Living and working in Greece

18 Οκτώβριος 2017

  •   Population: 10.7 million (2017)
  •   Real GDP growth: -0.2% (2016)
  •   Unemployment rate: 23.6% (2016)

Data source: Eurostat

Eurofound provides research, data and analysis on a wide range of social and work-related topics. This information is largely comparative, but also offers country-specific information for each of the 28 EU Member States. Most information is available in English but some has been translated to facilitate access at national level.

Eurofound strives to strengthen the ongoing link between its own work and national policy debates and priorities related to quality of life and work. Increasingly important in this context is the Europe 2020 growth and jobs strategy launched in 2010, which has five headline targets, covering employment through to social inclusion and poverty reduction. The strategy is implemented in the context of the European Semester process – the EU's annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance – which ensures that Member States keep their budgetary and economic policies in line with their EU commitments through, in part, National Reform Programmes. These programmes form the basis for the European Commission's proposals for country-specific recommendations (CSRs) for each Member State.

European Commission: The European Semester
European Commission: The European Semester - EU country-specific recommendations
European Commission: European Semester documents for Greece

2015 Eurofound EWCS survey results in Greece: 93% of people consider themselves having the right skills for their job

The country page gives access to Eurofound's most recent survey data and news, directly related to Greece:

Read the highlights for 2018 for working life in Greece

Survey results

Ability to choose or change
methods of work

Data source: 2015 EWCS survey

Possibility to accumulate overtime
for days off

Data source: 2013 ECS survey

Recent developments

Eurofound contacts in Greece

Correspondents in Greece

Correspondents report on topics related to developments in the countries working life and inform Eurofound’s pan-European comparative analysis. Read more

Labour Institute of GSEE (INE/GSEE)

Eurofound governing board members from Greece

Eurofound's Governing Board represents the social partners and national governments of all Member States, as well as the European Commission. Read more

Despoina Michailidou Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity

Cristos Ioannou Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV)

Panagiotis Syriopoulos Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE)

Related content

Other country-specific information may be available in certain areas on demand. Please feel free to contact your country contact at Eurofound for this or any other information at

Living in Greece

Quality of life

Quality of life

Many of the EQLS indicators about the quality of life in Greece have experienced negative development during the years of observation (2003–2016). For instance, life satisfaction in Greece has decreased from 6.7 in 2003 to 5.3 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–10), being the lowest among the EU28 countries (the respective EU average for 2016 stood at 7.1).

Respondents in Greece are also relatively less optimistic in comparison to other EU Member States. Overall, 31% of respondents in Greece were optimistic about their own future in 2016, compared with the EU28 average of 64%. Meanwhile, 25% were optimistic about their children’s or grandchildren’s future, again much lower than the EU28 average of 57%.

However, self-reported health in Greece is among the best in the EU. In 2016, 41% of respondents in Greece rated their health as ‘very good’, while the EU28 average remained significantly lower at 24%.

Life satisfactionMean (1-10)
Taking all things together on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are?Mean (1-10)
Optimism about own futureAgree & strongly agree---31%
Optimism about children’s or grandchildren’s futureAgree & strongly agree---25%
Take part in sports or physical exerciseAt least once a week--21%22%
In general, how is your health?Very good-43%43%41%
WHO-5 mental wellbeing indexMean (1-100)-605861
Making ends meetWith some difficulty, difficulty, and great difficulty66%67%86%86%
I feel I am free to decide how to live my lifeStrongly agree--9%13%
I find it difficult to deal with important problems that come up in my lifeAgree & strongly agree---38%
When things go wrong in my life, it generally takes me a long time to get back to normalAgree & strongly agree---37%

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

The share of respondents being ‘too tired from work to do some of the household jobs which need to be done’ at least several times a month has decreased from 73% in 2011 to 67% in 2016. When looking at the gender breakdowns, it can be observed that this positive development is mainly due to the decreasing share of men experiencing this kind of work–life balance problem. The proportion of men reporting this problem decreased from 73% in 2011 to 64% in 2016. For women, this indicator remained fairly stable (72% in 2011, 71% in 2016).

The other two work–life balance indicators have experienced some deterioration in recent years, as shown below. In 2011, 48% of respondents in Greece reported ‘difficulties to fulfil family responsibilities because of the amount of time spent at work’ at least several times a month, rising to 50% in 2016. The level of those reporting ‘difficulties to concentrate at work because of family responsibilities’ at least several times a month increased from 20% in 2011 to 28% in 2016.

(At least several times a month)   
I have come home from work too tired to do some of the household jobs which need to be doneTotal58%72%73%67%
It has been difficult for me to fulfil my family responsibilities because of the amount of time I spend on the jobTotal37%46%48%50%
I have found it difficult to concentrate at work because of my family responsibilitiesTotal8%20%20%28%

Quality of society

Quality of society

Perceived tensions between poor and rich people have fluctuated in Greece. In 2007, 36% of respondents reported ‘a lot of’ tension between poor and rich people. This share increased to 52% in 2011, and decreased again to 25% in 2016, being lower than the EU28 average of 29%. Perceived tensions between different racial and ethnic groups have also fluctuated. Looking at the findings, 36% reported ‘a lot of’ tension in 2007, 47% in 2011 and 31% in 2016. This type of tension is also below the respective EU28 average of 41%.

The other indicators about the quality of society in Greece tend to be below their respective EU28 averages and have fluctuated in recent years (2007–2016), possibly influenced by the economic crisis.

Social exclusion indexMean (1-5)-
Trust in peopleMean (1-10)
Involvement in unpaid voluntary work% "at least once a month"--4%4%
Tension between poor and rich people% reporting 'a lot of tension'58%36%52%25%
Tension between different racial and ethnic groups% reporting 'a lot of tension'54%36%47%31%
I feel safe when I walk alone after darkStrongly agree---24%

Quality of public services

Quality of public services

Quality ratings for seven public services

Note: scale of 1-10, Source: EQLS 2016.

The perceived quality of public services is on average lower in Greece than in many other EU28 countries. However, some of the indicators have improved in recent years. The perceived quality of the education system increased from 5.1 in 2007 to 5.7 in 2016 and the quality of childcare services also improved from 5.0 in 2007 to 5.5 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–10). However, the perceived quality of the state pension system in Greece has experienced negative development, decreasing from 3.3 in 2007 to 2.6 in 2016.

Health servicesMean (1-10)
Education systemMean (1-10)
Public transportMean (1-10)
Childcare servicesMean (1-10)-
Long-term care servicesMean (1-10)--4.44.4
Social housingMean (1-10)--4.04.0
State pension systemMean (1-10)

Working life in Greece


  • Συντάκτης: Penny Georgiadou
  • Institution: Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE GSEE)
  • Published on: Παρασκευή, Ιούλιος 27, 2018

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Greece. It aims to complement other EurWORK research by providing the relevant background information on the structures, institutions and relevant regulations regarding working life. This includes indicators, data and regulatory systems on the following aspects: actors and institutions, collective and individual employment relations, health and well-being, pay, working time, skills and training, and equality and non-discrimination at work. The profiles are updated annually.


Highlights – Working life in 2018

Highlights – Working life in 2018

Author: Penny Georgiadou, Labour Institute of General Greek Confederation of Labour (INE GSEE)
Updated on: 13 March 2019
Working paper: Greece: Developments in working life 2018

In Greece, after a long period of close economic supervision by the institutions and the implementation of ongoing economic adjustment programmes initiated in 2011, the third economic adjustment programme ended on 20 August 2018. Greece entered into a status of enhanced post-Memorandum supervision but within the framework of EU fiscal rules. Nevertheless, the reforms were to be continued through adherence to post-programme commitments regarding public finances, the labour market, social welfare and the necessary reforms for sustainable growth. Fiscally, Greece pledged to maintain a primary budget surplus of 3.5% of GDP for the period 2019–2022, with a primary budget surplus of 2.2% of GDP for the period 2023–2060. These commitments would keep the country under a regime of tight budgetary discipline and concerns were raised as to whether the economic growth target was realistic.

After eight years of austerity programmes, the situation in the labour market started to improve in 2018. Unemployment fell to 19% in 2018 from 28% in 2013, 300,000 new jobs were created during the period from 2015 to 2018 and a number of new legislative measures were enforced in order to improve working conditions. Special emphasis was given to combating undeclared work with the technical support of the ILO as well as to strengthening the Labour Inspectorate and its inspections.

The year saw some significant improvements in the working life of employees, namely, the restoration of the obligatory extension of sectoral agreements – despite certain limitations – together with the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage by 11% from 1 February 2019 and the abolition of the sub-minimum wage for young people under the age of 25.

Nevertheless, other factors continued to create an insecure environment for workers and the unemployed. Additional parameters that had a significant impact on wage earners in 2018 included the abolition of benefits; a higher tax burden through both indirect and direct taxes; greater flexibility in employment; an increase in the retirement age; a severe reduction in pensions; an increase in unemployment; the emigration of a large number of nationals, mainly young people; the low birth rate; and the – still – low level of investment in the country.

As of early 2019, following the country’s exit from the economic adjustment programme, efforts were emerging to promote social dialogue. However, these efforts still lacked substantive content, since traditionally important areas of social dialogue had been assumed by the government, such as the setting of the minimum wage by the national social partners through collective bargaining, the system in force from 1980 to 2010. Under the new mechanism introduced in September 2018, the involvement of the social partners in the new mechanism for setting the minimum wage would go no further than formulating opinions and sending studies during the consultation. On the other hand, the social partners themselves, through the national collective agreement which they continued to sign, appeared keen to expand their cooperation into wider areas, such as tackling unemployment and the establishment of a bipartite occupational pension fund.

Key figures

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Greece




% (point) change







GDP per capita







Unemployment rate – total







Unemployment rate – women







Unemployment rate – men







Unemployment rate – youth





- 11.7


Employment rate – total







Employment rate – women







Employment rate – men







Employment rate – youth








Source: Eurostat – Real GDP per capita (chain linked volumes (2010), in EUR) and percentage change 2012–2017 (both based on tsdec100). Unemployment rate by sex and age – annual average, % [une_rt_a]; Employment rate by sex and age - annual average, % [lfsi_emp_a].



Economic and labour market context

Since the onset of the economic crisis, the Greek economy has been in recession and has had high unemployment levels. Between 2012 and 2017, Greek GDP increased by 1.2%, considerably lower than the EU average growth of 7.4% for the same period. Unemployment figures have started to decrease, in particular for youth (-11.7%). Youth unemployment stood at 43.6% in 2017, while the EU average for this group was 16.8%. There was some slight increase in total employment figures in the last five years (+0.8%), with more substantial increase (+2.0%) for women.

More information on:

Legal context

There is no a single labour law or code for governing the individual labour relations. On the contrary, there is a large number of different laws as well as labour regulations. In the period 2010–2013, as a result of the bailout programme and the implementation of the so called ‘Memoranda’ signed between the Greek government and the ‘Troika’ (IMF, EU, ECB), more than 28 new laws were introduced in the field of labour relations. The new legislation aimed to introduce ‘structural reforms’ in the labour market, mainly through the drastic reduction of labour costs and the widespread implementation of work flexibility. Also major reforms were introduced in the collective bargaining system of the initial Law No. 1876/90. From 2010, a series of legislative interventions were made targeting to the ‘decentralisation’ of collective bargaining (Laws No. 3899/2010, No. 4024/2011, No. 4046/2012, No. 4093/2012, No. 4172/2013).

As regards trade unions, their operation and basic rights (recognition, representativeness, right to strike) are set in law No. 1264/1982, which is still in force with some minor modifications over the years.

There is no specific legislation regarding employers’ representation. The law on collective bargaining refers to employers’ organisations of wider representation, which can sign agreements in the field of their domain

Industrial relations context

Until 1990, collective bargaining was characterised by a very strong state interventionism and centralisation in setting wages and shaping the working conditions and rights both at national and sectoral levels ( Law No. 3239/1955).

From 1990 to 2010, the framework for negotiations was provided by legislation (Law No. 1876/90), which introduced a free collective bargaining system in which Mediation and Arbitration procedures (provided by an independent body, OMED) played an important role.

The main levels of collective bargaining in Greece have been: national level, covering the whole economy; sectoral/occupational level covering the majority of sectors and occupations and company level. Under this structure national level bargaining produced a General National Collective Agreement (known as EGSSE), which set the national minimum wage, as well as dealing with other broader issues such as leaves and training. At the same time bargaining at sectoral/occupational level and then at company level built on this basis in order to provide better pay and conditions.

This structure has been fundamentally changed by the measures introduced at the beginning of 2010. With a series of consecutive legislative interventions (Laws No. 3899/2010, No. 4024/2011, No. 4046/2012, No.4093/2012, No. 4172/2013), the new system took the following characteristics: (a) the EGSEE and the sectoral collective agreements (SCA) are applicable only to the members, (b) the mechanism of extending the collective has been abolished, (c) the company-based agreements are implemented by priority (d) the mechanism of Arbitration (OMED) can only be used if employers and employees agree. This provision was reversed in 2014 after the issuing by the Council of State of a Decision, re-establishing the right of unilateral appeal to Arbitration procedures but a new regulation (Law 4303/2014), established a series of new preconditions as regards the use of the Arbitration system, which in fact make it difficult to take place.

Additionally, under Law No. 4046/12, all the collective agreements cannot be valid for more than three years (the maximum). After the expiry of the agreement, there are only three months for negotiation of renewing it.

Also, the national social partners have no longer the ability to set the national minimum wage through the National General Collective Employment Agreement (EGSSE). New legislation (Law 4093/2012, Law 4172/2012) has given the Greek government sole authority to do this, merely having to consult the social partners. This fundamental change in the Greek system of industrial relations is affecting the coverage of collective bargaining in the country, and it seems likely that is falling sharply.

Actors and institutions

Actors and institutions

Trade unions, employers’ organisations and public institutions play a key role in the governance of the employment relationship, working conditions and industrial relations structures. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes the European, national, sectoral, regional (provincial or local) and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Greece.

Public authorities involved in regulating working life

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its agency (Labour Inspectorate) is the public authority having the responsibility of supervising labour relations and working conditions, in the following fields:

  • the regulation of individual and collective labour relations and social security laws;
  • gender equality and equal opportunities;
  • employment services;
  • social integration of foreign workers;
  • social protection and rehabilitation of special workers’ categories;
  • helping people with disabilities;
  • vocational training;
  • prevention of occupational accidents and occupational diseases;
  • management of EU funds, community and other resources related to the development of human resources;
  • representation of Greece in the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Labour Inspectorate (SEPE) is supervised by (and reports to) the Ministry of Labour. The main legislative framework concerning SEPE’s mission and duties is Law No. 3996/2011. It supervises the application of labour legislation and its inspectors visit workplaces and can fine employers for non-compliance with the law. It is also authorised to mediate in any individual or collective labour dispute and to take immediate administrative measures to enforce sanctions or refer the matter to the penal court.

The Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) is also supervised by the Ministry of labour and deals with: getting people into work; managing unemployment insurance and maternity leave; implementing vocational education and training programmes, including apprenticeship.


In the private sector and the broader public sector, as regards trade unions’ operation and their basic rights (recognition, representativeness, right to strike), these are set out in Law No. 1264/1982, which is in force until today. At national level, there is only one workers’ confederation, the General Confederation of Greek Labour ( GSEE).

Regarding employers’ representativeness, there is no specific legislation. The Law on collective bargaining (Law No. 1876/1990) refers to ‘employers’ organisations of wider representation’, which can sign collective agreements in the field of their domain. At the national level there are four recognised employers’ associations: the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), which represents big industry and big companies; the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), which represents mainly the SMEs in Commerce; the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), which represents mainly the SMEs in industry and part of commerce; and the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE). It is important to note that SETE was recognised only recently as a national social partner by Law No. 4144/2013.

In the public sector, the Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) is the only national-level trade union of public sector workers. ADEDY represents employees of the government, of local authorities and of legal bodies under the exclusive control of the state or local authorities (public legal entities).

More information on representativeness of the main social partner organisations can be found in Eurofound’s representativeness study of the cross-industry social partners or in Eurofound’s sectoral representativeness studies.

Trade unions

About trade union representation

Law No. 1264/1982 is the basic legislation that governs the broader functioning of the trade union movement and recognises trade union rights. According to the Law, at least 21 employees have the right to establish a trade union and get validation from the court. This form of union is the so-called ‘primary union’ (that most fundamental form of union organisation), which organises individual persons in a profession, in a sector, in a service or in a company/establishment.

Trade unions in the private sector are organised at three separate levels: the primary level unions; the secondary level which has two types of organisation: a) the federations which consist of two or more primary unions of a sector or a profession and b) the Labour Centres which represent unions at the local level; and c) the tertiary level, being the national confederations.

There are two confederations, one for workers and employees in the private sector (GSEE) and one for workers and employees in the public sector (ADEDY). Both confederations are affiliated members of ETUC.

The Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) represents private sector workers and employees, including those working in the public utility services, and in private bodies in which the state has a majority stake (such as the Public Power Corporation SA, the Hellenic Post).

The Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) is the national-level trade union of public sector workers. Its unions represent employees of the government, of local authorities and of legal bodies under the exclusive control of the state or local authorities (public legal entities, NPDD).

Two professional categories are excluded from the specific provisions of Law No. 1264/1982: partly the journalists who can also organise pensioners and ships’ workers/crews that have a special trade union law.

There is also a special trade union right regime for some categories, such as the uniformed personnel (police, coast guard, and armed forces), the clergy and the judiciary. These categories have principally the right to form a trade union or a professional association, but they cannot fully exercise some rights such as the right to strike.

In general, there are no national data available on the main trends regarding trade union density. As regards the private sector, a recent study of INE-GSEE (2013) estimates that the trade union density is approximately 28.1%. From 2,454,266 employees (ELSTAT 2011), who potentially can be covered and represented by GSEE and ADEDY, the number of employees who voted in order to elect representatives to the GSEE and ADEDY Congresses (March and November 2013) was 690,247.

According to data of 2016, from 2,371,929 employees (ELSTAT 2016, Q1 quarterly), who potentially can be covered and represented by GSEE and ADEDY, the number of employees who voted in order to elect representatives to the GSEE and ADEDY Congresses (March and November 2016) was 612,325.

Finally, trade unions are not generally involved in pensions or unemployment schemes or closed shop systems.

Trade union membership and trade union density






Trade union density in terms of active employees




690,247 (voted members)











(3rd Quarter of the year- the most recent)


612,325 (voted members)

ELSTAT (Labour Force Survey Section)

GSEE and


(information was collected from interviews with representatives of the organisations and it refers to data derived from their congresses)

Trade union membership in 1000





Data processing INE GSEE

Main trade union confederations and federations

The biggest federations within GSEE are:

  • the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE);
  • the Federation of Private Employees (OIYE);
  • the Federation of Personnel of the Public Power Corporation SA (GENOP/DEI);
  • and the Federation of Greek Builders and associated professions (OMOIKEL);

The biggest Labour Centres are the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) followed by those in Thessaloniki Labour Centre and the Piraeus Labour Centre (EKP).

The biggest federations within ADEDY are:

  • the Greek Teachers' Federation (DOE);
  • the Panhellenic. Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN);
  • the Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (OLME);
  • and the Panhellenic Federation of Workers Associations in the Local Government (POE-OTA).

Main trade union confederations and federations

Long name



Involved in collective bargaining?


Involved in collective bargaining?

Greek General Confederation of Labour


GSEE consists of 73 sectoral or sectoral / occupational Workers’ Federations, and 81 Labour Centres.

Total number of ‘voting’ members: represented in GSEE are: 417,247 (data 2013)


GSEE consists of 68 sectoral or sectoral / occupational Federations, and 79 Labour Centres. (data 2016)

Total number of ‘voting’ members: represented in GSEE are: 358,761 (data 2016)


Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 43,584 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 36,562 (data 2016)


Greek Federation of Private Employees


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 22,236 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 22,709 (data 2016)


Federation of Personnel of the Public Power Corporation SA


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 14,409 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 12,121 (data 2016)


Federation of Greek Builders and associated professions


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 13,062 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 12,139 (data 2016)


Confederation of Public Servants


ADEDY consists of 45 Federations.

Total number of ‘voting’ members: 264,498 (data 2013)


ADEDY consists of 31 Federations.

Total number of ‘voting’ members: 253,564 (data 2016)


Greek Teachers' Federation


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 59,773 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: about 59,625 (data 2016)


Panhellenic. Federation of Public Hospital Employees


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 38,721 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: about 37,500 (data 2016)


Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 43,906 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: about 37,500 (data 2016)


Panhellenic Federation of Workers Associations in the Local Government


Total number of ‘voting’ members: 40,416 (data 2013)


Total number of ‘voting’ members: about 37.500 (data 2016)


There have been no recent major organisational developments in trade union organisations.

Employers’ organisations

About employers’ representation

The right of a company or of a single employer to become a member of an employers’ association is totally voluntary and free. There is no specific law to govern the functioning of the associations of employers. The constitution of an employers’ association sets the rules of membership, the rights and the obligations.

There are various types of organising, either horizontally or vertically, according to sector, the size of a company and the locality. Other employers’ associations organise only individual companies, some organise and represent associations or federations of employers and some do both.

There is no data on employers’ organisation density.

The main organisational trend over the past years is that the existing peak (national) employers’ associations have made an effort to broaden the scope of their organisational capacity/domain and strengthen their representativeness.

This is the case for SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enterprises) which in 2007 changed its constitution in an effort to represent big entrepreneurship and renamed itself (formerly it was ‘Federation of Greek Industries’). Also, ESEE now has been renamed the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (formerly the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce) and changed its Constitution (2014) in order to represent the whole commerce sector as well as SMEs in general.

Employers’ organisations – membership and density





Employers’ organisation density in terms of active employees




Visser (2014)

Employers’ organisation density in private sector establishments*




European company survey 2013

*Percentage of employees working in an establishment which is member of any employer organisation that is involved in collective bargaining.

Main employers’ organisations

There are four main employers’ associations. They have a national character, are recognised as national social partners (collective bargaining and social dialogue) and it is broadly accepted that they cover the majority of the economic activity of the country.

The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) was founded in 1907, initially representing the big industrial firms but over the years was evolved and now actually represents the big companies independently of sectors. SEV has individual companies as members, but also includes local and sectoral organisations of employers, such as the Federation of the Textile Industries, the Federation of Industrial Cotton Spinners, the Tire Industries Federation, the Federation of Millers, and the Greek Pharmaceutical Industries Federation. SEV is a member of BUSINESSEUROPE and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).

The Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE) was founded in 1919 and is the national-level organisation representing SMEs mainly in small industry and in a part of commerce. It comprises 90 federations (59 local and 30 sectoral level and 1 of pensioners), with 140,000 individual companies as members (data October 2016). GSEVEE is a member of the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

The Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) was founded in 1994 and is the national- level organisation representing mainly the SMEs in commerce. ESEE represents 14 federations of traders’ associations, most of them of local nature and 308 local traders’ associations with almost 100,000 member companies (data 2016). ESEE is an affiliated member both in UEAPME and in EuroCommerce.

The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) was founded in 1991 by entrepreneurs in the tourism sector. SETE consists of 14 national sector-level associations, representing more than 50,796 enterprises including small and large hotels, rented accommodation, travel and tourist agencies, car and boat renting businesses, tourist buses, marina holdings, coastal shipping enterprises, catering chains, and conference organisers (data 2016). The institutional recognition of SETE as a national social partner equal in rank with the other representative employer organisations was introduced recently with Law 4144/2013.

Main employers’ organisations and confederations

Long name




Involved in collective bargaining



Hellenic Federation of Enterprises


Sectoral and regional federations

Associations of companies

Individual Companies



Sectoral and regional federations

Associations of companies

Individual Companies



Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants


Sectoral and


About 120,000 member companies (indirectly via its member associations)



90 Sectoral and regional federations

1,100 main unions with 140,000 natural persons (entrepreneurs) registered


Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship


14 territorial federations of traders’ associations.

283 primary level traders’ associations at the city level.

About 90,000 member companies



14 territorial federations of traders’ associations.

308 primary level traders’ associations at the city level.

About 100,000 member companies


Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises


Formal members: 14 sectoral national associations (with 49,987 member companies and 454 separate tourist units)



Formal members: 14 sectoral national associations (with 50,311 member companies and 485 separate tourist units)


There is no data available on the main trends regarding density in employers’ organisations.

Tripartite and bipartite bodies and concentration

The main tripartite/bipartite bodies in Greece are detailed below.

The Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) was established in 1994 and has followed the EESC model based on the tripartite-plus structure of the interests represented, namely: the employers’ group, the employees’ group and the various interests’ group, the latter representing farmers, freelance professionals, local government, consumers, environmental protection organisations, people with disabilities and organisations on issues of gender equality. The main work of OKE is to issue formal opinions on social and economic issues, either before a draft law is submitted to the Parliament or on its own initiative. The OKE bodies are: the General Assembly, the Executive Committee, the Council of Presidents, the President and the three Vice-Presidents. The Executive Committee appoints Work Committees and a rapporteur in order to collect information and prepare a proposal of Opinion to be expressed by OKE. The Work Committee prepares a draft Opinion and submits it to the Executive Committee for approval. The final decision on the Opinion is taken by the General Assembly. In many cases, the relevant Minister participates in the deliberations of the General Assembly. OKE is a permanent consultation body providing opinions into the government by law authorisation.

The Arbitration and Mediation Organisation (OMED) established with Law No. 1876/1990 (as amended with later legislation) is an independent institution in the service of the social partners when they fail to conclude a collective agreement. OMED is a bipartite body which is administrated by the social partners (Presidential Degree No 98/2014). The administrative board consists of 9 members: 4 members appointed by GSEE, 4 members appointed by the employers’ associations (SEV, ESEE, GSEVEE, SETE) and 1 independent President elected unanimously by the parties. Also, in the OMED administrative board, one (1) representative of the Ministry of Labour participates as an observer, without the right to vote. OMED’s mission is to provide mediation and arbitration services on collective bargaining according to the existing legislation.

Proposals by the mediators are not binding; but decisions by the arbitrators are. Under Law 1876/1990, trade unions traditionally resorted unilaterally to the Mediation and Arbitration proceedings in order to get an arbitration decision (which, in law, is equated to a collective agreement). This unilateral recourse to Arbitration was abolished in 2010 by Law 3899/2010 but was partly reversed in 2014 after the issuing by the Council of State of a decision that made again lawful the right of unilateral appeal to arbitration procedures; however, the new regulation (Law 4303/2014) established a series of new preconditions as regards the use of the Arbitration system, which in practice make it difficult to take place.

The Government Council for Employment was established by a Decision of the ‘Council of Ministers’ (No.13/14.04.2014) with the aim of developing proposals and measures for combating unemployment. Parties in the council are the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and other Ministers related to the National Strategy for Growth and Employment. Also, in the Council participate all the leaders of the five national social partners

(GSEE, SEV, ESEE, GSEBEE, SETE) who can suggest policies and measures on combating unemployment. (In practice, the function of the Council has become inactive).

Another institution in Greece which promotes the dialogue on OSH (Occupational Safety and health) between representatives of employers and employees, at national or sectoral level, is the Council for Health and Safety at Work (SYAE). It is a tripartite-plus representative consultation body established in 1985. By legislation (art 26 Law 3850/2010), SYAE provides opinions concerning all OSH issues, including draft legislation. It consists of representatives from social partners (GSEE, SEV, GSEVEE, ESEE, SETE), representatives of the Ministry for Development, Competitiveness & Shipping, the Ministry of Health & Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security & Social Solidarity, and the Ministry of Finance as well as of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE), the Pan-Hellenic Medical Association (PIS), the Greek Chemists’ Association (EEX), the National Association of Local Authorities (KEDKE).

Main tripartite and bipartite bodies




Issues covered

Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE)



Wages, skills, training, working time, unemployment, industrial relationships

Organisation of Mediation and Arbitration (O.ME.D)



Wages, working time, working conditions.

Government Council for Employment




Council for Health and Safety at Work (SYAE)



Occupational Safety and health

Workplace-level employee representation

At the workplace level employees are represented by the following bodies:

  • Trade unions;
  • Association of persons;
  • Works Councils;
  • Health and safety delegates and committees.

Company-based trade unions can be established by at least by 21 workers in companies or establishments with more than 50 employees (Law No. 1264/1982). The company-based union has full rights in concluding collective agreements and in consultation and information processes.

The association of persons’ is not an official recognised trade union and was introduced with the Law No. 4024/2011, in order to facilitate the collective bargaining in small enterprises, where a trade union is non-existent. It can be established by three-fifths of the employees; there is no limit on how long they operate and they can sign collective agreements for companies of any size.

Works councils can exist alongside the company-based councils under Law 1767/1988. They have all the rights of information and consultation, but no right in collective bargaining. Works councils can only be set up in larger workplaces, with 50 employees or more or can also be set up in workplaces with between 20 and 49 employees if there is no union. However, in practice, this does not occur. The request to set up a works council must be made either by the primary level union or by 10% of the workforce. They are elected by the whole workforce and consist only of employees. In reality, only a few companies have works councils, and if there is no union, there will not be a works council. Their position is clearly less powerful than that of the union and they have not been widely set up, other than in larger companies.

Health and safety delegates can be elected in workplaces with more than 20 employees and a health and safety committee can also be set up in workplaces with more than 50 employees. Health and Safety delegates/committees have a consultative role on the issues concerned (Law 1568/1985).

Regulation, composition and competences of the bodies




Competences of the body

Involved in company-level collective bargaining?

Thresholds/rules when they need to be/can be set up

Enterprise-level union

Επιχειρησιακό σωματείο

Law No1264/1982

Member workers of the union in companies/ sector/



Minimum 21 workers

Works council

Συμβούλιο Εργαζομένων

Law No. 1767/1988

All company employees independently of trade union membership

No. (only information and consultation rights)

Only can be set up in companies with more than 50 employees or at companies with no union presence, which employs 20–49 employees.

The request to set up a works council must be made either by the primary level union or by 10% of the workforce.

Association of persons

Ένωση προσώπων

Law 4024/2011

All company employees independently of trade union membership


It can be established by three-fifths of the employees in a company.

Health and safety delegates and health and safety committees.

(Εκπρόσωποι Υγιεινής και Ασφάλειας


Επιτροπές Υγιεινής και Ασφάλειας)

Law 1568/1985

All company employees independently of trade union membership


One health and safety delegate in companies up to 20 persons employed.

Health and safety committee according to the number of employed persons (from 2 persons for companies with more 50 employees up to 7 persons in companies with more than 2,000 employees)


Employee representation at establishment level

In the figure, we see a comparison between Greece and European Union for the people with 'Establishment size : All' when asked 'Official structure of employee representation present at establishment'. For the 'Yes' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'No' answer, Greece's score is higher than the European Union score. The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: ECS 2013. Private sector establishments with more than 10 employees. Eurofound data visualisation.

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

The central concern of employment relations is the collective governance of work and employment. This section looks into collective bargaining in Greece.

Bargaining system

Before the crisis, until 2010, according to the initial legislation of 1990 (Law No. 1896/90), collective bargaining took place at three levels: the National General Collective Agreement (EGSSE) set the national minimum wages and conditions of work; the sectoral or/and occupational based collective agreements set the minimum wages and work conditions for the respective sectors and occupations; and the company-based agreements. The sectoral/occupational agreements could not set lower wages and less favourable working conditions than of those agreed by EGSSE. In the same way, the company-based agreements could not provide for lower wages and less favourable working conditions than of those of the sectoral level. Also, at national and sectoral level, there was an extension mechanism, making the agreements binding for all (employers, employees), while a system of unilateral use of Arbitration was in existence.

After 2010, a series of legislative interventions (Laws No. 3899/2010, No. 4024/2011, No. 4046/2012, No. 4093/2012, No. 4172/2013) were made in the established system of the previous existing free collective bargaining legislative framework and radically transformed it.

The changes targeted the full ‘decentralisation’ of collective bargaining. Its main characteristics were to dismantle the ‘hierarchical' relationship between the bargaining levels, weakening the importance and the binding character of the inter-sectoral and sectoral bargaining; to make collective agreements binding only for members of employers’ associations and trade unions; to make company-based collective agreements predominant; abolish the extension mechanism; establish a voluntary arbitration procedure; and legislate for a new mechanism of setting minimum wages by the government and not by the social partners through the National General Collective Agreement (EGSSE).

Wage bargaining coverage

There are no national data on wage bargaining coverage and there is no monitoring authority or mechanism. The rate of collective wage bargaining coverage is assumed to be very low because of the abolition of the extension mechanism.

Collective wage bargaining coverage of employees at different levels




All levels


2013 – ECS

All, excluding national level


2013 – ECS

All levels


2010 – SES

Sources: Eurofound, European Company Survey 2013 (ECS), private sector companies with establishments >10 employees (NACE B-S) – multiple answers possible; Eurostat, Structure of Earnings survey, companies >10 employees (NACE B-S), single answer: more than 50% of employees covered by such an agreement. 

Bargaining levels

After 2010 and the collective bargaining reforms, today the most important/frequent level is the company level.

According to data of the Ministry of Labour, the evolution of the different levels of collective agreements clearly show the trend towards the decentralisation of collective bargaining.

Levels of bargaining, 2010–2016










General National, Intersectoral (EGSSE 2010-2012)









National sectoral or professional









Local sectoral or professional






















General National, Intersectoral (EGSSE 2010-2012)

Universally binding

Universally binding

On wages not universally binding applies only to members after 14.2.2012

No wage setting.

Other terms of employment universally binding

National sectoral or professional

Extension mechanism (yes)

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members

No Extension mechanism applies only to members

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members

Local sectoral or professional

Extension mechanism (yes)

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members


Applies for all employees in the company, independent of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independent of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independent of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independent of membership

Note: All collective agreements have a maximum period of force of 3 years.

According to the current framework, company-based agreements prevail even though they contain less favourable wage terms than those of the respective sectoral/professional collective agreements or the EGSEE. However, a company-based agreement cannot set lesser wages than those set by the government and must comply with the national minimum wage.

The EGSEE and the sectoral agreements are binding only for members of employers’ associations and trade unions, and because there is there is no mechanism to check membership, they have become simply indicative in nature.

Regarding working time, the law permits collective agreement working time arrangements at company level that do not exceed 40 hours work/per week averaged out over one year.

Levels of collective bargaining, 2016


National level (Intersectoral)

Sectoral level

Company level



Working time


Working time


Working time

Principal or dominant level




Important but not dominant level





Existing level

No influence***



*Concerns only the WT arrangements within a company without exceeding of the total maximum working time set by the law.
**Weekly working time is a term of the EGSSE of 1984, which was ratified by law and sets the maximum limits.
***After 2012 the minimum wage is defined by the government and the EGSSE includes only non wage -issues. In theory may determine wages but only for the signatory parties.


The main characteristic of the system is the disconnection of the previous existing ‘hierarchical’ relationship between the different bargaining levels since the company-based agreements prevail against all the others, even if they are less favourable for the workers. The National General Inter-sectroral agreement and the sectoral/occupational agreements are binding only for the members of both parties and no extension mechanism exists. Finally, the national minimum wage is set by the government and only this is obligatory for all.

Timing of the bargaining rounds

Traditionally the negotiation of the EGSSE starts at the beginning of the year after the expiration of the agreement. Sectoral and company-based collective bargaining start when the respective agreement has expired. There is no specific or fixed period /timing for bargaining rounds.


There are no specific coordination mechanisms.

Extension mechanisms

According to Law 1876/90, the Minister of Labour can extend and generally declare as compulsory a collective agreement for all workers in the industry, in the case that this agreement covers employers who employ 51% of the workforce in the respective sector. The extension could be requested by the competent trade union or the employers ' association.

The above extension has been suspended as long as the Greece implements the bail-out agreements. (Law No 4024/2011). With a new  Law No 4472/17,  the re-establishment of the  extension mechanism has been   foreseen after the end of the current support Programme, without providing a specific end-date.    

Derogation mechanisms

Law No. 3845/2010 and subsequent legislation give the possibility to the company-based agreements to derogate from the respective sectoral/professional collective agreements as well as from the EGSEE. The lower limit is the national minimum wage set by the government. This concerns the wage setting. As regards working time issues, lower-level agreements (company-based agreements) can derogate from the higher level (sectoral agreements), but by the EGSEE and legislation the weekly working time cannot exceed 40 hours.

Expiry of collective agreements

According to Law No. 4046/2012, collective employment agreements can only be fixed-term, with a minimum duration of one year and a maximum duration of three years. Previously, provision was made for the ability to conclude collective agreements of indefinite term as well.

With the same Law, the pre-existing system of ‘extension’ and ‘after effect’ of collective agreements changed. Now, when a collective agreement has expired without renewal, only a part of the collective agreement remains in force. The existing framework provides for: an extension period of three months of the old collective agreement until the signing of a new one; the new ‘after effect’ regime does not oblige the employers to pay the entire amount of the employee’s remuneration, but only the basic salary (of the sector, occupation or firm) and four specific allowances related to seniority, children, studies and hazardous work. These reductions can be imposed unilaterally by the employer and without the employee’s consent until replaced by a new Collective Employment Agreement or a new individual contract between the employer and the employee, which might contain even more disadvantageous terms. Provision is made for a freeze of increases due to the completion of one year at the same employer, the so-called ‘service maturity’ with suspension of the effect of any relevant law, provision, collective agreement or even arbitration decision.

It is noted that Law N. 4331/2015 re-established the six-month period, but later with a new Law N. 4336/2015 the three-month period was established again.

Therefore, today, at the expiry of each separate collective agreement, it remains in force for a three-month period for re-negotiation (according to the last law in place (N. 4336/2015).

Peace clauses 

As a rule, an obligation to maintain industrial peace is inherent in collective agreements and results from the obligation to implement agreements in good faith. The peace obligation prohibits the parties to the collective agreement from collectively using instruments such as strikes or lock-outs during the period of its validity in order to overthrow or modify what was agreed. 

Restrictions on the peace obligation may arise from previous collective agreements or arbitration decisions, which are also constitutionally protected. A peace obligation does not have to be agreed solely by a collective agreement but can also be agreed upon by a simple agreement between a trade union and an employer.

Other aspects of working life addressed in collective agreements

Collective labour agreements in Greece traditionally and mainly address salary issues, together with benefits and allowances and other working issues such as leave. After removing the ability to fix the minimum salary and wage from the scope of the EGSSE (Law 4093/2012 and Act no. 6 of the Cabinet of Ministers), the social partners at national level started to deal with broader issues regarding the labour market and to develop common actions. 

In the 2016 EGSEE, social partners commit to the following:

  • ensure the continuation of institutional conditions established by previous EGSSEs and reaffirm that, in the case of the provisions on intervention in the EGSSE being lifted, they will begin direct negotiations to determine the pay terms of the agreement – including the minimum wage;
  • agree that ‘after exploring the possibility of cooperating with the International Labour Organisation, they will take the necessary steps for the implementation of actions to help tackle the refugee immigration problem’;
  • have decided on the incorporation into Greek law of the European framework agreement on inclusive labour markets, signed on 25 March 2010 by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Confederation of European Business (BUSINESSEUROPE), the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP);
  • agree to develop an action plan to assess obstacles and implement actions to promote active inclusion in the labour market; for example, looking at issues such as access and reintegration.

In the 2017 EGSEE, the social partners agreed to:

  • cooperate under the aegis of the Ministry of Labour to combat undeclared work, building on ILO proposals in the 2016 Diagnostic report on undeclared work in Greece 
  •  adopt new measures to combat racism and discrimination in the workplace
  • approve the text of the National Strategy on Health and Safety at Work from the Hellenic Institute for Health and Safety at Work (ELINYAE) and agreed to submit it jointly to the government for adoption.

Industrial action and disputes

Industrial action and disputes

The right to strike is protected by the Greek Constitution (Article 23(1). A lawful strike may be called only by ‘legally constituted’ trade unions. According to Law 1264/1982, a primary union may call a strike only by a decision of its general assembly. According a new law 4152/2018 (article 211), the discussion and the decision for conducting strike in a company / plant, requires the participation of the 50% of the 'financially settled union members' (e.g. those who have paid membership fees). However, for brief stoppages of a few hours, which may not be repeated more often than once a week, a decision of the union's executive council is sufficient unless its standing rules stipulate otherwise.

In the case of second-level unions (federations) and the confederation level (GSEE), a strike is called by a decision of their executive council unless their standing rules stipulate otherwise. There is an obligation to give the employer at least 24 hours' notice of the intention to strike and the demands. With respect to public service and utility enterprises a four-day notification is required. The trade union organisation which calls a strike must ensure that, for the duration of the strike, emergency staff remains available in sufficient numbers to guarantee the safety of plant and equipment and prevent disasters or accidents. The recruitment of strike-breakers is not permitted during a strike, while a lock-out is explicitly prohibited by law.

Other forms of industrial action outside the legal framework, such as blockages and unofficial strikes, are illegal.

According to a recent Law (N. 4325/2015), the so-called ‘political conscription of strikers’ (the obligation to end the strike and provide compulsory work or services) is prohibited in general and it is permitted only and strictly in the case of war, of national defense, of physical disaster or when public health is threatened.

The most important/frequent types of strikes in Greece are:

  • General Strike (‘Geniki Apergia’- Γενική απεργία), called by the confederation (GSEE) in all sectors of economy and all employees have the right to stop work – this usually has the form of a 24-hour strike;
  • Work Stoppage (‘Stasi Ergasias’-Στάση εργασίας), called by the trade union of the appropriate level (national, sectoral/professional, company) for fewer hours than a full working day;
  • Sectoral strike (kladiki Apergia –Κλαδική απεργία), called by a sectoral federation or by a sectoral / professional primary level union against the employer or government in the case of public sector unions.

Other industrial actions include rallies, marches, withdrawal of labour, picketing and demonstrations.

Industrial action developments 2012– 2015







Number of strikes (national, sectoral, enterprise level),






Number of other actions (work stoppage, rallies, marches, withdrawal of labour, picketing, demonstrations)






Source: INE GSEE, Annual report of strike action taken in Greece since 2009 and magazine Enimerosi, no 231, October 2016 no 232, November – December 2016.

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms in Greece are as follows.

  • Conciliation (Law No. 3996/2011): The mechanism takes place under the authority of the Ministry of Labour and the responsibility of the Labour Inspectorate. Its aim is to solve collective labour disputes with the involvement of the competent services of the Labour Inspectorate and end the conflict. The process of conciliation examines collective disputes on the implementation of labour legislation in the workplace, implementation of the collective agreements as well as issues that not covered by collective agreements. Conciliation is voluntary and it is distinct from mediation and arbitration mechanisms.
  • Mediation (Laws No. 1876/1990, No. 3899/2010, Νo. 4046/2012): The mechanism takes place under the authority of the Organisation of Mediation and Arbitration (OMED) and starts after the failure of negotiations to conclude a collective agreement. Mediation is conducted by an independent mediator, who helps the parties to achieve agreement. At the end of the process the mediator has the right to submit a resolution proposal, unless the parties agree to proceed to the collective agreement.
  • Arbitration (Laws No. 1876/1990, Νo. 3899/2010, Νo. 4046/2012, No 4303/2014): The mechanism takes place under the authority of the Organisation of Mediation and Arbitration (OMED) and starts after the failure of the mediation process. Arbitration is conducted by an independent person (arbitrator) or by an Arbitrators’ Committee. Under the existing legislative framework, it can be conducted only through common agreement of the parties (employers and trade unions). The decision is as binding as the collective agreement.

Individual dispute resolution mechanisms

Individual dispute resolution mechanisms in Greece are as follows.

  • Conciliation (Law No. 3996/2011): The mechanism takes place under the authority of the Labour Inspectorate to solve any issue causing controversy or disagreement in the employment relationship between an employer and an employee or a group of employees. It has a voluntary character and the trade union representatives can take part in the process. At the end of the conciliation process, the conciliator can make suggestions and the problem is recorded in minutes, stating if there is agreement or disagreement of the parties.
  • Labour Dispute Resolution (Law No. 3996/2011): The mechanism takes place under the authority of the Labour Inspectorate. A labour dispute is considered to be any type of disagreement between an employee or group of employees and the employer arising from the employment relationship about the implementation and enforcement of labour law provisions. In order to resolve labour disputes, the employer and the relevant trade unions have the right to request the intervention of the Inspector of Labour Relations. During the discussion of labour disputes, the parties can be represented in person or by a legal representative or other authorised person. After the discussion, the problem is recorded in minutes, signed by the parties with the Inspector of Labour Relations, who is required to express opinion on the dispute. At the same time, the Inspector of Labour Relations may impose any of the administrative penalties provided by the Law after providing written explanations. If violations of labour law are criminal offences, the Inspector of Labour Relations can sue or make a complaint report to the competent prosecutor.

Use of dispute resolution mechanisms








Individual disputes














Called-off, canceled








Brought to courts








Source: SEPE, Annual Report 2013 and data for 2014-2017

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations are the relationship between the individual worker and their employer. This relationship is shaped by legal regulation and by the outcomes of social partner negotiations over the terms and conditions governing the employment relationship. This section looks into the start and termination of the employment relationship and entitlements and obligations in Greece.

Start and termination of the employment relationship

Requirements regarding an employment contract

The formal requirements to enter in an employment relationship are a written job contract between the employer and the employee; an obligation by the employer to submit details of the contract to the electronic database of the Ministry of Labour (ERGANI); and the recruitment of the employee within the day of hiring. The minimum working age is 15.

Dismissal and termination procedures

In fixed-term job contracts, the termination of the employment relationship is automatic when the employment period is finished. The employer is not required to give written notice to the employee and no compensation is given.

In indefinite job contacts, the employment relation is terminated after renouncement of the job contract by the employer or by the employee; after the death of the employer (under restrictions) or the employee; or after common agreement between employer and employee, usually for retirement.

The termination of the job contract by the employer (dismissal) can be done either with a notification period determined by years of employment (where the employee takes 50% of the compensation amount) or without notification (where the employee takes the full amount of compensation). In this case a written dismissal notice is required together with the instalment of the compensation.

The following are the recent changes in the unemployment benefit regime, introduced by Laws 4144/2013 and 4203/2013 implemented from 1/1/2014:

a) the daily unemployment benefits granted during a period of 4 years cannot exceed 400 days.

b) beneficiaries stop receiving unemployment benefits when participating in vocational training programmes. If the amount of their daily training allowance is larger than the daily unemployment benefit, the latter will not be paid for the duration of the training.

c) for long-term unemployed persons (20–66 years old), when the period of receiving the regular unemployment benefit ends and they have a yearly family income less than €10.000 (plus €586 for each child), then they are entitled to a special long-term unemployment benefit. The amount is €200 per month for a 12-month duration. d) concerning benefits for seasonal workers, the law specifies that the company should operate 2–9 months per year. In the case that a company operates the whole year, then as criterion of seasonability is considered the employment of 25% or less of the personnel, as this is compared to the peak season operation period.

e) in the Administrative Board of OAED, one (1) representative from SETE participates as an equal social partner. Therefore, the total number of employers’ representatives in OAED is five (5).

f) within OAED, a new Consolidated Fund is being established for implementing social policies (ELEKP), funded by the social security fees of the social partners. This Fund actually incorporates the two previous existing Funds for social policy and vocational training. According to law 4203/2013, as regards the granting of unemployment benefits for persons working in companies that operate seasonally, the period of receiving the benefit is for 80 days (3 months and 5 days) and on the condition they have been employed in the last 12 months for 100 days or in the last 14 months for 149 days. Also, according to Law 3986/2011 and Law 4144/2013, unemployment benefit is provided under specific conditions and for a period of 3–9 months for professionals/self-employed, who close their businesses.

In 2017, a new regulation (Law 4488, Article 51) provides for an employee’s right to receive unemployment benefit after they have denounced their employer to the courts for unilateral changes of their working conditions (which is regarded as equivalent to dismissal). This is granted only after the employee has appealed to the court and this has been properly notified to the employer as well as the OAED, together with the claim for the unemployment benefit.

Entitlements and obligations

Parental, maternity and paternity leave

In Greece, in the private sector, there are provisions for maternity leave, paternity leave, childcare leave and parental leave.

Maternity leave (basic): A total of 17 weeks (eight weeks before childbirth and nine weeks afterwards), with the salary being paid for 15 days where the employee has worked for one year and for one month where she has worked for more than one year.

Maternity leave (special): six months, granted after maternity leave and before the beginning of the use of the childcare leave.

Paternity Leave: two days paid leave at the time of the child’s birth, paid by the employer. Parental Leave: four months per child for each parent until the child becomes 6 years old. The leave is without payment.

Childcare Leave: A parent can take time-off work with full payment, up to an estimated period of between three and three-and-a-half months, either working fewer hours per day or taking all the leave at once.

Statutory leave arrangements

Maternity leave

Maximum duration

Basic which is implemented for all women: Duration 17 weeks (or 119 days). Eight weeks (56 days) before childbirth and nine weeks (63 days) after childbirth.

Special which is supplementary and it is provided after request of employee: Duration six months


Basic: Total wage earnings.

Special: national minimum wage.

Who pays?

Basic: Part of the wage is paid by the employer. An allowance is given by the Social Security Fund (IKA) and additional benefits from the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

Special: Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

Legal basis

Basic: PD 176/1997, (modified by PD 41/2003) implementing Directive 92/85/EEC.

Special: Law No. 3655/2008 (article 142).

Parental leave

Maximum duration

Four months up to the sixth year of the child. Given to both parents under a private law job contract It is an individual right of each parent and cannot be transferred to another person.


No payment.

Who pays?


Legal basis

Law no 4075/2012 (article 50),implementing EU Directive 2010/18/EC

Paternity leave

Maximum duration

Two days for each birth.


Full wage.

Who pays?

The employer.

Legal basis

Law No. 1483/1984

Sick leave

The employee can claim half pay for the first three days of sickness and full pay for 15 days for the first year in employment or 30 days for any year thereafter, less the amount which the employee received from his social security provider.

Minimum length of absence

Length of service

Length of absence

Up to four years

1 month

Up to 10 years

3 months

Up to 15 years

4 months

Over 15 years

6 months

Retirement age

In general, there is a distinction in retirement provisions between old (before 1993) and new social insured employees. According to the Law 3863/2010 and after a transitional period, from 1 January
2013 onwards, new requirements for retirement have been established.

The general rule is that the minimum requirements for retirement with full pension amount are: 67 years of age both for men and women, and at least 15 years of work; or 62 years of age and 40 years of work both for men and women.

For reduced pension amount the retirement age is 62 years both for women and men. There are various exemptions from this rule for some professional categories and for persons with disabilities.

More recently, the  Laws  4336/2015 and 4387/2016 and the related ministry circulars for their application stipulate that from 1 January 2022, the general age limits for full and reduced pensions will apply to all, namely:

a) 67 years for a full pension with 20 years of social security payment (6.000 work days);
b) 62 years for a full pension if 40 years of payment of social security have been completed and c) 62 years for a partial pension.

However, pension rights established up to 18 August 2015 are not affected and can be exercised at any time. The regulations exempt workers in heavy and arduous professions and workers who retire as blind insured persons, as well as insured persons who are mothers or widowed fathers of disabled offspring who are not capable of work.

Also, in May 2016, Law No 4387/2016 introduced an extensive reform of the social security and pension system. The new legislation establishes a unique Social Security Fund for all (EFKA), establishes the ‘National Pension’ of €384 at the age of 67, increases the social contributions for employers, employees and the self-employed, introduces a new calculating method and reduces the amounts of the basic and supplementary pensions



Pay: For workers, the reward for work and main source of income; for employers, a cost of production and focus of bargaining and legislation. This section looks into minimum wage setting in Greece and guides the reader to further material on collective wage bargaining.

Average monthly wages in 2012 and 2017 are shown in the table below.

Average monthly wage per worker (2012 and 2017)*


2012 (2nd quarter)

2012 (2nd quarter)

2012 (2nd quarter)

2017 (2nd quarter)

2017 (2nd quarter)

2017 (2nd quarter)








Full economy (private and public sector)







Private sector (including broader public sector)







Full time employment (private sector)








Agriculture, forestry and fishing








Mining and quarrying
















Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply








Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
















Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles








Transportation and storage








Accommodation and food service activities








Information and communication








Financial and insurance activities








Real estate activities








Professional, scientific and technical activities








Administrative and support service activities








Public administration and defence; compulsory social security
















Human health and social work activities








Arts, entertainment and recreation








Other service activities








Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use








Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies







Source: ELSTAT, Labour Force Survey 2012, 2017 (second quarter)

Processing: INE GSEE (George Kritikidis)

* All the NACE codes refer to the private sector except NACE O.

Minimum wages

Until 2010, the national minimum wage was determined through national collective bargaining, while from 2013 (Law 4177/2913), it has been set by the government unilaterally through a consultation mechanism with social partners and other experts.

With Law 4046/2012 and Law 4093/2012, the government for the first time since 1990 intervened in free collective bargaining and the formation of the national minimum wages through the General National Collective Agreement (EGSSE). These laws introduced a decrease of 22% (and 32% for workers under 25 years old) to the 2012 national minimum wage (€751.40). The new national minimum wages, applying from December 2012, were set at €586.08 and €510.95 for employees under 25 years old. This reduction continues to apply.

The 2017 annual report from the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE GSEE) notes:

During the recent economic crisis, employees paid with the minimum wage in various EU countries have suffered losses in real terms due to a slowdown in nominal increases and a failure to keep pace with rising prices, and/or the freezing of minimum wages. However, no EU country apart from Greece – including those in an economic adjustment programme – has made a nominal reduction in the minimum wage during the crisis. Greece is the only EU country in which, under the second Memorandum, an unprecedentedly large 22% nominal reduction of the minimum wage (32% for young people under 25) was imposed in 2012, since when the minimum wage has remained frozen at the same level.

Subsequent legislation (Law No. 4172/2013) established a new mechanism for setting the national minimum wages. From 1 January 2017, the minimum wage would be set by a final decision of the Ministry of Labour, after consultation with the national social partners. The consultation period starts at the beginning of each year and the final ministerial decision is issued at the end of June. This mechanism hasn’t been activated yet.

Minimum wages







Adult rate

€586.08 for 14 months

€586.08 for 14 months

€586.08 for 14 months

€586.08 for 14 months

€586.08 for 14 months

Youth rate

(under 25 years)

€510.95 for 14 months

€510.95 for 14 months

€510.95 for 14 months

€510.95 for 14 months

€510.95 for 14 months

For more information regarding the level and development of minimum wages, please see:

Collectively agreed pay outcomes

For more detailed information on the most recent outcomes in terms of collectively agreed pay, please see:

Working time

Working time

Working time: ‘Any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’ (Directive 2003/88/EC). This section briefly summarises regulation and issues regarding working time, overtime, part-time work as well as working time flexibility in Greece.

Working time regulation

Since 1975, working time had been reduced gradually from 48 to 40 hours per week.

The EGSSE of 1984 (which was ratified by law) definitively established 40 hours as the maximum legal weekly working time without a reduction of the workers’ wages.

The law also permitted agreements on fewer working hours through collective agreements at the sectoral or company level and some sectoral agreements brought in a shorter working time. Bank employees, for example, have a contractual working time of 37 hours per week, and the employees of private-sector insurance companies work 39 hours per week (37 if the insurance company is the subsidiary of a bank).

Nevertheless, the general rule still is the working time of 40 hours per week, but there also the possibility for a company to implement a (collective) working time arrangement under Law No. 3986/2011 (see below). Also, special legislative provisions apply to undertakings which operate using shifts.

For more detailed information on working time (including annual leave, statutory and collectively agreed working time), please consult:

Overtime regulation

Law No. 3863/10: Work between 41 and 45 hours a week is called ‘extra work’ and is not taken into account in the limits specified for permissible overtime. Work exceeding nine hours a day and/or 45 hours a week is called overtime. The extra work is compensated with 20% increase of the hourly wage.

Overtime within the limits specified by law is lawful overtime, but the limit depends on the sector of employment (industry, retail outlets, offices). A notice of overtime work must be sent to the authority either before or after the overtime takes place, depending on whether it is urgent or not, and must be entered in the Overtime Register. Overtime exceeding the lawful limit or for which the aforementioned procedures are not complied with is unlawful overtime. The overtime work is compensated with a 40% increase in the usual hourly pay and with 60% when overtime exceeds 120 hours annually. Undeclared (unlawful) overtime is compensated with an 80% increase in the hourly wage.

Part-time work

In recent years, part-time work has been on the rise, and female employees have been the main contributors to the increase. Part-time work was initially introduced in 1990 (Law 1892/1990), and in 1998 (Law No. 2639/1998), it was also introduced to the public services.

The latest legislation (Law 3846/2010) defines part-time work as employment shorter than the normal working time on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, in other words, fewer hours than the normal working time. The normal working time is based on a comparable full-time employee in the same undertaking. The agreement reached between an employer and employee, whether at the outset of employment or at a subsequent point in time, must be in writing. The written form is constitutive of the part-time work contract (and failure to comply with this formality will render the contract invalid). Moreover, the part-time work contract must be notified to the local labour inspectorate offices within eight days, otherwise it will be presumed to be concealing a full-time employment contract.

Part-time employment is more common among women than among men. The proportion of women’s part-time work is higher by 5%–7% than that of men (ELSTAT Labour Force Survey 1981–2015). Nevertheless, the same survey found that from 2009 to 2015, the main reason (for about 70% of respondents) for working part time for both sexes was the difficulty of finding full-time work. Also, as women face higher unemployment and have greater difficulty finding work because they have multiple roles and responsibilities (work–family), part-time work – although not their first choice – gives them an opportunity to access the labour market.

Data from the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) 2017 found that the percentage of workers employed part time in Greece is about half of the EU average for the same period. Although part-time employment for both women and men increased in Greece in the last five years, it remains below the EU average.

Persons employed part time in Greece and EU28 (% of total employment)








Total (EU28)







Total (Greece)







Women (EU28)







Women (Greece)







Men (EU28)







Men (Greece)







Source: Eurostat, EU-LFS [lfsi_pt_a] – Persons employed part-time (20 to 64 years of age) – total and by sex.

Involuntary part time

Involuntary part-time workers are defined as people who work part time because they could not find a full-time job.

Persons employed in involuntary part-time work in Greece and EU28 (% of total part-time employment)








Total (EU28)







Total (Greece)







Women (EU28)







Women (Greece)







Men (EU28)







Men (Greece)







Source: Eurostat, EU-LFS [lfsa_eppgai]- involuntary part-time employment as a percentage of the total part-time employment, by sex and age (20 to 64 years of age)

In Greece, the rate of the involuntary part time work is considerably higher than in the EU as a whole. The rates are very high for both sexes and throughout the period 2012–2017. Also, the figures show a remarkable increase within this period and indicate that part-time work is mainly a forced choice, due to high unemployment and lack of opportunities for full-time employment. Another factor for the high rate of involuntary part-time work is the low level of the minimum wage.

Night work

Night work is work from 22.00 until 06.00. All or part of the work may be performed at night for the corresponding pay, e.g. for work from 18.00 until 02.00, four hours – from 18.00 to 22.00 – is considered as day work, while the other four – from 22.00 to 02.00 – constitute night work.

Night work is paid at the standard daily wage rate, with a 25% increase in the hourly wage.

If an employee works overtime at night, then the overtime increase is calculated according to the hourly rate, which has previously been increased by 25% for night work. The same calculation is made in the case of night work on a Sunday. More favourable provisions or regulations or agreement minutes etc. prevail (Presidential Degree No 88/1999).

Shift work

Shift work means any method of organising work in shifts whereby workers succeed each other at the same work stations according to a certain pattern, including a rotating pattern, and which may or may not be continuous, entailing the need for workers to work at different times over a given period of days or weeks.

Enterprises or undertakings which by their nature operate continuously and non-continuously may operate continuously in whole or in part, with an operating system of four alternating work teams. The employee’s consent is required for them to work in a system of four alternating work teams.

The remuneration of employees in these companies for Saturday and Sunday, working in two alternating shifts for 12 hours a day, including overtime, night work, Sundays and days off, may not be less than the remuneration for 40 hours, and their social security is for six days a week. (Law 1892/1990 and Presidential Degree No 88/1999).

Weekend work

By law, the week has six working days where a five-day working week does not already apply. The seventh day, usually Sunday, is a mandatory weekly day of rest. Weekly rest is a right of the employee and an obligation of the employer. Employees who legally employed on a Sunday are paid the legal daily wage or 1/25 of the monthly salary plus 75% of the statutory hourly rate.

In the case of Sunday overtime, remuneration is calculated on the basis of the daily Sunday wage, i.e. increased by 75%. Sunday night work is calculated in the same way. In the case of night overtime, wages increased by 75% for Sunday working will then be increased by 25% for night work, after which overtime will be calculated.

In some enterprises, which are defined by law, work is permitted on a Sunday. In this case, an alternative day of rest must be given to the employee in the next week. If more than five hours are worked on a Sunday, a full alternative day off must be granted. If fewer than five hours are worked, a corresponding number of hours of rest must be granted.

Work performed on a Saturday in violation of the five-day system of work, regardless of penalties, shall be remunerated with the daily wage increased by 30%. If the total weekly employment exceeds 40 hours but not 45 hours (or 48 for a six-day week), the employee will receive extra pay for extra time, but if it exceeds 45 hours a week they will receive extra pay for overtime.

Rest and breaks

Law 4093/2012 (Article 14, sub-paragraph XI), which replaced Article 3 of Presidential Decree 88/1999, establishes a minimum daily rest of eleven (11) consecutive hours for each period of twenty-four (24) hours, instead of twelve (12) hours under the previous arrangement. This period of twenty-four (24) hours begins at 00.01 and ends at 24.00.

The minimum daily rest expressly laid down in Directive 93/104/EC (now 2003/88/EC) applies to cases of shifts as laid down as a working system in Presidential Decree 88/1999. Therefore, a worker employed in a shift system should have a daily rest of 11 consecutive hours between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next, unlimited by the period of twenty-four (24) hours that begins at 00.01 and ends at 24.00.

Working time flexibility

According to Law 3986/2011 on the annual flexible working time arrangement, the period of permitting the extension of the daily working hours was extended to six months.

Employees are permitted to work up to two hours extra per day for six months (previously it was four months) within the reference year. The working hours must not exceed 48 hours per week. Additional hours are removed from the working hours of another period or provided as a day off.

Alternatively, the law allows the allocation of up to 256 hours within one year at a period of 32 weeks and a corresponding reduced number of hours during the rest of the year.

The organisation of working time arrangement, according to Law 3986/2011, can only be determined through company-based or sectoral collective agreement with the union(s) or the works council (if one exists). Finally, and depending on the particularities of a sector or a company, there is the possibility to determine through collective agreement an alternative working time system independently of those defined by law.

Also, according to Law No. 4093/12, the minimum hours of rest per day has been defined as 11 hours (previously 12 hours).

Do you have fixed start and finishing time in your work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Greece and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have fixed starting and finishing times in your work?'. For the 'No' answer, Greece's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. Data is based on question 39d from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015). The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

Health and well-being

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be a high priority for workers and employers alike. Health is an asset closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. A healthy economy depends on a healthy workforce: organisations can experience loss of productivity through the ill-health of their workers. This section looks into psychosocial risks and health and safety in Greece.

Health and safety at work

The latest Eurostat statistics show a slight decrease in the total number of accidents in 2012 as compared to 2011, and a slight increase in the number of accidents per 1,000 employees.

Also according to the 2013 annual report of SEPE, the declared accidents for the years 2011–2013 were: 2011, 5,203 accidents, of which 70 fatal occupational accidents and 31 fatal accidents for pathological causes; 2012, 4,858 accidents, of which 64 were fatal occupational accidents and 19 fatal accidents for pathological causes; 2013, 5,126 accidents, of which 67 were fatal occupational accidents and 25 fatal accidents for pathological causes.

For the recent years, according to data from SEPE, the situation is the following:

  • 2014: 5,497 accidents, of which 63 were fatal occupational accidents and 25 fatal accidents for pathological causes
  • 2015, 5,930 accidents, of which 67 were fatal occupational accidents and 33 fatal accidents for pathological causes
  • 2016, 6,515 accidents, of which 73 were fatal occupational accidents and 39 fatal accidents for pathological causes.

Data on accidents at work up to 2013 are available. According to the annual reports of IKA, it has been estimated that the number of accidents has remained stable between 2011 and 2013 at 3 accidents for every 1,000 workers. During the same period, there was an annual drop in the number of accidents.

Accidents per 1,000 employees and % change from previous year







Percent change on previous year






Per 1,000 employees






Source: IKA-ETAM, Accidents at work report for the years 2011, 2012, 2013

Accidents at work, with four days’ absence or more – working days lost

  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

All accidents








Percentage change on previous year








Per 1,000 employees








Source: Eurostat, [hsw_mi01] and [lfsa_eegaed]

Psychosocial risks

Addressing psychological risks at workplaces is a part of the national legislation on health and safety. Law No. 3850/2010, which codifies the responsibilities of employers as well as other relevant regulations (Presidential Decree 159/99), tackles the issue of psychological risks. The employer has the obligation to conduct a written risk assessment at the workplace. The risk assessment plan has to also refer to the risks arising from the work organisation. These risks may be caused by: work organisation (intensification, monotony, shift work); psychological factors (atypical work, mobbing); ergonomic factors (non-ergonomic workstation); difficult working conditions (work with unsuitable equipment, work in adverse climatic conditions). The Risk Assessment also serves as a self-control tool for the employer, and the health and safety committees have the right to be informed on the assessment and this can be a part of the dialogue on keeping health and safety rules at the workplace.

According to the Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey, Greece presents high levels of work intensity during recent decades as well as increased levels of long working hours, but on the other side, discrimination at work seems to be a minor problem.

Work intensity: Do you have enough time to get the job done?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Greece and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have enough time to get the job done?'. For the 'Always or most of the time' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Rarely or never' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Sometimes' answer, Greece's score is higher than the European Union score. Data is based on question 61g from the sixth European Working Conditions Survey (2015). The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

Skills, learning and employability

Skills, learning and employability

Skills are the passport to employment; the better skilled an individual, the more employable they are. Good skills also tend to secure better-quality jobs and better earnings. This section briefly summarises the Greek system for ensuring skills and employability and looks into the extent of training.

National system for ensuring skills and employability

Law No. 3879/2010 refers to the system of lifelong learning in Greece, its development, the supervising authorities and the functioning of the training providers. The law has established a National Council of Lifelong Learning and Employment, which is multipartite body in which the national social partners are represented. In this context an annual national conference on promoting lifelong learning and connecting it with the employment is organised.

The legislation also refers to the organisation and development of the National Framework of Skills and the certification of skills and qualification, according to the European guidelines.

The National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) is the public institution body responsible for lifelong learning and skills identification in Greece.

EOPPEP develops and implements comprehensive national systems for the accreditation of non-formal and informal learning. It provides scientific and technical support in designing and implementing the vocational guidance national policy, as well as the provision of such services in Greece.

EOPPEP’s mission is to supervise and ensure quality standards and procedures in:

  • inputs: accredited Providers implementing VET programs, developed upon accredited standards and specifications, based on accredited occupational profiles, employing accredited Trainers for Adults, with the aid of accredited Support Services Professionals for social vulnerable groups;
  • outputs-learning outcomes: accredited knowledge, skills and competences acquired via non-formal and informal learning pathways and certification of qualifications;
  • vocational guidance and counseling services: viable services and tools for supporting citizens of every age, as well as educational information tools according to the latest ICT applications.


Vocational Training in Greece is provided by private institutions, including those of the social partners and supervised by the EOPPEP (Ministry of Education). Programmes of Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) are directed both to unemployed and the employed. As concerns the unemployed, the trend during the last years is that the training takes place at the company level (on-the-job training).

As concerns the public institutions, the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) is active in the field of primary vocational training (taking place after secondary school level up to the age of 18) and operates 29 Institutes of vocational Training (IEK), providing education in 18 professions, certified to Level 4 of EQF.

Also, OAED is the public institution responsible for the Apprenticeship system and runs 51 apprenticeship schools, providing two-year training programmes within a series of technical professions. The apprenticeship system is directed to young people aged 16–23 years who are graduates of at least Class A of the Lyceum.

Training: Have you had any on the job training in the past year?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Greece and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Have you had on-the-job training in the last 12 months?'. For the 'No' answer, Greece's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. Data is based on question 65c from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015). The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

Work organisation

Work organisation

Work organisation underpins economic and business development and has important consequences for productivity, innovation and working conditions. Eurofound research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Therefore, developing or introducing different forms of work organisation are of particular interest because of the expected effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of companies, as well as on workers’ working conditions. Ongoing research by Eurofound, based on EurWORK, the European Working Conditions Survey and the European Company Survey, monitors developments in work organisation.

More information on:

Working conditions in the European Union: Work organisation

For Greece, the European Company Survey 2013 shows that between 2010 and 2013, 45.8%% of establishments with 10 or more employees reported changes in the use of technology, 57.3% introduced changes in ways to coordinate and allocate the work to workers and another 37.8% saw changes in their working time arrangements.

There are no official national data regarding work organisation. SEV (2012) conducted a study, entitled ‘Study of the Greek business strategy to develop practical operational flexibility and organisational innovation ‘ and produced an a manual with ‘Strategy proposals Strategy on the development of practices for flexible organisation’. The project examines 22 thematic issues and records the most widespread best practices regarding businesses’ operational flexibility and organisational innovation in companies used in the Greek market.

An important research (2011 and 2013) into 2,000 larger companies, entitled ‘Surveying businesses how to anticipate changes in regional production systems and local labour markets ’, was supervised by SEV and conducted by IOVE (Foundation for Economic and Industrial research) together with NTUA (The National Technical University). It showed that: almost 50% of large companies produced innovative products in the last two years; 30% of the companies introduced innovation processes mainly in the areas of production methods (70%) and the use of ICT (50%); 38% of the businesses developed organisational innovation mainly in selling methods (70%) and methods of work organisation (56%).

According to the survey results as concerns the innovation in work organization it was reported that in 2013 only 25% of enterprises had innovation in work organization, while in 2011 the figure was 26.4%. The data shows that the crisis is even more difficult for enterprises trying to innovate. As regards the development of policies of human resources, the companies in their majority still maintain staff training programs, however they have limited institutionalized human resources evaluation and development processes as well as the connecting wages with productivity amid the crisis. Specifically in 2013 the 71.4% of companies implement educational programmes (75.2% in 2011). Also 51.85% of the companies apply human resources evaluation and development processes (in 2011 the rate was 51.9%). Also 38.3% of the enterprises have a wage policy connected to productivity rates, while in 2011 the rate was 50.4%.

Other important findings are:

  • company size largely determines the innovative performance, education, etc.;
  • properly trained staff is directly related to positive performance in the full range of business functions;
  • companies that highly invest in training are less exposed to the characteristics of the crisis such as liquidity problems;
  • almost one in three companies implementing all types of training programs have an organised R & D department.

The ELSTAT survey gathers data on work organisation and working time. Its main objectives are to assess the extent to which employees have the ability to determine their working time, work under time pressure, and are obliged to work beyond their normal working hours. It also explores the ability of employees to influence the content and the order of their work.

The survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2015 among employed people aged 15 years or over, and the response rate was 95.4%. The main findings of the survey are as follows:

  • The self-employed have more flexibility in organising their work, but they are also the workers most often forced to change or lengthen their working hours.
  • Time pressure is common among all employees, but more so for wage earners and the self-employed.
  • Flexibility in the regulation of working time and the organisation of work differ depending on the demographic and professional profile of employees.
  • The self-employed and older people have more flexibility to be absent in exceptional circumstances and have greater autonomy in the design and execution their work. The opposite is the case with workers in elementary occupations and in companies with over 10 employees, as well as with younger workers and immigrants. These workers also work more often under time pressure.
  • Working hours are recorded for about seven out of ten employees; the practice of manual recording by the supervisor or colleague is more widespread.

For more information on ELSTAT, see ‘Special survey on the organisation of work and the setting of the working time – Ad hoc module 2015’ (November 2016).

Work organisation: Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Greece and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?'. For the 'No' answer, Greece's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Greece's score is lower than the European Union score. Data is based on question 54b from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015). The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality and non-discrimination at work

The principle of equal treatment requires that all people and, in the context of the workplace, all workers have the right to receive the same treatment, and will not be discriminated against on the basis of criteria such as age, sex, disability, nationality, race and religion.

According to Law No. 3304/2005 on equal treatment in employment as well as the Civil Code, the employer has an obligation to treat all employees without discrimination, except where the nature of job objectively justifies it. The principle of equal treatment regards both wages and working conditions (promotion systems, working hours, compensation due to retirement) and should also apply to employers’ voluntary benefits.

As for combating discrimination based on sex, the following legislation is in force: Law No. 3769/2009 on equal access to goods and services; Law No. 3896/2010 on implementing the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment between men and women at the workplace; Law No. 4097/2012 on equal treatment between men and women in exercising self-employed activities.

The Labour Inspectorate’s annual reports for 2009–2013 and data for 2013-2014 show the evolution of the violations on equal treatment (including pay) and especially the violation of maternity rights.

The following table shows that there has been an increase in complaints and individual disputes concerning equal treatment, a trend that coincides with the economic crisis and the consequent violations of labour law.

Complaints about discrimination 2009–2013


Number of complaints

Individual disputes

2016                                                                             91                                                                      91






















Source: Labour Inspectorate, 2016.

Furthermore, the Greek Ombudsman’s annual special report (2013) on ‘Gender and labour relations’ shows that the cases/complaints regarding equal treatment increased by 25% during 2013. Although in total numbers are limited (327 cases), the economic crisis and unemployment appears to have had a serious impact on equal treatment in employment, especially in the field of maternity and paternity rights.

Equal pay and gender pay gap

Law No 3896/2010 on equal treatment also deals with equal payment.

The Labour Inspectorate is the main mechanism for supervision of labour relations but the Greek Ombudsman plays a key role as an independent authority by investigating complaints, mediating and making recommendations to implement equal pay.

The Labour Inspectorate collaborates with the Ombudsman and also has the authority to impose administrative sanctions or take legal action against criminal infringements.

In collective agreements there are no clauses for different wage treatment and the principle of equal pay is respected. Nevertheless in practice women are paid less (15%) than men, as the relevant Eurostat data show for 2010.

There is no relevant study or survey in Greece examining the gender pay gap.

Quota regulations

There is no legal obligation for specific quotas for women or other categories.

According to Law 2643/98, disabled people, families with many children and some other protected categories should be hired by the civil service, public entities and local authorities up to 5% of recruitment. The beneficiaries must have a disability of 50% or more, be registered as disabled unemployed in OAED, and not in receipt of a state pension or any allowance cumulatively greater than the minimum old age pension limit.



Elinyae (2016), OSH worker participation in Greece Final Report (June 2016).

Eurostat, Unemployment statistics, webpage, accessed 30 October 2015.

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2015), Safer and healthier Work at any age, Country Inventory: Greece.

ELSTAT, (2016), ‘Special Research for the organisation of work and the regulation of Working Time – Ad hoc Module 2015’, accessed in 30 January 2017

Greek Ombudsman (2011), Equal treatment of men and women in employment and labour relations, Athens.

INE GSEE (2016), Annual report on the Greek economy and employment 2015, Athens.

INE GSEE (2015), Annual report on the Greek economy and< employment 2014, Athens.

INE GSEE (2014), Annual report on industrial relations in Europe and Greece, Athens.

INE GSEE (2014), Annual report of strike action taken in Greece since 2011, Athens.

INE GSEE (2014), Evolutions on Collective Bargaining and Pay during 2013, Athens

INE GSEE (2015), Evolutions on Collective Bargaining during 2014, Athens (unpublished)

INE GSEE (2014), Organisational structure of the Greek trade union movement 2013, Athens (unpublished)

Katsoridas, D. (2016), ‘Strikes and work’, ENIMEROSI INE GSEE, 231 September-October.

Lanaras Κ., 2014, Legislation of work and insurance Νομοθεσία Εργατική και Ασφαλιστική, Athens, Sakkoulas Editions

Ministry of Labour, Reports of ERGANI ARTEMIS (2013-2016), Athens

SEPE, Annual Report 2013, Athens.

Tsonou, V. (2015), ‘Issues of social insurance’, INE GSEE, December 2015,accessed in 30 January 2017

Vergou, S. Stamati, A. Siriopoulos, P. (2013), Working time, INEGSEE, accessed in 30 January 2017.

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