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Criminal sanctions against employers for violations of labor law

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Criminal sanctions against employers for violations of labor law

An employment contract is a bilateral contract, under which the parties undertake obligations on both sides. The employee assumes as his main obligation the provision of work, and the employer has as his main obligation to pay to the employee its compensation (salary). It is easy to understand that the non-payment of the employee’s salary is the biggest violation to his legal rights and was the springboard for criminalization not only of this act of the employer but also of the general will for a more effective protection of the employee as the weakest part of employment relationship.

Therefore, criminalizing non-fulfillment of contractual obligations by the employer is not just about paying the salary.  The variety of legal obligations regarding the conditions and the way of providing work have caused the legislative intervention. Indicatively, in addition to the non-payment to the employee of the salary (article 28 law 3996/2011, SC 443/2018, SC 774/2019) criminal sanctions have been provided in case of non-compliance with health and safety measures (SC 30/2012, SC 121/2012), non-issuance of leisure permit (article 5 par. 7 of CL 539/1945, as amended in part by L 1386/1983, article 13 of Law 2943/1922), non-granting of weekly rest (article 17 RD 748/1966, SC 1448/2005) and illegal employment of women and minors (article 4 par. 4 of law 3144/2003). Criminal penalties are also provided in case of violation of provisions of trade union law 1264/1982 (SC 898/2009) and law 1876/1990 (article 21) which imposes a fine. The Criminalization of the employer’s non-compliance with the regulations of the labor legislation serves different purposes each time, depending on what the respective criminal provision wants to protect.

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