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Article | Global News Briefs

Greece: Law to create a more flexible employment environment approved

Health and Benefits|Total Rewards|Future of Work
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By Michael Zeler | July 14, 2021

New controversial labor law brings extensive changes to support flexible work hours, loosen overtime rules and allow teleworkers to disconnect.

Employer Action Code: Act

A major labor reform bill, recently approved by Parliament, aims to replace the current eight-hour working day with flexible working hours and loosen the rules on overtime, among other things. The bill will also transpose the requirements of the EU Directive on Work-Life Balance as well as two International Labor Organization conventions on harassment, health and security. Most provisions will take immediate effect after publication of the law in the government Gazette or within one to two months of publication.

Key details

Notable changes introduced by the law include:

  • Employees will be able to request to work up to 10 hours a day, offset by fewer hours or time off on another day, so long as their workweek remains 40 hours.
  • Maximum annual overtime will increase to 150 hours (currently 120 hours); part-time employees will also be eligible for overtime work (for daily work over eight hours).
  • Teleworking employees will have the right to disconnect, i.e., not check emails or undertake any work outside of normal working hours.
  • Employer-paid paternity leave will increase from two to 14 working days (higher than the minimum of 10 days required by the EU Directive). New fathers will be protected against dismissal without “good reason” for the first six months after the birth of the child.
  • Both parents will be entitled to pay replacement benefits from social security, equal to the minimum wage, for the first two months of parental leave; the total combined duration of parental leave will remain four months.
  • Employees who are parents or caregivers will have the right to request flexible work arrangements, such as telework and flexible working time, or to switch to part-time work.
  • Employees must take at least half of their leave between May 1 and September 30 but will be allowed to carry forward part of their annual leave to March 31 of the following year; currently all annual leave must be taken in the same year.
  • From January 1, 2022, physical overtime record books will be replaced by digital work cards to better monitor working time.

Employer implications

The law is intended to create a more flexible regulatory framework for employment, but some elements are controversial, such as the option for employees to work longer days without entitlement to overtime pay in return for shorter working time other days of the week. The changes are, in any event, extensive and should be closely reviewed by employers in Greece to ensure that corporate policies and practices comply with the new standards.

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