EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Cyprus: Young people and temporary employment in Europe

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 08 December 2013



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Temporary employment and the related public discussion in Cyprus seem to focus on three sectors/types of employment: employment of third-countries nationals in household activities, employment in the public and private education system and to a smaller degree, bogus self-employment. Temporary employment is also used as an employability enhancing tool through various public subsidy schemes aiming at the recruitment and training of young and unemployed individuals. Despite the fact that public discussion and research on temporary employment has been relatively limited to date, this issue could potentially evolve into an matter of higher concern due to the impact of the crisis on traditional employment patterns.

Questionnaire

1. Importance of temporary employment for young people

1.1. Do the figures shown in the attached tables (on the number of temporary employed as a % of total employees based on Eurostat LFS data) give a reliable indication of the scale of temporary employment among the young in your country and the way that it has changed over recent years? Are there young people employed in temporary jobs who do not show up in the Eurostat figures? Are there national statistics which show a different picture from the Eurostat data? If so, please indicate what they show and give the source of the data.

An elementary analysis of the available statistical figures provides some useful information on the various features of temporary employment in Cyprus. This preliminary task can be of great interest in order to better interpret qualitative information concerning regulations, policies and views of social partners for temporary employment.

Table 1: Employment by age group (2011)

Age Group

Number

15-19

2.620

20-24

28.775

25-29

57.872

30-34

57.067

Total 15-29

89.267

Source: CYSTAT

To begin with (Table 1), it should be noted that the bulk of youth employment (15 to 29) is situated in the age group 25 to 29, which represents 65% of all young employees. The second age group (20-24) is representing one third approximately of youth employment while only 3% of young employees belong to the age group 15 to 19.

Table 2: Temporary employment by age group (2011)

Age Group

Number of temporary employees

Total number of employees

Temporary employees as a share of total employees

15-24

4.997

31.395

15,9%

25-34

19.011

114.939

16,5%

Total 15-34

24.008

146.334

16,4%

35-44

13.199

99.399

13,3%

45-54

6.407

88.929

7,2%

55-64

2.325

51.664

4,5%

65+

276

11.888

2,3%

Total 15 – 65+

46.216

398.214

11,6%

Source: CYSTAT

Table 2 indicates that figures provided for the year 2011 by the Labour Force Survey are approximately in line with the figures provided by Eurostat. Figures showed in Table 2 seem to confirm that temporary employment is more developed in youngest age groups (15 up to 34 year old employees). It should be noted that temporary employment of youth in Cyprus is rather limited comparing to the EU average, especially for the age group 15-24.

As shown in Table 3, temporary employment is much more common in Cyprus among the female workforce. This observation is even more valid for the age group 25 to 34, where female temporary employees are almost three times more numerous than male temporary employees. As far as the education level is concerned, the following observations can be made:

  • No differentiation between the different education levels can be observed as regards the male age group 15 to 24. All education levels participate to the same extent to temporary employment. This observation is not valid for the female age group 15 to 24. Indeed, persons with tertiary education are more present in temporary employment compared to the other two education levels (i.e. ‘less than upper secondary’ and ‘upper secondary’).
  • Distribution of temporary employees between the various education levels is rather different for the second age group (25-34). More precisely, the male age group 25 to 34 presents a very low number of temporary “less than upper secondary” employees whereas the number of employees of tertiary education is around five times more important. As far as the female population is concerned, temporary employees of tertiary education are likewise the most numerous education level although with a small distance from ‘less than secondary’ temporary employees.
Table 3: Temporary employment by age, education level and sex (2011)

Age group / education level

Total number of temporary employees

Male

Female

15-24

4.997

1.871

3.127

Less than upper secondary

1.431

597

834

Upper secondary

1.510

672

838

Tertiary

2.056

601

1.455

25-34

19.011

5.033

13.978

Less than upper secondary

5.595

540

5.055

Upper secondary

5.201

1.869

3.332

Tertiary

8.216

2.625

5.591

Total 15-34

24.008

6.904

17.105

Source: CYSTAT

As shown in Table 4, temporary employment (data for all age groups only available) is present in a wide number of economic sectors, including e.g. household activities (by far the most numerous category), education services, the tourist industry and many other sectors.

Table 4: Temporary employees by economic activity in 2011 (Nace rev. 2), 2011 (10 most important categories)

Economy activity

Number of temporary employees

Activities of households

22.124

Education

6.099

Accommodation and Foods Service Activities

3.717

Compulsory social security

3.185

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

1.705

Wholesale and Retail trade, Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles

1.336

Human Health and Social Work Activities

1.178

Arts, Entertainment and recreation

1.152

Professional, Scientific and Technical activities

1.101

Transportation and storage

932

Source: CYSTAT

Duration of employment is of crucial importance for temporary employees as it determines access to social benefits. According to table 7, less than 4% of temporary employees have a contract of less than 3 months while around 15% have a contract up to 6 months. It should be noted that more than one on two temporary employee has a temporary contract of more than three years.

Table 5: Temporary employees by duration of work contract (2011)

Duration of work contract

Number of employees

Less than 1 month

379

From 1 to 3 months

1.220

From 4 to 6 months

5.258

From 7 to 12 months

10.159

From 13 to 18 months

446

From 19 to 24 months

1.804

From 25 to 36 months

1.335

More than 3 years

25.615

Total

46.216

Source: CYSTAT

Observations:

Some general conclusions can be drawn concerning temporary employment on the basis of statistical figures:

  • Temporary employment is rather limited in Cyprus compared to other European countries, especially for the age group 15 to 24 (only 17,2% of employees have temporary jobs for this age group in comparison with 42,5% at the EU27 level for the year 2011). This difference is however less pronounced for the age group 25 to 29 as the percentage of temporary employees is 18,1% in Cyprus and 21,4% in the EU27.
  • Temporary employment is more common between young individuals but the percentage rate for older groups, such as the age group 35-44, is however quite close to youngest age groups (only 3% difference). The share of temporary employment as a percentage of total employment declines significantly only for the + 45 age groups.
  • The number of young temporary employees having completed tertiary education is high. This is particularly true for male temporary employees belonging to the age group 25-34 and for female employees belonging to the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups. This observation could be associated with the fact that the Cypriot economy does not create sufficient high-skilled jobs for university graduates (Cyprus National Reform Programme, 2012). Cyprus is indeed the third country in the world in terms of tertiary education graduates relative to its population.
  • Temporary employment of youth in Cyprus is primarily observed among the female population. Indeed, more than 70% of young temporary employees are women. Data combining sex, age and sector of activity of age groups are not publicly available. However, it should be noted that approximately one of two temporary employees is working in the sector of household activities where employment is dominated by female employment from third countries.
  • Except household activities, temporary employment is mainly found in the education sector (public and private) as well as in the tourist industry.
  • Last but not least, temporary employment has been chosen because of a lack of alternatives for the huge majority of temporary employees.

1.2. Is there any evidence that other forms of employment are used as a substitute for temporary contracts, such as bogus self-employment where young people are contracted to provide services to a single work provider in a continuous manner so acting de facto as employees? If so, please give the source of the evidence and indicate the scale of the phenomenon in terms of the number of people concerned.

Ôhe most common form of economically dependent work encountered in Cyprus is that of false or bogus self-employment (CY0702019I). This comprises all cases where a person works as a paid employee for an organisation despite being registered as self-employed. In most instances, this is done to conceal the individual’s actual employment status and in particular for tax and social insurance reasons. Still, no statistical data are available on the extent of the phenomenon. On the basis of individual cases, as lodged in the past with the Pancyprian Federation of Labour, in the form of personal complaints of bogus self-employment, a number of the recorded cases have referred to highly-skilled occupations, such as civil engineers, architects, teachers and journalists. According to more recent information communicated by officers of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, an upward trend concerning cases of bogus self-employment in Cyprus is empirically observed due to the crisis.

1.3. Please list (and give summary details, i.e. purpose and duration of the contract) the most common contract types or contractual arrangements under which young people are employed on a temporary basis (such as for traineeships, apprenticeships, probationary periods, replacement of workers on leave or projects of a fixed duration). What is the relative importance of each type of contract or arrangement in terms of the number of young people employed under them?

The main reason for opting for a temporary employment is the lack of other job opportunities. Training activities are the second reason while temporary employees who expressed other reasons (i.e. wishing a temporary job or being under probationary period) do not exceed 9% of the total number of temporary employees.

Table 6: Temporary employees by reason, Age group 15-24, 2011

Reason

Number of employees

Contract for training

715

Could not find a permanent job

3.870

Did not want a permanent job

295

Probationary period

118

Total

4.997

Source: CYSTAT

The same observations are valid for the age group 25-34. Almost 95% of employees mentioned that the reason for opting for a temporary job is a lack of permanent employment opportunities.

Table 7: Temporary employees by reason, Age group 25-34, 2011

Reason

Number of employees

Contract for training

552

Could not find a permanent job

17.975

Did not want a permanent job

205

Probationary period

279

Total

19.011

Source: CYSTAT

More than 6 on 10 temporary employees are found in two specific sectors (i.e. household activities and education).The most common temporary employment contracts mentioned in these sectors are:

  • Working contracts for third-countries nationals working in households activities. These individuals have a residence and working permit lasting up to 4 years.

Temporary contracts in the private education sector (usually from October to May) and in the public education sector, either for the replacement of employees on leave or either for young professors and teachers who are employed as non-permanent workers for a period up to 30 months (after which their contract becomes of indefinite duration). Based on the data of the Ministry of Education, 1164 temporary contracts have been approved for the school year 2012-2013 against 10.993 permanent jobs (civil servants). The number of temporary jobs have been declining during recent years, from 1483 during the school year 2010-2011 to 1211 jobs (2011-2012) and 1164 (2012-2013). 1.4. Please indicate the main reasons for the emergence and development of the different types of temporary contract which you have listed in response to question 1.3. To what extent are they linked to particular conditions in the labour market or employment protection legislation/regulation in your country? What is the main attraction of such contracts to employers? What effect has the crisis had on the use of such contracts?

Third-countries nationals and temporary employment

The growth of temporary employment during the decade 2000 seems to be associated with the increasing number of migrants employed as domestic workers. Figures of the Statistical Service of Cyprus demonstrate strong immigration flows into Cyprus from countries like Skri Lanka, India and Philippines (i.e. the countries from which originate mostly workers in household activities). On the other hand, a large number of emigrants to these countries are registered, suggesting thus the temporary character of this form of employment. The demand for domestic workers has been satisfied to a large extent by foreign labour. The proportion of foreign workers in total as domestic workers showed a significant increase over the last decade, from 60.1% in 1991 to 100% in 2000 (Michail and al, 2008). The sector of hotels and restaurants presents the second highest proportion of foreign workers in total, reaching about 35.8% in 2006, while the construction sector during the period 2003 to 2006 has the third highest percentage (16.8% in 2006). This is attributed to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union which led to a sharp increase in the influx of workers from other European countries. It should be noted however that there seems to be a decrease in the number of persons employed in household activities according to press articles and data from the Ministry of Interior. The decrease is attributed to the impact of the economic crisis, although the extremely low level of net wages in this specific sector of activity (only EUR 331 in 2013).

Temporary employment in the education system

The presence of a high number of temporary workers in education (13% of total temporary workers) is associated with specific features of the private and the public education sector:

  • A common arrangement in the private education sector (primary, secondary and tertiary) is to employ personnel on a temporary basis (from October to May). During the summer period, these individuals are receiving unemployment benefits and are hired again in autumn. This practice aims at lowering the wage cost for private education establishments.
  • In the public education sector, temporary employment is found in a “secondary” labour market. This secondary market is intended to provide flexibility for covering various needs (e.g. from fluctuations in the number of pupils, replacements of workers) and more generally for limiting the wage cost of the public sector (important differentiations as regards the generousness of various social benefits between on the one hand public servants and on the other hand employees with temporary contracts or contracts of indefinite duration). According to social partners, pressures are exerted on this secondary market due to austerity policies and measures.

1.5. To what extent are temporary contracts a ‘stepping stone’ to ‘permanent’ jobs (or those with standard contracts of employment of undefined duration)? Are apprentices and trainees typically taken on by the companies or other organisations concerned on standard permanent contracts once they complete their training? Has the situation changed over the crisis period? Please summarise any relevant studies which have been carried out in your country or other evidence at the national level which exists and give the reference to them.

Temporary contracts is not considered to be a stepping stone to permanent jobs for the bulk of temporary workers (who are employed in household activities) due to the limitations imposed by regulations ruling their residence in Cyprus (residence permit and employment contract up to 4 years). Temporary contracts have been leading to contracts of indefinite duration in the secondary labour market of public education due to existing regulations according to which all employees working for a total period of 30 or more months under a fixed-term contract of employment (regardless of the series of successive fixed-term contracts of employment) must be given a contract of an indefinite duration. The various subsidy schemes for hiring on a temporary basis unemployed individuals provided by the Ministry of Labour or through its agencies can be considered also as a tool for enhancing the prospect of a permanent contract for participants. It should be noted however that individuals participating in these schemes are not entitled to the provisions of regulations according to which temporary employment must be considered of indefinite duration after 30 months.

2. Access to social benefits

Labour legislation contains provision according to which either the protection of a worker or his right to certain benefits comes into force after a specific period after the beginning of the employment relationship. Overall, and according to figures on the duration of temporary contracts (Table 5), the vast majority of temporary workers seem to satisfy the eligibility conditions for the main social benefits.

2.1. Does entitlement of young people to (contributory) unemployment insurance benefits and (non-contributory) unemployment assistance (i.e. benefits, usually means-tested, which provide a minimum level of income) differ if they are employed on temporary contracts as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate briefly the differences in eligibility conditions and any differences between types of temporary contract (including those working as self-employed for a single employer). Have there been any changes over the period of the crisis?

Unemployment benefit is payable to employed persons between the ages of 16 and 63 for involuntary unemployment. Persons who do not satisfy the insurance conditions for the old-age pension at the age of 63 are entitled to draw benefit up to the required date, but in no case after the age of 65. Self-employed persons are not entitled to unemployment benefit. A claimant must satisfy the following insurance conditions:

  • have been insured for at least 26 weeks up to the date of unemployment;
  • have paid basic insurance up to the date of unemployment of not less than 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.50 insurance point); and
  • have paid and/or assimilated insurance over the relevant contribution year equal to at least 20 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.39 insurance point).

In order to re-qualify for a benefit (after exhaustion of the right), the person concerned must have paid contributions on earnings of at least 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0,50 insurance point) after the date of exhaustion. A period of 26 working weeks must also have elapsed from the date of exhaustion.

Changes over the period of the crisis:

A change has been introduced in 2010 for the Unemployment Benefit concerning a rise in the contribution rate of the insurable earnings of employed persons that is allocated into the Unemployment Account from 1% to 1.15% (CY1206019Q).

Termination of employment and entitlement to redundancy payment

Notice

The Termination of Employment legislation purpose is to protect employees in the case of termination of their employment. The Termination of Employment legislation covers all employees of the public and private sectors, including apprentices. An employer who intends to terminate the employment of his employee, after the period of at least 26 weeks, should give a minimum period of notice, depending on the employee's employment. The employer is not obliged to give a period of notice if the employment of the employee was on a probationary basis for a period that does not exceed 104 weeks. When the probationary period is higher than 26 weeks, the employer is not obliged to give notice to the employee, only if the probationary period was determined by a written agreement between the employer and the employee at the time of employment.

Compensation

An employee who is dismissed unlawfully by an employer, with whom he has been continuously employed for not less than 26 weeks, has a right to compensation payable by the employer. The amount of compensation up to the wages of one year are payable by the employer and any additional amount from the Redundancy Fund. An employee is not entitled to compensation from his employer, if his dismissal is due to:

- termination at the end of a fixed term contract

- if the employee reaches retirement age

- under any custom, law, collective agreement or other work arrangements.

In the case where the employment of an employee, who has been continuously employed for 104 weeks by the same employer, is terminated because of redundancy, he is entitled to redundancy payment from the Redundancy Fund. The period which is taken into consideration for the purpose of payment should not only be with the same employer but also continuous.

2.2. Does entitlement of young people to sickness benefits and maternity benefits differ if they are employed on temporary contracts as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate briefly the differences in eligibility conditions and any differences between types of temporary contract (including those working as self-employed for a single employer). Have there been any changes over the period of the crisis?

Sickness benefit is paid to employed and self-employed persons aged between 16 and 63 who are incapacitated for work. Persons who do not satisfy the insurance conditions for entitlement to old-age pension at 63 are entitled to a benefit up to the required date, but never after the age of 65. To satisfy the insurance conditions, a claimant must:

  • have been insured for at least 26 weeks and, up to the date of incapacity, have paid basic insurance of not less than 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.50 insurance point); and
  • have paid and/or assimilated insurance over the relevant contribution year equal to at least 20 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.39 insurance point).

To re-qualify for a benefit following exhaustion of entitlement, the insured must have paid contributions on earnings of not less than 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.50 insurance point) after the date of exhaustion. In addition, a period of 13 working weeks from the date of exhaustion must have elapsed.

Maternity allowance is payable to any employed or self-employed woman for a period of 18 weeks beginning between the sixth and the second week before the expected week of confinement. The benefit is also payable for a period of 16 weeks to adoptive mothers of children aged under 12. To satisfy the insurance conditions a claimant must:

  • have been insured for at least 26 weeks and, up to the date of entitlement to maternity allowance, have paid basic insurance of not less than 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.50 insurance point); and
  • have paid and/or assimilated insurance over the relevant contribution year equal to at least 20 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.39 insurance point).

2.3. Are there any differences in the entitlement of young people to old-age pensions between those employed in temporary jobs as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate what these are. Have conditions of eligibility to pensions changed over the period of the crisis (including through pension reforms introduced as part of a long-term strategy to improve the financial sustainability of the system)?

The pensionable age is set at 65. Under some special conditions a person would be entitled at the age of 63. To satisfy the insurance conditions, a claimant must:

A/ For the period 6 October 1980-3 January 2010:

  • have been insured for at least 156 weeks,
  • have paid basic insurance up to the pensionable age equal to at least 156 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (3 insurance points),
  • the number of insurance points of paid and assimilated basic insurance for the period between 5 October 1964 (or, if he/she reached the age of 16 after 5 October 1964, on the first day of the year in which he/she reached that age), or since 7 January 1957 where this is more profitable for the beneficiary, and the week before the week which includes the day of entitlement, is equal to at least 25% of the years included in that period;

B/ For the period 4 January 2010-2 January 2011:

  • have been insured for at least 260 weeks,
  • have paid basic insurance up to the pensionable age equal to at least 260 times the weekly amount of the basic insurable earnings (5 insurance points),
  • the number of insurance points of paid and assimilated basic insurance for the period between 5 October 1964 (or, if he/she reached the age of 16 after 5 October 1964, on the first day of the year in which he/she reached that age), or since 7 January 1957 where this is more profitable for the beneficiary, and the week before the week which includes the day of entitlement, is equal to at least 30% of the years included in that period;

C/ For the period 3 January 2011- 1 January 2012:

  • have been insured for at least 364 weeks,
  • have paid basic insurance up to the pensionable age equal to at least 364 times the weekly amount of the basic insurable earnings (7 insurance points),
  • the number of insurance points of paid and assimilated basic insurance for the period between 5 October 1964 (or, if he/she reached the age of 16 after 5 October 1964, on the first day of the year in which he/she reached that age), or since 7 January 1957 where this is more profitable for the beneficiary, and the week before the week which includes the day of entitlement, is equal to at least 30% of the years included in that period;

D/ From 2 January 2012:

  • - have been insured for at least 520 weeks,
  • - have paid basic insurance up to the pensionable age equal to at least 520 times the weekly amount of the basic insurable earnings (10 insurance points),Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion
  • - the number of insurance points of paid and assimilated basic insurance for the period between 5 October 1964 (or, if he/she reached the age of 16 after 5 October 1964, on the first day of the year in which he/she reached that age), or since 7 January 1957 where this is more profitable for the beneficiary, and the week before the week which includes the day of entitlement, is equal to at least 30% of the years included in that period.

Changes over the period of the crisis:

  • Since 2008, three reforms have been put forward (CY1304039Q). The first reform that took place in 2009 aimed primarily at increasing revenue through higher contributions, the second reform was part of the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) for 2011, while the third one that took place in December 2012 came as a response to the government commitments, in the context of its request to be included in the European Support Mechanism. Most of the measures that were put forward during the first phase of the reform regarded higher contributions as a way to increase the future revenues of the GSIS (General Social Insurance Scheme), while other changes regarded the tightening of eligibility criteria to pension benefits. Specifically, Law 22(I)/2009, provided for Stricter eligibility conditions to old-age pension to be introduced gradually over the period until January 2012-increase of the minimum contribution requirement to 10 years of paid contributions (previously the minimum requirement was three years).

The new memorandum laws (Third Reform), as they are referred to, specifically Law 193(I)/2012 (21 December 2012) and Law 216(I)/2012 (28 December 2012) are bringing about important changes in the pension system for the public and the broader public sector (Government Employees Pension Scheme-GEPS), as well as the GSIS. Specifically, among the most important measures, which are slated to be implemented before 31 March 2013, it is possible to mention the following:

  • Increase in the minimum retirement age (63) for GSIS insured, in order to establish the right to a full pension, by six months per year to bring it into line with the legal retirement age (65).
  • Further increase in the legal retirement age (63) for people insured under the GEPS by two years for the various categories of workers, in order to acquire the right to a full pension.
  • Increase in the minimum period of contributions to GSIS from the current 10 years to at least 15 years in the period 2013-2017.
  • Change in indexation of all benefits, from wages to allowances for people insured under the GEPS, on the basis of which pension benefits will be calculated pro rata, taking account of service during a person’s entire working life, with implementation of the measure beginning in January 2013.

2.4. Are there any differences in entitlement of young people to health care between those employed in temporary jobs as opposed to permanent ones? If so, please indicate what these are. Have conditions of eligibility to health care changed over the period of the crisis?

Healthcare benefits are granted to Cypriot and EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, who are permanent residents in Cyprus. The extent of coverage is directly related to the income of single individuals or families and includes services provided at the governmental medical institutions. Free medical care is granted to single individuals whose annual income does not exceed € 15,377.41, and families whose annual income does not exceed € 30,754.82, increased by € 1,708.60 for each dependent child. Medical care at reduced fees is granted to single individuals whose annual income is between € 15,377.42 and € 20,503.22, and families whose annual income is between € 30,754.83 and € 37,589.23, increased by € 1,708.60 for each dependent child. Everybody else can make use of the Government medical services against payment of the set fees prescribed from time to time. The costs of expensive inpatient treatment may be reduced taking into account the income level of the patient. Healthcare benefits are also granted free of charge to persons suffering from certain chronic diseases, government officials, civil servants, members of families with three or more children, persons receiving public assistance, etc. Eligibility for healthcare benefits is conditional upon a registration to the National Health System.

3. Regulation of temporary contracts and policies to support transitions into permanent contracts

3.1. Please describe briefly the regulations applying to the main types of temporary contract in your country. Do restrictions exist on the maximum duration of the different types of temporary contract for young workers or the number of times they can be renewed? Do these regulations differ by age (i.e. between young people and older workers) and/or by type of temporary contract (as mentioned in question 1.3), by occupation, or by sector of activity? Do special regulations exist for those completing apprenticeships or traineeships? Have the regulations changed over the period of the crisis – i.e. has there been a tendency for them to have been tightened or relaxed?

A/ Regulations concerning temporary employment

The Fixed-Term Work (Prohibition of Unfavorable Treatment) Laws of 2003 and 2007 consist of the principal Law, which entered into force on 25 July 2003 and the Amendment Law, which lays down the powers and duties of the Inspectors and entered into force on 16 February 2007. The purpose of this Law is to improve the quality of fixed-term work and prevent abuse arising out of the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships.

Field of application

The Law applies to all fixed-term workers excluding a) initial vocational training relationships and apprenticeship scheme and b) employment contracts or relationships, which have been concluded within the framework of a specific public (state) or publicly supported training, integration or vocational retraining programme.

Principles of non-discrimination

In respect of the terms and conditions of employment, a fixed-term worker must not be treated in a less favorable manner than a comparable permanent worker, solely because he is a fixed-term worker, unless different treatment is justified on objective grounds.

Measures to prevent abuse

Where an employer employs a fixed-term worker, whether following a renewal of the fixed-term contract or otherwise, and that worker had previously been employed for a total period of 30 or more months under a fixed-term contract of employment (regardless of the series of successive fixed-term contracts of employment), the contract is regarded for all intents and purposes as a contract of an indefinite duration. It is pointed out that any provision set out in the fixed-term contract of employment limiting its duration, does not apply, except where the employer shows that the fixed-term employment of the worker is justified on objective grounds. Objective grounds exist in particular, when:

  • • The needs of the business for carrying out a specific task are temporary.
  • • The worker replaces another worker.
  • • The particularity of the specific task justifies the fixed-term employment contract.
  • • The worker is on probation.
  • • The fixed-term work is performed in execution of a Court’s decision.
  • • The fixed-term employment is in relation to contracts of five-year service volunteers and volunteer non-commissioned officers in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Cyprus.

Information on employment opportunities

The employer must provide information to the fixed-term workers about vacancies, which become available in the establishment or undertaking, with a view to ensuring that such workers have the same opportunities to secure permanent positions as other workers. Moreover, the employer should, as far as possible, facilitate access of fixed-term contract workers to appropriate training opportunities to upgrade their skills, career development and/or occupational mobility.

Information and consultation

Fixed-term workers must be taken into account in calculating the threshold above which workers’ representative bodies in the establishment or undertaking may be constituted, as provided for in the applicable law, collective agreements and practice, with due regard to the principle of non-discrimination as required by the law.

Competent court and sanctions

The competent court for the settlement of any dispute (of a civil nature), which arises from the application of the provisions of the Law, is the Labour Disputes Court. An employer, who violates the provisions of the Law, is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3.417.

Inspections

The Minister of Labour and Social Insurance has appointed Inspectors for the better carrying into effect of the Law. The Amendment Law of 2007 lays down the powers and duties of Inspectors. The Council of Ministers may make Regulations for the better carrying into effect the provisions of the Law.

More favorable provisions

The provisions of the Law do not prejudice the application of more favorable provisions set out in collective agreements concluded between the employer and the workers or their representatives.

B/ Regulations concerning traineeship

A specific law exists for the System of Traineeship (Law 13 of 1966). It should be noted that the term traineeship in Cyprus is associated with two different practices:

  • The system of traineeship which is provided by the Cyprus Productivity Center. Apprenticeship students (ages 14-17) attend general education and technical subjects relevant to their specialisation in Technical Schools, twice a week. The remaining three days, students work and receive in-company training at the establishment of their employers.
  • Traineeship for other training or education institutions. Working regulation for this category of apprentices is the same as for other workers (i.e. general labour regulation).

3.2. Do incentives exists in your country to encourage employers to opt for standard rather than temporary contracts of employment, to convert temporary contracts into permanent ones or to make it easier for employees to move from temporary to permanent contracts? If so, please briefly describe the form that these incentives take. Do they apply equally to young people as well as to older workers? Are any incentives in place to encourage employers to take on young people who have completed an apprenticeship or traineeship on permanent contracts? Have there been any changes to incentives over the period of the crisis? Are any such changes being proposed or being actively discussed at present in your country?

No such incentives have been mentioned during contacts with officers of the Ministry of Labour. The various temporary subsidy schemes existing for hiring young and unemployed individuals are considered to be an instrument for enhancing their employability and their ability to get a permanent contract. However these schemes do not include any specific provision for converting temporary contracts to permanent ones (e.g. programmes for employment incentives of the Department of Labour, Scheme for the recruitment of young graduates of tertiary education of the Human Resources Development authority).

3.3. Is the employment of young people on temporary contracts an important issue of concern for the social partners? Are there strong differences in attitudes and policies between employers and trade unions towards the use of temporary contracts? Have any initiatives been taken by the social partners, either jointly or separately, to encourage the use of permanent rather than temporary contracts? Have any specific initiatives been taken in respect of young people completing apprenticeships or traineeships over the types of job they are offered when their temporary position comes to an end?

Public discussion concerning temporary employment of young persons does not seem to be a matter of concern for social partners. The public discussion for this issue has been rather limited until today. However, due to the rise (as perceived by social partners and public officers) of bogus self-employment and temporary contracts for young individuals due to the crisis, temporary employment is considered as being potentially a future issue of higher concern for policy makers and social partners.

References

  • Cyprus National Reform Programme 2012, Planning Bureau, April 2012.
  • Michail, M., Hatzigiannis, K., Stephanides, M., Christophides, L., Klirides, S., Michalopoulou, M. (2008) “The impact of immigration on unemployment, part-time employment and participation to the labour force”, Economic Policy Paper No 08-08, Economic Researchs Centre, University of Cyprus.
  • Gregoriou, P., Kontolemis, Z., Matsi, M. (2009) “Immigration in Cyprus: An analysis of the determinants”, Economic Policy Paper No 11-09, Economics Researchs Centre, University of Cyprus.

Statistical information:

  • Labour Force Survey 2011, Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus.

Law and regulations

  • Fixed-term work (prohibition of unfavorable treatment), Employment Guide, Public Employment Service of Cyprus, Department of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.
  • Termination of Employment Law.
  • Apprenticeship Law of 1966.
  • MISSOC, Your social rights in Cyprus, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, July 2012.

Yannis Eustathopoulos, INEK-PEO.

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