initially be extended to sectors, such as security companies, insurance companies, public enterprises and organizations (DEKO) and industry, while the further goal of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is its application to tourism from the very next tourist season.

  1. Mode of operation

The upgraded system ERGANI II will be updated in real time on the employees’ working hours and will automatically categorize each working hour as regular hour, surplus, overtime work or arrangement, and the same will happen as well regarding the breaks, days off and work permits. The digital working card will be a means of proof for the employee’s arrival and departure from work. On a practical level, its operation will be carried out through the special applications “myErgani mobile app” for the employee and “Ergani CardScanner” for the employer, which they shall have installed on a mobile phone or a tablet. At the same time, employees will be able to view their declared working schedule and their actual employment on their mobile device through the application “myErgani mobile app” in a calendar format.

It is noted that during the digital organization of working time, there is an option of choosing flexible attendance of employees within X minutes and up to a maximum of 120 minutes, starting from the declared beginning of the pre-announced schedule. Currently, there is no relevant possibility of using digital working card remotely in teleworking and off-base working, therefore the previous legal regime still applies. Such a possibility will be given in the next phase by virtue of a competent Presidential Decree.

  1. Problematics

The advantages of using the digital working card are found in the direct and real-time connection with the system of the Ministry of Labour, ERGANI II. This ensures, that none of the parties will be able to intervene and change the data, resulting to the respect of the employees’ working shift and to the payment of their overtime work. At the same time, the possibility of substantial controls by the competent authorities (Labour Inspectorate -‘SEPE’) is facilitated, since they will now know before visiting a workplace which workers should be there and therefore controls become more effective. Furthermore, the employees will be able to use the records of the digital working card as evidence before the Court, while they will have the right to issue a payment order based on its records, since it provides full proof of the actual time of employment.

The adoption of the Employee’s Digital Working Card by all businesses in the country, regardless of size and sector of activity is an important step in the effort to improve the everyday working life of employees and to protect their guaranteed labour rights. However, it is questionable, whether it is the appropriate measure for dealing with the pathologies found in the labour sector. It is certainly an important step in the direction of transparency, but we cannot overlook the possibility of circumvention of the digital card’s use, especially when an employee- after pressure from his/her employer – declares to the system, that his/her working hours have supposedly ended but continues providing his/her work nonetheless. In addition, the foregoing measure entails additional costs and responsibilities for businesses, which are obliged to acquire the appropriate digital equipment and take the necessary measures for the correct implementation of this mechanism, while we cannot overlook the negative consequences that may occur for the employing company, in the event of an incorrect registration of the work shift’s beginning or end by its employees.

Therefore, the results of this measure will be seen in practice and it remains to be determined, if its purposes will be achieved and if the problems and difficulties arising during its implementation will be resolved.