Law 4808/2021 ( labor arrangements)
On 19/6/2021 the new labor law voted in Parliament (law 4808/2021) which contains important regulations regarding labor rights with provisions concerning both Individual and Collective Labor Law.
Initially, it ratified the 190/2019 contract of the International Labor Organization and incorporated it in the Greek legal order with articles 1 to 23 of the law. It is about adopting measures against violence and harassment in the workplace by expanding the scope of prohibited behaviors by introducing psychological violence (mobbing) by expanding the circle of protected persons as well.
Many of the regulation is an adaptation of Greek law incorporating Directive (EU) especially the 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on the work-life balance for parents and carers, and regulation of leave related to family protection (Articles 24 – 45).
Of course, the implementation of many of the provisions requires the issuance of Ministerial Decisions and clarifying circulars, because there are many vague legal concepts and issues that need interpretation and clarification, because without them will create problems and tensions between employees and employers.
In the following text we briefly list the main regulations of the new labor law, with some more specific notes on issues that in our opinion need special attention and their entry into force in accordance with its transitional provisions.
Ratification of International Labor Organization Convention No. 190/2019
Adoption of measures and provisions on harassment and violence at work
- Prohibition of violence and harassment at work
All forms of violence and harassment which occur at work, whether associated with it or arising from it, including gender-based violence and harassment and sexual harassment are prohibited.
- Employer’s obligations to prevent and combat violence and harassment
Every employer, irrespective of the number of staff employed, and the persons exercising management rights or representing the employer, are obliged to receive, investigate and manage all complaints, to assist all authorities, to provide information to employees, and to post contact details of the competent authorities at the workplace.
- Health and safety briefing – amendment of Article 47 of Law 3850/2010
The employer must take appropriate measures to ensure that workers and their representatives at the undertaking receive all necessary information concerning, inter alia, the risks of violence and harassment at work, including sexual harassment, and the measures being taken to combat them.
- Strengthening the concept of psychosocial risks. Amendment of Article 42 of Law 3850/2010
Among other things, the employer must ensure that the measures referred to in the previous paragraph are adjusted in line with changes in circumstances and must seek to improve existing situations and to assess psychosocial risks, including the risks of violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, and must take measures to prevent, control and limit such.
- Reinforcement of the competences of the occupational physician Amendment of Articles 17 to 18 of Law 3850/2010
Bolstering the competences of the occupational physician to also cover combating these risks
- In-house policies to combat violence and harassment
Undertakings employing more than 20 people are obliged to adopt a policy on how to prevent and combat violence and harassment at work within the meaning of Articles 3 and 4, which declares zero tolerance to such forms of conduct and sets out the rights and obligations of employees and the employer in preventing and addressing such incidents or forms of conduct.
- In-house policies for handling internal complaints
Undertakings employing more than 20 people must adopt a policy for handling internal complaints about incidents of violence and harassment within the meaning of Articles 3 and 4, which outlines the procedure for receiving and examining such complaints, in a manner which ensures protection of the victim and respect for human dignity.
- Content of the Work Rules and Enterprise-Level Collective Labor Agreements
These policies can form the subject matter of collective bargaining arrangements as part of the Enterprise-Level Collective Labor Agreement or the Work Rules or can be drawn up by the employer after consultation with the representatives of the most representative trade union at the undertaking or the business or with the works council, and where there are no trade unions and works councils, after informing employees and posting the draft policy at the workplace or notifying them, in order to obtain their views. In particular, the provisions on disciplinary offenses, disciplinary proceedings and disciplinary penalties in the context of or following complaints about cases of violence and harassment at work are mandatory provisions of the Work Rules, where such rules exist or there is an obligation to prepare such rules.
- Conferral of a seal
The competent body of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will reward businesses in the public and private sector which stand out for implementing policies on equal treatment and equal opportunities for working women and men and policies to prevent and combat violence and harassment by conferring an ‘Equality Seal’.
- Prohibition of retaliation
termination of the contract or ending, in any manner, of the legal relationship on which employment is based, and any other unfavorable treatment of a person referred to in Article 3, is prohibited and invalid where it constitutes vindictive conduct or retaliation within the meaning of Article 14 of Law 3896/2010 (Government Gazette 207/A) in cases of violence and harassment referred to in Article 4.
- Recourse by legal persons and groupings of persons
Where legal persons and groupings of persons, including trade unions, prove they have a legitimate interest and have the written consent of the person referred to in Article 3 affected by violations hereof, Article 22(2) of Law 3896/2010 (Government Gazette 207/A) applies. The party affected may in all events intervene and/or bring the proceedings to an end.
NB: Until the Enterprise-Level Collective Labor Agreements are concluded or the Work Rules are changed, the employer’s obligation is to take a decision on its own within 3 months from enactment of the law, to put into effect its policy on the provision of information, protection and measures to address / eliminate violence and harassment in the workplace. If it fails to do so, there is a failure to comply with a legal obligation. As far as the content of the policy is concerned (the Ministry of Labor is expected to issue guidelines) it should refer to the basic principles, scope, risk assessment, preventative measures, the complaints procedure (referring to GDPR issues), and provisions on sanctions and penalties .
Transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 into Greek Law.
Chapter I : Articles 24 – 32 These enter into force from 19/6/2021,
Provisions on the work-life balance for parents and carers
- Paternity leave
(14 working days instead of 2) – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Parental leave
“Old” parental leave for raising children: (a) 4 months instead of at least 4 months, (b) until the child reaches the age of 8 instead of 6, (c) for the first 2 months of parental leave OAED is obliged to pay a parental leave allowance to each parent each month equal to the minimum statutory salary as specified from time to time, as well as a proportion of Christmas and Easter bonuses and annual leave allowance based on the said amount instead of unpaid leave for the entire period. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Carer leave
A new form of leave – No payment of remuneration is envisaged.
All employees who have completed 6 months of continuous or successive fixed-term employment contracts are entitled to take carer’s leave as defined in Article 26 to care for another person. Such leave can last up to 5 working days in each calendar year. It is available where that other person needs significant care or support for serious medical reasons, which are confirmed by a medical opinion. No payment of remuneration is envisaged for this form of leave.
- Absence from work due to force majeure
New form of leave – Up to 2 times a year and up to 1 working day each time, a working parent or carer is entitled to be absent from work with pay for reasons of force majeure associated with urgent family issues in the case of illness or accident which makes it necessary for the employee to be there. The illness or accident of the child or person referred to in Article 26 must be confirmed by a medical opinion from a hospital or the attending doctor. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Flexible working arrangements (such as: teleworking, flexible working hours [flextime] or part-time work)
New provisions – Flextime requires clarifications given that there is an obligation to record a specific start and end time for work in the staff table. It may be better utilized when digital card are introduced. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Equality Authority, responsible for discrimination issues
Without prejudice to the competences of the Labor Inspectorate, the Ombudsman has also been appointed as the competent body for issues of discrimination regulated by this Chapter. – Enters into force on 19 June.
CHAPTER II: Articles 33-45. They enter into force on 19 June 2021.
Family protection leave
The provisions of this Chapter apply to all working parents, whether biological, adoptive or foster parents, and presumed mothers who acquire a child through surrogacy, who are employed on a full-time or part-time basis.
- Extension of maternity leave to cover adoption – Replacement of Article 44(2) of Law 4488/2017
This relates to the post-birth portion of maternity leave (9 weeks after childbirth). It used to apply just to surrogate motherhood but has not also been extended to cover adoption. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Leave for medically assisted reproduction methods
Such leave is now extended to the private sector. It had previously only been available to civil servants (from 2019 onwards). – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Special provisions on the granting of special maternity protection benefit – Amendment of Article 142 of Law 3655/2008
Extension of the 6-month period provided by the Hellenic Manpower Employment Agency to the adoptive mother. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Childcare leave (formerly breast-feeding leave, also known as reduced working hours or leave of equal duration for reduced working hours)
It commences on the day after the end of maternity leave or the special maternity protection benefit referred to in Article 36 or parental leave referred to in Article 28. Consequently, if, after the end of her maternity leave (9 weeks after childbirth) a working mother makes use of special maternity protection leave (6 month period offered by OAED) and then parental leave under Article 28 of the new law, the period of post-birth maternity leave is close to 10 to 12 months (depending on whether she chooses to use up all parental leave lasting 4 months or makes use of part of it, possibly 2 months of subsidized leave) with childcare leave (lasting 30 months) starting after that period. There is a clear improvement in the relevant framework for working mothers since if pregnancy leave is added to the said leave (8 weeks before childbirth) and if a continuous childcare leave is granted for the same period of time, the length of time when a working mother is absent from work with pay is around 15 and a half months. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Child school progress report leave
This covers working parents and relates to each child attending primary or secondary school until they reach the age of 18 (and parents of children with special needs, irrespective of the child’s age, who attend a special education structure); it had previously been available until the child reached the age of 16. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Wedding leave
It has now been expressly extended to cover cohabitation agreements (although this had already been interpretatively accepted by the courts). – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Pre-natal examination leave
The relevant provision was contained in Article 9 of Presidential Decree 176/97 – see DEN Law Review 2019, p. 279. There is an obligation for pregnant workers to inform their employer using all reasonable means. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Reduced working hours for parents of children with disabilities (with a corresponding reduction in their pay)
It is now a stand-alone right for every child. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Leave due to illness of a child or other dependent
This is a repetition – consolidation of the existing forms of leave already provided for (Law 1483/1984, National General Collective Labor Agreement 2000 and National General Collective Labor Agreement 2008). – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Leave due to serious illness of children
The substantive provisions replace the content of Article 51(1) of Law 4075/2012 (as amended by Article 45 of Law 4488/2017) and improve the relevant framework for parents of children with severe mental deprivation or Down syndrome or autism by abolishing the age limit of 18 years. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Leave due to children being hospitalized
The substantive provisions replace the content of Article 51(2) of Law 4075/2012, and improve the relevant framework by abolishing the age limit of 18 years and the obligation to first use up all child-rearing parental leave. – Enters into force on 19 June.
- Single parent leave
The age limit of 12 years (which, by way of interpretation – due to the reference to child custody – should be set at 18 years) and the prohibition on the timing of the said leave coinciding with the start or end of the normal annual leave have been abolished. – Enters into force on 19 June.
CHAPTER III: Articles 46-54
Employment rights (Articles 10 and 16 of Directive (EU) 2019/1158). They enter into force on 19 June 2021.
- Prohibition of discrimination
Any unfavorable or less favorable treatment of employees because they requested or received leave or flextime or because they exercised the rights specified in this Part of the Law is prohibited.
- Protection against dismissal and burden of proof
Any termination of the employee’s employment contract is prohibited and invalid where he/she requested or received leave or flextime or because he/she exercised the right specified in this Part of the Law.
- Legal Protection
Any person who considers that he/she has been harmed by failure to comply with this Part, even if the relationship under which the discrimination is alleged to have occurred has expired, is entitled to judicial protection. Legal persons who can demonstrate they have a legitimate interest also have the same right, provided they have the written consent of the party affected.
- Provision of information to employees
Employers are obliged to notify their staff using all reasonable means of all information relating to the said leave and flexitime for parents.
CHAPTER IV: Articles 55-66
Individual labor law provisions.. They enter into force on 19 June 2021.
- Working Time
- In all sectors of work without exception and in all sectors of economic activity, full-time work shall be 40 hours a week, which may be allocated over a 5- or 6-day working week.
- In the context of regulating working time, full-time work shall also mean work 4 days a week.
- Employee breaks
When the daily working time exceeds 4 consecutive hours, a break of at least 15 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes shall be granted.
- Additional work provided by part-time workers
If there is a need for additional work beyond the agreed work, the employee is obliged to provide it, if he or she is in a position to do so and his or her refusal would be contrary to good faith.
- Pay for exceeding working time limits
In enterprises where contractual working hours of up to 40 hours a week are used, the employee may work 5 additional hours a week at the employer’s discretion (extra work). Employees working overtime are entitled to remuneration for each hour of lawful overtime of up to 3 hours a day, or up to 150 hours a year, equal to the hourly wage which is paid augmented by 40%. An increase in permissible overtime from 2 to 3 hours a day to 150 a year. Unlawful overtime – 120% augment. With permission from the Ministry, the maximum annual overtime limit may be increased by 60%.
- Working time arrangements
If there is no trade union or no agreement is reached between the trade union and the employer, the working time system may be implemented following written agreement on a request from the employee (i.e. By individual agreement). In all events, termination of the employment contract on the grounds that the employee did not submit a working time request is prohibited. That period cannot be taken as overtime (not advanced notice) and cannot be deducted from the 50 hours of permissible annual overtime.
- Exceptions to mandatory rest on Sundays and days
Among other things, businesses: and shared services centers for groups of undertakings, particularly in the fields of accounting, human resources, payrolling, computers, regulatory compliance, procurement and so on.
- Limit on annual holiday leave
The relevant provisions on the employer’s obligation to grant leave to the employee up to the end of each calendar year, even if it is not requested, are amended and a relevant subparagraph has been added concerning exhaustion of the annual leave entitlement within the first quarter of the next calendar year.
- Exemption from the obligation to provide work after a notice to terminate
- Once the notice to terminate an employment contract with a notice period is sent, the employer may wholly or partially release the employee from the obligation to provide work. In this case, the employee’s pay shall be paid in full until the expiry of the notice period and the employer shall not be in default in relation to acceptance of that work.
- If the employer exercises the right referred to in paragraph 1, the employee shall be entitled to take up work at a different employer during the notice period, without affecting the results of the termination and the level of compensation payable.
- Extended protection from dismissals
- Termination of an open-ended employment contract by the employer shall be invalid where:
- It is due to discrimination against the employee or retaliation on grounds of sex, race, color, etc. or
- It is done in reaction to exercise of the lawful rights of the employee or
- “Rescission of agreement for no serious ground’:
It is contrary to other special provisions of law, in particular other provisions relating to the invalidity of termination of the contract in the case of dismissal:
- due to the exercise of rights in the case of violence and harassment
as a reaction to the request or the taking of any leave provided for in Article 48 or flextime arrangements for childcare purposes, in accordance with the provisions of Article 31.
- of employees who refuse terms which have been collectively agreed, and their refusal is not contrary to good faith, and of employees who did not submit a request for working time settlement, even though they were requested to do so by the employer.
- of employees exercising the right to disconnect from work
- of a father of a new-born child for up to 6 months from childbirth
- If the employee proves before a court facts capable of supporting the belief that the dismissal took place for one of the reasons in paragraph 1, it is for the employer to prove that the dismissal did not take place for the reason cited.
- If the dismissal is impaired for a reason different from the grounds in paragraph 1 (e.g. financial reasons or improper selection of the dismissed person, etc.) the court shall, instead of any other consequences, on a request from either the employee or the employer, award an additional amount of compensation to the employee, which may not be less than 3 month’s ordinary pay or more than twice the compensation specified by law due to termination at the time of dismissal. The request may be submitted by the employee or the employer at any stage of the proceedings at first or second instance.
- The employee citing a defect in the termination under paragraph 1 is entitled to request that the additional compensation under paragraph 3 be awarded instead of recognizing the invalidity of the termination and the consequences of the invalidity (only the employee in this case may submit a request).
CHAPTER V: Articles 67-72
Provisions on modern forms of work
Teleworking is agreed by the employer and employee upon recruitment or upon amendment of the employment contract.
During teleworking, the employer undertakes the cost incurred by the employee from this form of work, namely the cost of equipment (unless it is agreed that use will be made of the employee’s equipment), telecommunications, equipment maintenance and fault repair. The Minister of Labor shall issue a decision in accordance with the provisions of Article 79(1) setting the minimum amount based on the frequency and duration of teleworking, the supply of equipment or not, and all related modalities.
In addition to the obligations under Presidential Decree 156/1994 (Government Gazette 102/A) within 8 days from the start of teleworking the employer shall be obliged to notify the employee using any reasonable means, including email, of the terms and conditions of work which differ due to teleworking, which shall include the following as a minimum:
- a) The right to disconnect under paragraph 10 (we consider that in practice this will become operational when ERGANI II becomes available, and will take the form of a unilateral declaration made by the employee).
- b) A breakdown of the additional cost which teleworkers periodically incur due to teleworking, and in particular the cost of telecommunications, equipment and maintenance and the manner in which it is covered by the employer.
- c) the equipment necessary for providing telework, which the teleworker has or is provided with by the employer, and the technical support, maintenance and repair procedures for faults in that equipment.
- d) Any restrictions on the use of IT equipment or tools such as the internet and sanctions in the case of breach thereof.
- e) The teleworking readiness agreement, the time limits and the deadlines within which the employee must respond.
- f) The health and safety conditions for teleworking and the procedures for notifying occupational accidents which involve teleworkers.
- g) The obligation to protect professional data and the personal data of teleworkers and the steps and procedures required to discharge that obligation.
Any of the above information which does not relate individually to the employee may be notified by posting it on the company’s intranet or sending the relevant business policy.
The employer must check the employee’s performance in a manner which respects his/her privacy and which is in accordance with the protection of personal data. It is prohibited to use webcams to check employee performance.
The employer must inform teleworkers about the enterprise’s policy in relation to health and safety at work, which must include in particular the specifications for the teleworking area, the rules on use of screens, breaks, and the organizational and technical equipment referred to in paragraph 10 and any other necessary information. Teleworkers are obliged to implement health and safety at work legislation and not to exceed their working hours. When teleworking is provided by teleworkers it shall be presumed that the teleworking area meets the above specifications and that the teleworker complies with the health and safety rules.
Teleworkers are entitled to disconnect from work, which entails their right to fully refrain from providing work and in particular their right not to communicate digitally and not to respond to phone calls, emails or any form of communication outside of working hours and during their periods of lawful leave. Any discrimination against teleworkers because they exercised their right to disconnect is prohibited. The technical and organizational means required to ensure teleworkers are disconnected from digital communication and work tools are mandatory terms of the teleworking agreement and must be agreed by the employer and employee representatives at the undertaking or business. Where there is no agreement, the means referred to in the previous indent must be determined by the employer and notified by it to all employees.
The teleworking hours and the ratio of teleworking and work at the employer’s facilities must be declared on the ERGANI system.
CHAPTER VI: Articles 73-81
They enter into force in the first half of 2022
- Provisions relating to the ERGANI II IT system
The ERGANI IT system referred to in Article I(K)(K.3) of Law 4152/2013 (Government Gazette 107/A) will be upgraded, simplified and digitally transformed into an IT system known as ERGANI II (ERGANI II IT System). The IT System will be accessible via the Single Digital Gateway (gov.gr ΕΨΠ).
- Digital work card (after operation of the ERGANI II system, perhaps on a pilot basis at banks)
Enterprises / employers are obliged to have and operate an electronic system for measuring the working time of their employees, which is directly connected to and interoperable in real time with the ERGANI II IT System.
Working time is measured using a digital work card. Using this system, the ERGANI II IT System records any change in employee working time in real time such as the start and end time of work, breaks, overruns in lawful working hours and all manner of leave.
The Ministers of Labor and Social Affairs and Digital Governance may issue a joint decision regulating all technical issues and modalities relating to the digital work card, technical issues relating to user certification and the protection of personal data. These will include issues relating to the sectors, the size and type of businesses to which the digital work card system applies, which fall within the scope of these provisions, the terms, conditions and all modalities required to give effect to them.
CHAPTER VII: Articles 82-101
Union labor law provisions
Registration of trade unions in an electronic register from 1/1/2022
- Trade union resources Support from employers or political parties is prohibited.
- If a strike is announced by a level one organization it cannot be declared again as a strike by a level two trade union.
- Civil liability for trade unions is introduced for damage done or for obstructing work by force.
- Provision for online voting and provision for the option to participate via online systems (from 1/1/2022)
* The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge as at the time of writing. We have no obligation to update it. We accept no responsibility against any third party who is not a client of the firm and has not signed the terms of our engagement.