On 16th June 2021, the Greek Parliament adopted the new law 4808/2021 for the protection of the employment, which brings upon substantial changes on individual and collective labour law provisions. This new law constitutes an attempt for modernization of the legal regime governing the employment, adaptation to recent years’ developments and alignment with European regulation and best practices. Without prejudice to more specific provisions, the provisions of the new law are coming into force upon its publication in the Official Government Gazette, i.e. on 19th June 2021.
The main reforms of the new law in the field of employment are the following:
- Adoption of a strict framework for the prevention and combating of violence and harassment at workplace.
L. 4808/2021 establishes the prohibition of violence and harassment of any kind that may be expressed during work or that may be connected with work, as well as imposes obligations to employers to investigate any relevant complaint, provide assistance when an investigation of such incidents takes place and inform employees on the processes that are being followed to address such complaints. The employees that are being affected have the right to appeal before the Labour Inspectorate and the Greek Ombudsman. It should be highlighted that the scope of the prohibition concerns all legal employment relationships.
Enterprises that employ more than 20 persons are obliged to adopt policies for the prevention and combating of violence and harassment at workplace and for the management of internal complaints concerning incidents of violence and harassment.
During the period until the conclusion of a business collective labour agreement, where applicable, or until the drafting or amendment of a labour regulation, as the case may be, which will include policies for combating violence and harassment and managing internal complaints, the employer’s obligation is fulfilled by adopting these policies by their own decision taken within three (3) months from the entry of the law into force, after consultation with employees or their representatives.
- Provisions for a flexible working time, brake, overtime and working on Sunday.
The employee has the right, upon request and through a written agreement with the employer, to ask to be engaged more than eight hours per day, with a respective reduction in working time during other days (arrangement of working time). In this case, it is possible that employer and employee agree to a four days per week working schedule.
The brake during work shall be granted after 4 hours of work instead of 6 hours, as foreseen in previous law.
The number of allowed overtime is being increased to 150 hours per year (instead of 120 as in previous law) and the increment for illegal overtime is increased to 120% of the paid hourly wage (instead of 80% as in previous law).
The list with the enterprises which are excepted from the provisions of compulsory repose on Sunday and national holidays is expanded. This list includes henceforth, inter alia, logistics companies, data centers, call centers, security companies.
- Provisions for the termination of employment contracts and redundancies.
In case of termination of employment contracts with a notice period, the employer may at his discretion release the employee from the obligation to work, partially or totally. In this case, employee’s salary shall be paid properly until the expiration of the notice period and the employer shall not be deemed in default regarding the acceptance of work. The employee has, at the same time, the right to undertake engagement at a different employer during the notice period, with no consequence on the effects of the termination and the amount of compensation payable.
The new law foresees explicitly the reasons why a redundancy of an employee with an employment contract with indefinite term may be invalid. In case a redundancy is recognized by the court as invalid for another reason not provided for in law, the court may adjudicate in favor of the employee – instead of his/her re-employment and payment of due salaries- additional compensation, which cannot be less than the salary of three months nor higher than the double of the redundancy compensation.
It is explicitly provided that teleworking can be agreed between employer and employee either at the hiring stage or later through amendment of the employment contract. By way of exception, teleworking can be unilaterally imposed by the employer for reasons of protection of public health or upon employee’s request provided that there is a proven danger for his/her health. At the same time, the new law foresees the right of disconnection of the tele-worker, namely the right to fully abstain from work and especially to not communicate digitally, not answer on calls, messages, e-mails after the working hours and during holidays.
- Digital work card
In order to monitor overtime work, the digital work card is being introduced. In particular, enterprises – employers are obliged to have at their disposal and operate an electronic system for the counting of worktime of their employees, which shall be directly connected and interoperable at real time with “ERGANI II”. By decision of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, the sectors, size and type of enterprises to which the digital work card system is applied, the terms, conditions, as well as any necessary details for its application, will be defined.
- Establishment of paternity leave, leaves concerning the protection of the family and flexible work provisions for parents.
At an attempt to balance professional and family life, the new law establishes paid paternity leave of 14 working days, parental leave of 4 months for both parents subsidized by OAED for 2 months, 2 days leave for reasons of force majeure, right to choose flexible work schedule for raising children up to 12 years old (such as teleworking, flexible worktime or part-time work). In addition, a series of leaves are being established in order to protect the family, such as leave for the monitoring of school performance, leave for assisted reproduction.
- Changes to annual leave and leave with no salary.
The half of the annual leave will be compulsory granted from 01/05 to 30/09 of each year and the annual leave shall be used up until 31/03 of the following year.
It can be agreed in writing between employer and employee that the latter will take a leave with no salary for a period of no more than one year, renewable upon agreement. During this leave, the employment contract is suspended and no social security contributions are owed.
- Labour Inspectorate
The Independent Authority “Labour Inspectorate” is being established, with the aim to inspect the implementation of employment law, with the parallel disestablishment of SEPE.
- Provisions of collective labour law
The new law also brings upon reforms on collective employment relationships, with the following being the principal ones: obligation for trade unions and employers’ organizations to be electronically registered, possibility of electronic distance vote in trade unions, obligation to pre-announce strikes and stoppages and protection of the rights of employees who are not willing to participate in a strike.
Undoubtedly, all the aforementioned provisions introduced with the new labour law will radically alter the working environment and labour conditions in Greece.