“Unemployment police”: fines of 10,000 euros, sanctions for those who refuse to work

The so-called “unemployment police”, called upon to monitor the provisions of the new “criminal code for the unemployed”, promises violators of fines of up to 10,000 euros and exclusion from the register of unemployed.

In fact, this is the last attempt by the conservative neo-liberal government not only to reduce the number of unemployed in official statistics, but also to punish them and collect a large bribe from them if they do not accept the offered job.

The punitive functions of the law will be put into effect if the unemployed refuses to work three timesoffered by an unemployment consultant in DYPA/OADE, State Employment Agency.

More than a year after the adoption of the relevant law by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Kostis Hatzidakis, a new criminal code for the unemployed was reportedly signed by the former leader OAED (now DYPA) Spyros Protopsaltis.

The Criminal Code provides, inter alia, that the unemployed person is excluded from the official register and will have to return unemployment benefits as “unreasonably paid”.

The provisions of the Criminal Code appeared on the day when the Greek Statistical Office ELSTAT announced that the number of unemployed people in August reached 569,609, while in the same month about 939,361 people were registered in the OAED registers.

The Criminal Code for the unemployed provides:

  • Removal from the register for two years in in case of refusal of three vacancieswhich correspond to the digital individual action plan of the unemployed person.
  • Removal from the register for six months and suspension of benefits in case of refusal to participate in continuing professional education or training activities.
  • Removal from the register for six months when opting out of drawing up a digital individual action plan in cooperation with an employment consultant.
  • Removal from the register for six months in the event that a citizen who, declaring himself unemployed, works either under a contract, or in an employment relationship, or as an individual entrepreneur.
  • The same applies to anyone who starts workingwithout reporting it to DYPA.

When second violation within 12 months he loses the right to re-register in the DYPA register for two years. In this case all benefits paid will be collected as overpaid and an administrative fine will be imposed.

Unemployment benefits in Greece

Unemployment benefit rises up to 436 euros per month from May 1, 2022 (previously 399 euros) for a period of not more than one year for the entire working career, but not more than 18 months in special circumstances. The amount of the benefit depends on the age of the applicant, the length of service and the last salary of the unemployed person. Unemployment benefits also include social contributions (insurance and pension fund).

The long-term unemployed get nothing however, they may receive a “minimum guaranteed income” of aboutt 200 euros (for a family with one person) up to 500 euros maximum (large families with minor children) per month if they do not have any property, including a car or a house.

Note that the penalty of removing an unemployed person from the OAED register also means excluding him from “training programs”. We remind you that the minimum wage from 1 May is 713 euros.

Union backlash

In a statement, the OAED Workers’ Federation made the matter public, saying that it was presented by DYPA chief S. Protopsaltis to the OAED/DYPA board on 27 September. This was the second time that a “penal code for the unemployed” had been proposed, as it had been rejected the first time. However, on September 27, a representative of the federation was not invited to the meeting.

It is the federation that has called the whole matter “unemployment police” and is threatening strikes as well as legal remedies against “this absurd penal code,” as she stressed.

Implementation of the “Work Again” law, which does not offer a jobproposes a massive removal of the unemployed for up to 2 years from the OAED registries, turning the civil service into a “police for the unemployed,” the federation said in a statement.

On social networks, the Greeks are outraged by the criminal code, which will punish the unemployed with a fine of up to 10,000 euros, and are reminded of the “jungle” in the country’s labor market, where the hourly wage is 3 euros. They also point to part-time contracts that are actually full-time jobs, often unpaid overtime, and other shortcomings since 2010, when the economic crisis hit.

Many wonder what will happen if the unemployed are offered a job at a distance, say, 50 km from their home, or a job that is much lower than their qualifications and education.

They all agree that the Criminal Code has only one goal: to reduce the number of unemployed in the country in documents, but not in reality.

PS It is worth recalling the similar but also controversial German model of social unemployment HARZ IV, where in November 2019 the Federal Constitutional Court banned controversial hard sanctions against welfare recipients. It prohibited total cuts in benefits and ruled that a 30 percent cut was only allowed under certain conditions, as such sanctions jeopardize the minimum standard of living for benefit seekers.

It is also worth noting that such a scheme, implemented for law-abiding workers in Germany, does not really work, especially in the case of economic migrants who are in no hurry to allow state officials into their environment.

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