Cyprus: Working conditions in central public administration

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Employment status,
  • Labour market change,
  • Published on: 06 August 2013

Loucas Antoniou

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

This report briefly discusses the structure of Central Public Administration (CPA) in Cyprus by providing definitions, identifying categories of CPA workers and presenting figures and classifications as they develop in time. It also examines the recent reforms impacting on the working conditions of CPA workers and of broader public workers focusing on those implemented for the support of the public finances. It explains the rationale behind the reforms as well as their grounds. Additionally, it presents the expected reforms in the near future and identifies local entities responsible for inspection as well as their recent actions and activities. Finally, the views of social partners as related with the reforms are discussed.


This EWCO CAR is specifically focused on the so-called group of Central Public Administration (CPA) workers (for the concept of public administration, please refer to code 84 – Public administration and defence; compulsory social security of Eurostat’s NACE rev.2 Structure and explanatory notes, always at central level). This category of public workers includes those workers that are employed by the Central Public Administration (CPA) in each Member State, including deconcentrated levels both at regional (Federal or quasi-Federal States) or local level (municipalities), that is to say, workers employed by the CPA irrespectively of the place where they conduct their work. Also, CPA workers include both civil servants and public employees. By way of contrast, public workers employed by the regional or local public administrations are excluded from the research.

The CAR’s coordinating team is fully aware of the existence of very important differences in the definition and delimitation of the “central administration” amongst EU Member States, depending on their historical, political and cultural traditions. These differences will have to be borne in mind when conducting the research, in particular when making international comparisons. In absence of data covering the subsector CPA, national correspondents must indicate that clearly in their answers and shall try to provide the most approximate available data (for example, referring to part of CPA [data on employment in ministries] or comprising CPA [for example “public administration”]) .

The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:

  • Brief description of the general structure of the national Public Administration and of recent changes and reforms introduced (around 250 words)

  • Identification of main recent changes in the working conditions of Central Public Administration (CPA)’s workers, as well as their expected evolution in the near future Describe the main causes and rationale, both general and/or specific, behind these changes (around 1.500 words).

  • Identify relevant institutions and bodies with responsibility for inspection and enforcement of compliance with regulations or legislation on working conditions in the national CPAs, as well as their main recent activities in this domain (around 250 words).

  • Analyse comparatively the opinions and points of views of national social partners on the recent changes on the working conditions of CPA’s workers. Describe possible social dialogue initiatives taken to improve working conditions or avert their possible deterioration (around 400 words).

  • Make a final commentary on the main results (around 100 words)

Please give your answers as specifically as possible for the subheadings (1.1., 1.2.,…) in each block.

1: Brief description of the general structure of the national Public Administration and of recent changes and reforms introduced.

1.1 What is the definition/concept of CPA applicable in your country? What are the main similarities and differences of this definition in relation to the one provided in the Background Note? Are there also other Administrative levels (regional/local), whose workers have a different status?

According to the Public Service Law of 1990-2006, the term ‘civil/public service’ refers to any service under the Republic other than:

  • the judicial service of the Republic or service in the Armed or Security Forces of the Republic;

  • or service in the office of the General Attorney;

  • or the Auditor General or their Deputies;

  • or of the Accountant-General or his Deputies or service in any office in respect of which other provision is made by the law (e.g. Educational Service, Armed Forces, etc.);

  • or service of workers/laborers;

  • or of persons whose remuneration is calculated on a daily basis;

  • or service by persons who are employed on a casual basis in accordance with ‘Employment of Casual Officers (Public and Educational Service) Laws’.

The only observable difference between the above definition and the one provided in the Background Note is related with the naming; Public Service for Cyprus and Central Public Administration in the background note thought that the term Central Public Administration is used unofficially in Cyprus. Other than this, there are not obvious differences between the two.

They are not other administrative levels (i.e. regional); all workers with the same employment contracts in public services share equal status.

1.2 Describe possible different types of national CPA workers in terms of employment relationships/contracts (civil servants, public employees, etc) and their associated characteristics in terms of duties, rights, job responsibilities, ways to access to employment, etc.

Strictly following the above legislation, no different types of CPA workers are identified. However, four different types of workers are employed under the Central Public Administration which are distinguished by the terms of their employment status and related, predominantly, with their duration contracts as follow:

  • permanent workers (civil servants); that is, specialized personnel under the structure of the ministry/department/entity (non interchangeable personnel) , administrative, secretarial and assisting personnel (interchangeable personnel);

  • hourly paid workers; permanent, seasonal and casual hourly paid workers, that is manual workers, porters, cleaning staff, etc;

  • casual workers with define duration; that is, administrative, secretarial and assisting personnel;

  • casual workers with indefinite duration; that is, administrative, secretarial and assisting personnel.

This last category refers to casual workers that served in the public administration for more than 30 continuous months and thus they gained, according to the law, a non-stop status in the public administration having the right to hold their posts until retirement. This practice is no long in use; all casual workers are recruited for specific time-periods and they may reassert their posts, where is applicable, for new contracts with definite duration.

The duties, rights and job responsibilities of the civil servants are ascribed by the respective legislation and assigned in accordance with the positioning of each worker in the hierarchy of the public administration and the needs and requirements of the departments where workers are. Whereas the duties and job responsibilities for permanent and casual workers are the same, their rights, in relation to the benefits they receive such as retirement benefits, annual holidays, sick leave etc, differ. For example, sick leave for permanent workers goes up to 42 days per year whereas the casual workers are only eligible to 28 days. Similarly, the annual-paid leave for permanent and casual workers differs; the number of days of the annual leave for permanent workers increases with the years of service whereas the days for the casual workers remain the same, up to 20 days, no matter of the years of service in the public administration. The same rationale applies for the annual-paid leave for permanent hourly-paid workers and casual hourly-paid workers, respectively.

As for the access to employment in the public administration, for the permanent entry-posts there is a common entry-system through written and oral examination; score in written tests, performance in interviews, academic qualifications, professional qualifications and experience (always depending on the demands of the available post) are among the criteria under consideration within the selection processes. On the other hand, access to employment for the casual workers and hourly paid workers goes through an application process; usually, registered unemployed in the Public Employment Services of the Ministry of Labour and social Insurances, are encouraged to apply for such posts. Qualifications and experience as related with the vacancies are among the selection criteria. Casual workers, as any other eligible citizens, have the right to go through the process of examination and the selection processes while they serve as casual workers in the Public Administration in order to turn their status to permanent.

Similarly, duties, rights and job responsibilities of the broader public employees are defined by different and specific legislation for each governmental sector (i.e., education, police service, etc). Access to employment may differ from one to the other governmental sector. For example, in educational services (primary and secondary education) there is a nomination list of the registered graduates in each discipline whereas in the police and fire services a system of written, oral and physical-exercise examination determines entry to employment.

1.3 Related to the previous point, give some figures on employment in the public administration and specifically on CPA employment in your country for the time period 2005-2012

Evolution of CPA workers








2012 *

Civil Servants



























Public employees









Total Public administration workers



























% CPA workers/total public administration workers









Source: Labour Statistics 2011, Serial II, Report No 30. Statistical Service, Cyprus.

* data for the year 2012 is not available

** the classification is not mentioned in the statistical report but were provided by the officers of Statistical Services for the purposes of this questionnaire.

Since 2005, the number of civil servants increased, with the exception of the year 2007 where an insignificant decrease of 43 persons is observed in relation to the number of civil servants in 2006. As it shows in the table above, an increase of 3.626 civil servants is noticed from the year 2005 to the year 2011. Between these years, the increase in numbers does not follow a progressive trend. The larger increase is found in the year 2008 with a number of 1.216 individuals following by the year 2006 with 1.063.

In terms of gender, female civil servants exceed, numerically, their male co-workers by far and diachronically. Since 2006, the gap between men and women, in numbers, increases steadily and progressively in favour of women. While in 2006 the gap counts 3.283 more women civil servants in 2011 this gap expands to 5.004 even that the number of male civil servants after 2008 increases as well, thought slowly in comparison with the female counterparts.

Comparing the percentage of CPA workers and the percentage of the workers in the broader public sector, the percentage of CPA workers from 2005 increases 3.19 points to the year 2011 representing more than 40% of the total number of public administration workers.

It seems that the number of female workers out of the total public administration workers’ number steadily increases from the year 2005 onwards. Since 2007, the number of women exceeds the number of men progressively: in 2007 the difference in numbers between men and women is 670, in 2008 goes to 2.000, in 2009 climbs in 2.267, in 2010 launches in 3.399 and in 2011skyrockets to 3.996 posts.

1.4 Briefly describe the major changes and reforms implemented in your country’s CPA since 2008 onwards that have proven or very likely have changed/affected working conditions of CPA workers.

Most of the changes and reforms implemented in Cyprus affecting the working conditions of CPA workers during the period 2011-2012 are policy measures that affect, at the same moment, the entire public sector including the companies and organizations controlled by the State (semi-governmental sector) such as the Electricity and Telecommunication Authorities. These policy measures are related with the viability of the public debt having a structural base, including:

  • The freeze of earnings for workers and pensioners of the broader public sector for two years (2011-12). The memorandum for consolidating public finances that the government is currently negotiating with the ‘Troika’ (the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission) extends the period from December 2012-December 2016.

  • Freeze of the practice of Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for the public and broader public sector. The memorandum extents the suspension by the end of 2015.

  • 3% contribution of the gross income of the workers in the public and broader public sector.

  • Provisional contribution of income of pensioners, public and broader public works (temporary tax paid by workers and pensioners during 2011-2012): 1.5% for EUR 1501-2500, 2.5% for 2501-3500, 3% for EUR 3501-4500, and 3.5% for 4501 and above.

  • Reduction of the gross income of pensioners, public and broader public workers starting in December 2012 in a scale based ranging as follow: 6.5% for emoluments EUR1,001-1,500, 8.5% for EUR 1,501-2,000, 9.5% for EUR 2,001-3,000, 11.5% or EUR 3,001-4,000 and 12.5% for emoluments EUR 4,001 and above.

  • The inclusion of the young workers (new entrances in the public sector) in the Pensioners’ Fund of the Social Insurances.

  • 10% reduction of the entry-scale of salaries for the newcomers in the broader public sector.

  • The reduction of employment in the public sector; implementing one (1) recruitment for every four (4) retirements. The aim is to reduce the number of civil servants and public employees by 5,000 in the next 5 years.

  • The introduction of permanent contributions towards the pension rights in the broader public sector as well as the introduction of provisional contributions.

  • The abolition of 1,880 permanent posts in the public and broader public sector.

Block 2: Identification of main recent changes in the working conditions of CPA’s workers in your country, as well as their expected evolution in the future.

2.1 Please provide relevant information on the evolution in the time period 2008 onwards on the following working conditions-related variables specifically related to CPA workers in your country. If possible, compare differences between specific subgroups (e.g. civil servants, public employees) and with other public and private workers:

There are not available national surveys, researches or studies on the recent changes related with the working conditions of CPA workers. However, certain issues of the provided list are discussed here according to the information received during interviews with officials of the Public Administration and Personnel Department. Even that employment security was never an issue for the public workers in Cyprus since the establishment of the Republic, the recent changes on public finances, the ongoing public discourse, the freezing of posts in the public administration and the memorandum itself brought a negative influence among public employees and the fear to lose employment wanders around. Fear to lose employment, of course, in the private sector is even worse as many private workers are losing continually their jobs and as the unemployment rate is steadily increasing. The unemployment rate is over 12% and the forecast for recovery goes long after 2015.

As far as skills development is concerned, the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration of the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the development and implementation of an appropriate personnel management policy. Its mission is to contribute to the continuous improvement of the Public Services and thus offering a range of programmes at individual, group and organizational level. If offers: (1) horizontal learning activities addressing the common needs of employees regardless of the department such as the ‘induction course for new entrants’ and the ‘general clerical staff training and (2) ad hoc horizontal activities such as ‘gender equality training programme’ and ‘training programme in the view of the Cyprus presidency’. Additionally, since October 2011 a pioneer project aiming at the decentralization of the management of learning and of the learning budget was established. Public organizations are responsible to diagnose the learning needs of their organizations through research, to prepare action learning plans, to implement the activities and to evaluate the implemented activities. On the other hand, in the private sector, private organizations and businesses have the opportunity to provide training to their employees through funded programmes of the Human Resource and Development Authority. The Authority mission is to provide systematic training and development of the human resources in all levels and domains of the Cypriot economy excluding the governmental sector based on a strategic planning.

On health and wellbeing, in 2012 and following the Law on the Management of Occupational Health and Safety 173/2000, Health and Safety Committees have been established in every governmental organization. The assigned Health and Safety Representatives (REP) of the committees went through basic training. The training provided the appropriate guidelines on implementing a high quality safety programme aiming to prevent illnesses, injuries and death from work related issues.

In relation to the Reconciliation of Working and non-Working Life, civil servants enjoy the right of flexibility of the starting time and they have the flexibility to fulfil personal and family matters which is monitored by the head of each department. In the private sector, the starting time flexibility is rarely used; flexibility to fulfil personal matters is a more common practice.

2.2 If available, and based on existing forecasting studies/researches, etc., please provide information on the expected evolution and trends in the number of CPA workers and their working conditions in the nearer future (coming 1-3 years).

Existing forecasting studies dealing with the evolution of numbers or working conditions of the CPA workers do not exist. However, as explained above (see question 1.4), policy measures have been taken in relation to the viability of the public debt, and re-affirmed by the available draft of the memorandum, including the reduction of the numbers of civil and public workers including the reduction of employment in the public sector within the scheme of one (1) recruitment for every four (4) retirements that aims to decrease the number of civil servants and public employees by 5,000 for the next 5 years. The measures also include the abolition of 1,880 permanent posts in the public and broader public sector. However, the policy measures do not specify how the reductions will affect numerically the workers neither by their employment status (CPA workers or the public workers, respectively) nor by gender. For this, there is a current process within the Public Administration and Personnel Department working on the planning of these policy measures. It seems that the group that is affected most by the measures is the one working with casual contracts as the officers mentioned during the interviews.

Furthermore, certain provisions for the reform of the public administration found in the memorandum seem to affect the working conditions of public workers. First, it enforces immediate application of mobility of public service workers within and across ministries and other governmental entities. Second, it establishes a non-stop working time in the Public Service, in conjunction with moving the starting time by half an hour (from 7:30 to 8:00) and extending the flexibility period from a half to one hour. With this modification the weekly hours of public officers remain unchanged. Third, the authorities will commission an independent external review of possible further reforms of the public administration. The review will cover (1) ‘examination of the role, the competences, the organizational structure and size/staffing of relevant ministries, services and independent authorities, (2) examination of the possibility of abolishing or merging/consolidating non-profit organizations/companies and publicly owned enterprises, (3) appropriate system of remuneration and working conditions/conditions of employment in the public sector (e.g. annual vacation leave, sick leave, maternity leave, working time), in relation to the private sector and to other EU countries and (4) the introduction of a new performance based appraisal system in the public sector, for development and promotion purposes, linking performance with the remuneration system/increments’.

2.3 Please provide information on the likely causes of changes in the working conditions of CPA’s workers identified and their respective rationale. If possible, distinguish between causes related to cyclical reforms from and those related to structural reforms.

The causes of changes in the working conditions of CPA workers are mostly related with the public finances. Even that Cyprus experienced satisfactory levels of growth expanding the public sector employment the last decades, it is now commonly accepted that the public sector requires a fiscal-structural reform in order to provide the appropriate support for sustainable growth. The continuous growth of employment in the public sector brought irregularities in relation of the shares of Cypriots working in the public and private sector. According to a study of the ex-president of Cyprus, George Vasileiou, published in the daily press on 20 June 2011, the percentage of Cypriot public workers increased at a faster pace than the total number of the economically active Cypriots representing, thus, more than 18% of the total in 2010. Along with this, the cost of the labour force in the public sector represents, according to the same study, more than 14.5% of the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is estimated as a very high percentage. Additionally, the study indicates that between the years 2005 and 2010 the increases of the salaries of the public employees were double or even triple of the rate of the inflation and that the total cost of the salaries of the public sector is 30% higher than the income of the direct taxation of the state.

3: Compliance with regulations on working conditions

Identification of specific institutions and bodies with responsibility for inspection and enforcement of compliance with regulations or legislation on working conditions in the national CPAs, as well as their main recent activities in this domain

3.1 Please identify specific national institutions or bodies with responsibility for inspection and enforcement of compliance with regulations/legislation on working conditions in the national public administration in general and CPA workers in particular.

One of the national institutions with responsibility for inspection is The Department of Labour Inspection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. Its objective is the continuous and ongoing improvement of the occupational health and safety standards, to ensure a satisfactory level of air quality, the safeguard of the employees against ionized radiation hazards and chemical substances. Its strategy is to put into force (1) appropriate legislative framework, (2) appropriate market surveillance system, (3) accidents’ prevention through guidance, information and training, (4) encouragement of research and progress and (5) close collaboration with stakeholders.

The other department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance with responsibility of inspection is the Department of Labour Relations. The department is responsible for safeguarding and maintaining industrial peace and healthy conditions with a view to achieving social cohesion, productivity, the establishment of democratic practices and the achievement of socio-economic progress. In brief, the department is responsible, among others, for (1) the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, (2) the safeguarding of the right of unionism, (3) the protection of vulnerable groups, (4) the enforcement of labour law, (5) the promotion of the principle of equal treatment between employees and (6) the enforcement of the trade union laws in both the public and the private sector.

Another department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance with responsibility of inspection is the Social Insurance Services. Among their responsibilities is (1) the application of government policy in relation to social insurances and the implementation of specific schemes and measures, (2) the submission of suggestions on governmental policy for the improvement of social insurance in relation with international developments and the conditions in Cyprus and (3) the continuous evaluation of the implemented schemes. The Services are responsible for the application of the law regarding the annual holidays, the termination of employment, the provident fund, the social pension, the equal treatment between men and women and so on in both the public and the private sector.

Finally, the Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) and particularly the Equality Authority of the Office of the Commissioner has responsibility of inspection. The Authority investigates, independently, reports by persons who believe that are victims of discrimination in employment or work both in the private and the public sector in relation to age, gender, ethnic origin, disability, religion and sexual orientation. The prohibition of discrimination in the field of employment and work covers the entire spectrum of employment relations in the public and private sector including (1) the procedures and criteria for recruitment, (2) promotion and professional development, (3) access to professional or vocational guidance and retraining and (4) the working conditions and the terms of employment, including remuneration.

3.2 Provide a brief description and available data of their activities and recent initiatives in the field of CPA working conditions taken since 2008 onwards.

Among the initiatives that The Department of Labour Inspection is (1) the 63th meeting of the senior labour inspection committee that aimed to discuss ergonomics and its contribution to the improvement of occupational health and safety, performance and productivity at work, (2) the public announcement of ‘hazard goods’ in the market and personal defence measures, (3) the promotion of legislation of the industrial pollution, (4) the development of a strategic plan for health and safety at work and (5) the production of guidelines for the management of health and safety at work.

The Department of Labour Relations within its modernization processes, and after four years of negotiations with the social partners, in 2012 succeeded to pass the law for the recognition of union organization and the right of union facilitation. In addition, the department is currently implementing a project on reducing the gender pay gap among a diverse group of workers including groups of civil servants and public employees.

The Equality Authority during this period provided direct information on equality issues to organizations requested for information by the authority such as research centres and public and private organizations. It participated in local and European seminars and events aiming to the establishment of collaborations with other equality authorities, the exchange of experiences and knowledge and the continuous training of its officers. The Authority, also, developed strong intermediary activity intervening, written or verbally, and succeeded in completing outstanding issues such as the intervention for adherence of gender equality for the employment of hourly-paid workers at the General Hospital of Larnaka and the intervention for the evaluation of a female public worker by her department during a year that she confronted extensive health problems because of pregnancy and long term absence from her duties.

4: Social partners points of view

4.1 Please reflect the points of view of the main social partners in the national public administration with respect to the recent evolution of working conditions of CPA workers, and their assessment of the current situation and perspectives about the future. Describe the elements of agreement/disagreement between them.

The Pancyprian Public Employees Trade Union, PASYDY, (Παγκύπρια Συντεχνία Δημοσίων Υπαλλήλων, ΠΑΣΥΔΥ ), who represents the majority of the CPA workers, as well as the union movement in general and the trade unions of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour, PEO ( Παγκύπρια Εργατική Ομοσπονδία, ΠΕΟ) and the Cyprus Workers Confederation,SEK (Συνομοσπονδία Εργαζομένων Κύπρου, ΣΕΚ), recognized the need for adapting policy measures to tackle the financial crisis. They support, however, that that the policy measures taken during the years 2011-2012, as well as the provisions of the memorandum, are neither fair for public employees nor balanced. They feel that although the policy measures concern the working conditions of the employees in the broader public sector, the government came to a decision in the absence of the social partners. The union movement, also, believes that the problem with the crisis is not the wages of the public workers but public workers are charged with the responsibility for the crisis by the government. They feel that the workers should not pay the burden for the mistakes and mismanagement of the banking sector and of public finances. They also believe that the successive liability on public employees is disproportionate for their employee category. It is obvious, for them, that workers of the public sector underwent significant financial lost, which affect their lives and their families’ programming. Other measures could be implemented, as they suggest, such as measures towards tax evasion and the taxation of the wealth.

4.2 Identify recent social dialogue initiatives taken by public sector social partners in the last 3-4 years in order to develop/improve working conditions amongst CPA workers and/or minimise negative consequences of some changes. Briefly describe (objectives, activities developed outcomes) and assess them.

Currently there are no initiatives for dialogue among public sector social partners on improving the working conditions of CPA workers. On the contrary, one may support that the current dialogue among the social partners is on how to protect the working conditions of CPA workers after the policy measures taken for the viability of public debt and the support of the Banking sector. However, actions, programmes and measures that the Department of Public Administration and Personnel is currently implementing are expected to improve the working conditions of CPA workers in the long term and as the actions will be completed. These actions include the modernization of the various departments, services and ministries through ongoing studies on organization of the departments and staffing, reduction of complicated processes, the effective use of the human resources, better legislation, reduction of administrative burden and impact assessment. They also include the introduction of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), the development of a data system for the coordination of the human resource, the restructuring and improvement of the public departments and the speediness of the employment processes.

4.3 Describe the public debate (if any) in your country regarding the status and working conditions of CPA workers with respect to other groups of public workers and to private sector workers.

There is no debate on the status and working conditions of CPA workers and other groups in the public and private sector currently in Cyprus.


It is obvious that CPA workers and workers of the broader public sector are the groups of the labour force that pay the larger proportion for the rebalance of public finances through taxation and the scheme for the reduction of public expenditures. Workers in the private sector are also called to contribute by paying their share thought it is the sector that affected first by the crisis with dismissals and high rates of unemployment, deprivation and denial of their working rights affecting thus their working conditions and terms of employment. Consequently, the turn on the public administration and the broader public sector, which are considered as the ‘privileged’ groups of the labour force, for rebalancing public finances is viewed as a single direction. Taken the growth of the public sector the last couple of decades, the high cost of labour of the sector and the gap between public and private, the reduction of salaries and the shrink of the sector were more or less expected.

Loucas Antoniou, Cyprus Labour Institute, INEK-PEO


  • Andreas Louca, Senior Permanent Secretary, Pancyprian Public Employees Trade Union (PASYDY).

  • Klea Zambarloukou, Senior Officer, Human Resource Management and Public Relations, Department of Public Administration and Human Resource. Ministry of Finance.

  • Eliza Loizou, Officer, Department of Public Administration and Human Resource. Ministry of Finance.

  • Sofia Vasileiou, Officer, Department of Public Administration and Human Resource. Ministry of Finance.

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