Greece: Working life country profile

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Health and well-being at work,
  • Pay and income,
  • Skills and training,
  • Work organisation,
  • Working time,
  • Labour market participation,
  • Collective bargaining,
  • Social partners,
  • Social partners,
  • Inequality,
  • Working conditions,
  • Labour market change,
  • Industrial relations,
  • Labour and social regulation,
  • Quality of life and quality of society,
  • Social policies,
  • Labour market change,
  • Published on: 25 November 2015

Penny Georgiadou
Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Greece. It aims to complement other Eurofound research, by providing the relevant background information on 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.

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Greece                                          




% (point) change














Unemployment rate  total







Unemployment rate  women







Unemployment rate – men







Unemployment rate  youth







Employment rate – total







Employment rate  women







Employment rate  men







Employment rate  youth







Source: Eurostat - Unemployment rate by sex and age - annual average, % [une_rt_a]; Purchasing power parities (PPPs), price level indices and real expenditures for ESA 2010 aggregates [prc_ppp_ind]).


Economic and labour market context

Since the onset of the economic crisis, the Greek economy has remained in deep recession accompanied by very high unemployment levels. Between 2010 and 2015, Greek GDP decreased 8.1%, in contrast to a 13% increase in the EU average for the same period. Unemployment figures continued to rise substantially, in particular youth unemployment (an increase of 16.8 percentage points), which stood at 49.8% in 2015, while the EU average for this group was 20.3%. However, total employment figures did not change between 2010 and 2015, with some increase for women (2.4 percentage points), alongside decreases of 2.5 percentage points for men and 4 percentage points for young people. The employment rate for the latter group was 26% in 2015, well below the EU average rate for the same year (41.5%).

More information on:


Legal context

There is no a single labour law or code for governing the individual labour relations. On the contrary, there exists 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 fields 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 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/occupation 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 partly reversed in 2014 by the issuing by the Council of State of a decision making again lawful the right of unilateral appeal to arbitration procedures but a new regulation, 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.

Finally, national social partners no longer have the ability to set the national minimum wage through the National General Collective Employment Agreement (EGSSE). New legislation (Law4093/2012, 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

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.


As regards trade unions’ operations and their basic rights (recognition, representativeness, right to strike), these are set out in Law No. 1264/1982, which has had some minor modifications over the years. At national level, there is only one workers’ confederation, the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE)

There is no specific legislation regarding employers’ representativeness. The Law on collective bargaining (Law No. 1876/1990) refers to ‘employers’ organisations of wider representation’, which can sign 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 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.

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 – federations consist of two or more primary unions of a sector or a profession and Labour Centres represent unions at the local level; and 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 genera,l 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.

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

Employees: 2853,924



Employees: 2645,866



Employees: 2398,792



OECD/Visser (2014)

Trade union membership in 1000







OECD/Visser (2014)

Main trade union confederations and federations

The biggest federations within GSEE are:

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

The biggest federations within ADEDY are:

Main trade union confederations and federations

Long name



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)



Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions


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


Greek Federation of Private Employees


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


Federation of Personnel of the Public Power Corporation SA


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


Federation of Greek Builders and associated professions


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


Confederation of Public Servants


ADEDY consists of 45 Federations.

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



Greek Teachers' Federation


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


Panhellenic. Federation of Public Hospital Employees


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


Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers


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



Panhellenic Federation of Workers Associations in the Local Government



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


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 are 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 (at local and sectoral level), with 120,000 individual companies as members. 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’ unions, most of them of local nature and 283 local traders’ associations with almost 90,000 member companies. 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 50,000 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. 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.

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

Main employers’ organisations and confederations

Long name




Involved in collective bargaining

Hellenic Federation of Enterprises


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)



 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



Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises


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



Tripartite and bipartite bodies and concertation

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 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 most of the cases, the relevant Minister participates in the deliberations of the General Assembly.

The Arbitration and Mediation Organisation (OMED) established with Law No. 1876/1990 is an independent institution in the service of the social partners when they fail to conclude a collective agreement. Proposals by the organisation’s mediators are not binding; but decisions by the organisation’s 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). However this unilateral recourse to arbitration was abolished in 2010 by Law 3899/2010 and employers must now agree to use arbitration. The new regulations also restrict arbitration decisions into determining only minimum monthly and/or daily wages. Other terms of employment – such as benefits, bonuses, working hours, holidays and the regulation of structuring and filling job vacancies, recruitment, termination of employment, grounds for termination and termination procedures and severance pay – can no longer be regulated by arbitration decisions but only through collective agreements.     

The Government Council for Employment was established by a Decision of the ‘Council of Ministers’ (No. 13 / 14.04.2014) with the aim the develop 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.

Main tripartite and bipartite bodies

Name Type Level Issues covered

Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE)



Wages, skills, training, working time, unemployment.

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



Wages, working time, working conditions.

Government Council for Employment




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






Involved in company level collective bargaining

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

Trade union

Law No1264/1982

Member workers of the union in companies/ sector/



Minimum 21 workers

 Works council

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

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.

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


% employees covered

% of establishments covered

% employees covered

% of establishments covered

Trade union





Works council





Joint Committee (or association of persons)





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

Collective employment relations

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

Collective bargaining

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 favorable 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.

A relevant figure can be extracted by the ERGANI monitoring system which, among other things, records the total wage earnings of employees encoded into 11 salary categories. The system records the figures once a year, each October. The latest ERGANI report (December 2014) shows that the percentage of workers with full-time employment contracts and with gross salary earnings of between €500 and €600, is 9%. Based on the fact that the national minimum wage is €586, it is estimated that 9% of workers are paid around the minimum wage. Nevertheless, the ERGANI system can't give any further illustration on the rate of wage bargaining coverage.

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. More information on methodology, see here.

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, 2010–2014







General National, Intersectoral (EGSSE 2010-2012)







National sectoral or professional






Local sectoral or professional




















General National, Intersectoral (EGSSE 2010-2012)

Universally binding

Universally binding

Not universally binding applies only to members


No wage setting, applies only for members


No wage setting, applies only for members


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


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

No Extension mechanism, applies only to members


Applies for all employees in the company, independently of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independently of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independently of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independently of membership

Applies for all employees in the company, independently 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 – 2014


National level (Intersectoral)

Sectoral level

Company level

  Wages Working time Wages Working time Wages Working time

Principal or dominant level






Concerns only the WT arrangements within a company without exceeding of the total maximum working time set by the law.

Important but not dominant level







Existing level

No influence

Weekly working time is a term of the EGSSE of 1984, which was ratified by law and sets the maximum limits.






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 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 starts when the respective agreement has expired. There is no specific or fixed period /timing for bargaining rounds. When each separate collective agreement expires, it remains (according to new law No. 4331/2015) in force for a six-month period for re-negotiation (previously three months). By law the maximum period of validity of a collective agreement is three years.


There are no specific coordination mechanisms.

Extension mechanisms

There is no more extension mechanism for collective agreements. An extension mechanism existed until 2012. The collective agreements are now binding only for the members of the signatory parties.

Derogation mechanisms

Law No. 3845/2010 and subsequent legislation gives 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

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 that: the extension period of the old collective agreement until the signing of a new one is no more than three months (previously six months); 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.

Other aspects of working life addressed in collective agreements

Collective labour agreements 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, the social partners at a national level seem ready to deal with broader issues regarding the labour market, although nothing in particular has come up yet.

In the 2013 EGSEE social partners commited themselves to undertake joint initiatives in order to deal with unemployment, especially to: combat undeclared work; to modify the new legal framework that restricts collective autonomy; to re-establish the full and universal effect of the EGSSE; and to extend the scope of collective agreements in favour of equal treatment and against unfair competition, including the framework of operation for the post-termination effect.

In the 2014 EGSEE, social partners agreed to intervene in the design and implementation of a National Programme Agreement for the economic and social reconstruction of Greece and the establishment of cooperation network between them, based on the following topics: (1) Employment - Education – Training, (2) Social Protection, (3) Competitiveness, (4) Entrepreneurship – Innovation. Also, social partners agreed to promote joint action on issues such as social dialogue, training, with the technical support of the Athens Liaison Office of the ILO. Also, a special clause was introduced. It provides that if the legislation is changed while the current agreement is in effect, then direct negotiations would start regarding the wage levels of the national collective agreement. Finally, new provisions for parental leave would allow fathers to take time off in order to look after their children where the mother was self-employed.

Industrial action and disputes

Legal aspects

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. 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 remain 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.

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 sectorial / professional primary level union against the employer or government in the case of public sector unions.

Incidence of different forms of industrial action 2013

Work-to-rule or refusal to do overtime


Work stoppage or strike for less than a day


Strike of a day or more


Blockade or occupation


Percentage of private sector establishments reporting any form of Industrial action during the indicated period. Source: European company survey.

Industrial action developments 2012–2014





Number of strikes

439 (including all types)

443 (including all types)


Source: INE GSEE, Annual report of strike action taken in Greece since 2009

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): 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. 38996/2011): 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




Source: SEPE, Annual Report 2013

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; 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.

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


Maximum duration


Who pays

Legal basis

Maternity leave (basic)

 Duration 17 weeks (or 119 days). Eight weeks (56 days) before childbirth and nine weeks (63 days) after childbirth, which is compulsory.


Total wage earnings


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).

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


Maternity leave (special)

Six months

National minimum wage

Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

 Law No. 3655/2008 (article 142)

Paternity leave

 Two days at each birth

Full wage

Paid by the employer

Law No. 1483/1984



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.

Without payment


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

Childcare Leave

Parents are entitled to work one hour less per day for up to 30 months after

maternity leave. This may be taken as: two hours less per day for the first 12 months and one hour less per day for another six months; or, with the employer’s agreement, in part(s) of time of equal time value within the 30

month period after maternity leave.

This last option, of converting reduced hours into a block or blocks of leave, means that a parent can take a number of months off

work, up to an estimated period of three to three-and-a-half months.

This leave is described as

‘alternative use of reduced hours as leave for the care of children’.

The reduced working time for childcare is viewed and paid as full employment time


Paid by the employer


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 new legislation (Law 3863/2010) and after a transitional period, from 1 January 2013 onwards, new requirements for retirement are in force.

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.


Minimum wages

The national minimum wage in Greece is set by the government.

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, of the existing national minimum wage of year 2012 (€751.40). The new national minimum wages determined to €586.08 and €510.95 for employees under 25 years old. The new reduced wages will be in force until 31 December2016.

Subsequent legislation (Law No. 4172/2013) established a new mechanism for setting the national minimum wages. From 1 January 2017 the minimum wage will be set by a final Decision of the Ministry of Labour, after consultations with the national social partners. The consultation period will be starting at the beginning of each year and the final ministerial decision will be issued at the end of June.

For more information regarding the level and development of minimum wages, please see Eurofound’s annual update on developments in collectively agreed pay or visit Eurostat.

Collectively agreed pay outcomes

For more detailed information further information on the most recent outcomes in terms of collectively agreed pay, please consult Eurofound’s collectively wage bargaining portal or Eurofound’s most recent annual update on developments in collectively agreed pay.

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 Eurofound’s most recent annual update on working time.

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 part-time 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. 2639/98), part-time employment 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 by the employer – employee, whether reached at the outset 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.

According to recent data issued by the Ministry of Labour and the ‘ERGANI’ monitoring system, the percentage of employees working as part-time or with fewer hours was 21.8% in 2014 (2013: 20.2%). However, this figure includes work of any type with fewer hours such as ‘rotating’ work (work with less hours per day/per week/per month).

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













Source: ERGANI

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).

Proportion of establishments reporting that some employees have the possibility to adapt the start and end of their working day according to their personal needs

Establishment size

None or fewer than 20% in the establishment

Between 20-80% in the establishment

More than 80% in the establishment

















Source: European Company Survey 2013

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be 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 lose productivity through ill-health of their workers. This section looks into psychosocial risks and health and safety in Greece.

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.   

Selected working conditions indicators affecting psychosocial risks





Work intensity: Working to tight deadlines at least a quarter of the time




Long working hours: Working more than 10 hours once or more per month




Discrimination: having been subjected to discrimination at work over the past 12 months




Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey

More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey

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 os accidents per 1,000 employees. A possible explanation of this trend could be that, due to the economic crisis and the high levels of unemployment, the absolute number of the accidents is decreasing but the ratios remain stable or are increasing. The crisis has a negative impact on keeping health and safety workplace rules because they have a certain cost for the companies.

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

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







All accidents






Percentage change on previous year






Per 1,000 employees






Source: Eurostat, [hsw_mi01] and [lfsa_eegaed]

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.

Proportion of employees receiving paid time off for training, by existence of a workplace employee representation and establishment size

Establishment size

Employee representation at establishment or company exists

None or fewer than 20% in the establishment

20%–80% in the establishment

More than 80% in the establishment































Source: European Company Survey 2013

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 effect 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,

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 recently (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.

Important recent research (2011) in 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%).

Equality and non-discrimination at work

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 Inspectorates annual reports for 2009–2013 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 cooincides with the economic crisis and the consequent violations of labour law.

Complaints about discrimination 2009–2013


Number of complaints

Individual disputes
















Source: Labour Inspectorate

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.


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

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

INE GSEE (2105), 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), Organisational structure of the Greek trade union movement 2013, Athens.

Ministry of Labour, Reports of ERGANI and ARTEMIS (2013-2014), Athens

SEPE, Annual Report 2013, Athens


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