Greece: Latest developments in working life Q2 2019

The passing of new regulations to strengthen the protection of private sector workers, special measures to protect delivery drivers, and the evolution of wages between 2017 and 2018 are the main topics of interest in this article.This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Greece in the second quarter of 2019.

New measures aim to protect private sector workers

On 17 May 2019, the government introduced Law 4611/2019, which includes measures to strengthen the protection of workers.

Justification of dismissal: Employers will be obliged to give a valid reason to justify the dismissal of an employee. A valid reason may be related to the conduct or abilities of the employee, or the operational needs of the enterprise. Under the new regulation, the burden of arguing and proving that the conditions exist for a valid dismissal fall on the employer. In addition, in the event of an argument being made that an employee has caused damage in the course of their work, the employee is liable only in the case of intent (Articles 48 and 49).

Conversion of employment contracts: An employment contract can only be converted from full-time to part-time or short-term work by written agreement and after notifying the Labour Inspectorate.

Redundancy payments: Redundancy payments must be made to the bank accounts of employees. The same process is also required for the payment of compensation and social security contributions for interns or apprentices (Articles 51 and 52). Previously it was only obligatory to pay regular earnings into an employee’s bank account.

Access to information: Employees now have access to the Ministry of Labour’s ERGANI information system to retrieve data concerning their individual employment relationship (Article 54).

Financial penalties: Employers will be subject to financial penalties if they obstruct inspections by the Labour Inspectorates (Article 62).

Rules to protect delivery drivers

The working conditions of motorcycle and moped delivery drivers, who chiefly work in food delivery and as couriers, are characterised by increased risk, inadequate protection measures and a high level of illegality. According to employees, there were 14 deaths during working hours in the last year and a half, and many cases of physical violence against workers claiming unpaid arrears. For these reasons, delivery drivers have repeatedly taken part in protests.

In a 24-hour strike on 11 April 2019, which was supported by the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE), delivery drivers demanded that measures be put in place to ensure decent working conditions and prevent arbitrary actions by employers. The main demands were for:

  • employers to provide a company motorcycle or moped and pay for its running costs, maintenance and operation
  • the job to be classified as an arduous and unhealthy occupation
  • a collective employment agreement to be signed

According to the Ministry of Labour, 15,000 inspections were carried out in the delivery sector in 2017 and 2018, and the Labour Inspectorate imposed fines amounting to €22 million.

The Ministry of Labour drew up a circular in December 2018 setting out the measures that enterprises must take to ensure the safety and personal protection of their employees. According to the circular, the maintenance of motorcycles and mopeds should be the employer’s responsibility, and the employer must provide delivery drivers with the individual protective wear laid down by law and check that it is worn at work.

Despite this, a large proportion of employers failed to comply with the measures and the relevant state institutions failed to carry out inspections and impose penalties. The Ministry of Labour therefore introduced legislative regulations/measures under Law 4611/2019 (Articles 55 and 56) to ensure a stricter framework for applying legislation.

  • Employers will now have to declare the registration numbers of motorcycles and mopeds on the Ministry of Labour’s ERGANI information system.
  • Employers will have to provide a company motorcycle or moped and will be responsible for its maintenance (to safeguard the health and safety of employees).
  • Employers will have to provide employees with equipment and individual protective wear (e.g. helmet, coat, gloves, waterproof clothing and reflective jacket).
  • Employers will have to keep the necessary evidence that the law has been applied in respect of vehicle maintenance and the provision of individual protective wear, and that employees have been fully informed about the equipment they need to have at work.
  • There will be an additional monthly vehicle use and maintenance allowance for employees who use their own moped or motorcycle, amounting to 15% of their regular wages (not subject to taxation and not offset by maintenance costs) and to be paid into the same bank account as the employee’s wages.

 

Evolution of wages from 2017 to 2018

According to data released by the Unified Social Security Fund (EFKA), the average wage in December 2018 was €1,160 for full-time employees (70% of the workforce) and €391 for part-time employees (30% of the workforce). The data also revealed that the average salary had fallen by 1.23% since 2017, despite a 5.13% increase in employment.[1]

Commentary

While the changes to labour relations in the second quarter of 2019 largely concerned individual arrangements and issues, they have contributed to an overall improvement in working conditions and helped to strengthen their protective framework, particularly in the delivery sector.


Footnote

  1. ^ Kathimerini (2019), Μεικτός μισθός 391,32 ευρώ για 1 στους 3 εργαζομένους , 3 July.

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