Labor Minister of Greece Kostis Khattsidakis submitted today (4/06) to parliament a bill that will make big changes in labor relations. In fact, we are talking about cardinal changes in the country’s labor code.
For the opposition, the introduction of the bill marks the beginning of a “pitched battle” against the law, as the reaction against the bill in the coming days will be accompanied by large-scale strikes.
However, the government has already canceled two clauses of the bill that the opposition called unfair to workers regarding severance pay. One concerns the payment within four months after the termination of the contract, and the other concerns the employer’s ability to reduce 10% of the compensation.
Seven big changes
1. Organization of working hours
An employee can work part-time for family, educational or other reasons only of his own free will and after a written agreement with the employer. This means that it can run a maximum of 10 hours a day at no additional charge, depending on the needs of the business. The extra hours will be kept in the “time bank” and will be “returned” to it within six months, in the form of part-time work, break days or holidays. Under such a scheme, an employee can provide four days a week without reducing wages. In addition, there is a system of protection, according to which he cannot be fired if he rejects the employer’s offer of a settlement agreement.
If an employment contract is terminated before its expiration, the employee is compensated for overtime work. On the other hand, he will have a loss of income, since he will not be paid overtime. Unions have expressed concern that the worker is a weak link and will be forced to agree to flexible working hours under threat of dismissal, as they point out.
2. Digital Worksheet: How It Will Work in Practice
The employee will “click” the card at the beginning and at the end of their work. The card will be connected directly to the ERGANI II online system, and thus exceeding the statutory schedule, overtime, will be recorded in real time. Thus, the corresponding consequences will immediately occur – requirements for additional remuneration from the employee and sanctions against the employer. The digital map application will also be available via a mobile phone so that the employee can check the record of their overtime work.
3. Raising the overtime ceiling
The maximum overtime limit has been increased to 150 hours per year from the current 96 hours in industry and 120 hours in other industries. Overtime work will be verified using a digital card.
4. What changes in the law on dismissals
The bill provides for additional compensation as an alternative to mandatory re-employment for employees in the event that their dismissal is invalidated by the court, mainly for economic and technical reasons such as layoffs or company closures.
5. In what additional cases is dismissal prohibited?
The Labor Bill expands the list of cases of invalid dismissal. Dismissals for the exercise of rights in the event of violence and harassment, the father of a newborn child, employees who received or requested any leave, employees who refused to agree to other conditions of work, employees performing work remotely who exercised the right to disconnect will be considered invalid.
6. What are the changes in trade union legislation
Security personnel are envisaged to ensure that a minimum (33%) of services are provided in critical sectors (health, transport, harvesting) during strikes at DEKO. A trade union calling a strike is obliged to defend the right of workers who do not participate in it to come and leave work freely and without hindrance, without using physical or psychological violence against them. Otherwise, the strike can be stopped.
A condition for collective bargaining and a strike is the registration of trade unions and employers’ organizations in the electronic register, for reasons of security. An electronic voting system is being introduced. From now on, the dismissal of union activists will be allowed for acts of violence against a colleague or sexual harassment.
7. What are the changes in parental leave
Introduced 14 days of parental leave with wages, which will be provided closer to the date of birth of the child, and four months parental leave for both parents with subsidies from the OAED. At the same time, the young father is protected from dismissal for two months after giving birth. The leave will be provided to working parents, foster parents, mothers who have a child as a result of surrogacy, and child caregivers who work in the private and public sectors.
Opposition violent reaction
The reaction to the new law is extremely fierce. In a TV interview, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras described the bill as a Thatcher program pulled out of mothballs and asked: “If growth ultimately concerns a few business groups, not the vast majority of Greek society, if it does not concern small and medium-sized enterprises, if it is not for a worker who will lose eight hours and work 10 hours with unpaid overtime, if it does not concern a merchant who does not have liquidity and access to banks, then who cares? “
KINAL President Fofi Gennimata said yesterday that the bill would lead to a law of the jungle by abolishing the eight-hour period and making slave labor the norm.
KKE parliamentary spokesman Nikos Karathanassopoulos described the bill as “extravagant” and added that “it is the culmination of a timeless operation to legalize the regulation of working hours and, in effect, abolish what remains of labor rights.”
The combined trade union confederation of Greece has reportedly already announced a major nationwide strike on June 10, in which hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part across the country.