This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Employment & Labour Law laws and regulations applicable in Greece.
Does an employer need a reason in order to lawfully terminate an employment relationship? If so, describe what reasons are lawful?
According to the Greek employment law (ACT No 2112/1920 and 3198/55), an employment contractcan be lawfully and validly terminated at any time without cause.
What, if any, additional considerations apply if large numbers of dismissals (redundancies) are planned?
According to the legislative framework in Greece (ACT No 1387/1983 as currently enforced), dismissals may occur following specific limitations which depend on the company size which is going to proceed with the dismissals. Regarding an establishment with 20 to 150 employees up to 6 employees per month may be dismissed, while businesses whose staff exceeds 150 individuals, can dismiss 5% of their workforce and in any event no more than 30 employees. In case of exceeding those limitations, all dismissals are classified as collective dismissals, thus they are prohibited.
Apart from the general provisions regulating the termination of any open-ended employment contract such as written notice and severance payment, additionally there is a specific procedure to be followed by the employer in order to carry out properly the dismissals, which is the obligation of consultation with the workers’ representatives prior to the implementation of any of the proposed dismissals. Now collective redundancies, after consultations have failed, are carried out without the approval of the administration. Τhe role of the Supreme Labor Council is limited to determine whether the employer has fulfilled all his/her obligations to consult with the workers’ representatives and to notify the authorities.
What, if any, additional considerations apply if a worker’s employment is terminated in the context of a business sale?
There are no additional considerations if a worker’s employment is terminated in the context of a business sale provided that prior consultation/deliberation has taken place according to Presidential Decree 240/2006.
What, if any, is the minimum notice period to terminate employment?
The employer is granted with the additional option (not obligation) to provide notice to the employee in written about the imminent termination of indefinite term employment contract. The notice period depends on the years of continuous employment with the same employer and the minimum notice period is 1 month in case of up to 12 months to 2 years of continuous employment with the same employer. In such event the severance payment is reduced to half.
Is it possible to pay monies out to a worker to end the employment relationship instead of giving notice?
Severance payment is mandatory in almost every case. Pursuant to the Greek Labor Legislation (ACT No 3198/1955, 2112/1920, as amended and enforced, and Royal decree 16/18.7.1920), an indefinite term employment contract shall be terminated lawfully and validly at any time without warning. The total amount of the dismissal compensation, depends on the preoccupation time of the employee. In case of redundancy with prior notification the employer is obliged to pay half (1/2) of the compensation to the employee.
Can an employer require a worker to be on garden leave, that is, continue to employ and pay a worker during his notice period but require him to say at home and not participate in any work?
Ιn Greek Labor Legislation there is no provision of garden leave. An employer can not require a worker to be on a garden leave unless the employee agree to the said leave.
Does an employer have to follow a prescribed procedure to achieve an effective termination of the employment relationship? If yes, describe the requirements of that procedure or procedures.
Pursuant to the Greek Labor Legislation (ACT No 3198/1955, 2112/1920, as amended and enforced, and Royal decree 16/18.7.1920), an indefinite term employment contractshall be terminated lawfully and validly at any time, provided that the following conditions are observed: a) written notice for the termination of the employment contract is furnished directly to the employee at the day the dismissal occurs and b) compensation / severance payment is made.
If the employer does not follow any prescribed procedure as described in response to question 7, what are the consequences for the employer?
A dismissal that occurs without the simultaneous severance payment or the issuing of a written notification is considered null and void. In such case the employer bears liability for salary payment to the employee, taking into consideration that the employment agreement is still considered to be in effect.
How, if at all, are collective agreements relevant to the termination of employment?
Collective agreements may contain terms relating to the conclusion or termination of the employment contract. With collective agreements, may be imposed restrictions on the exercise of the right of termination beyond what is required by the law, such as the provision of additional remuneration besides the legal (minimum) compensations, stipulated by law, or making the validity of the dismissal dependent on specific reasons. Collective agreements may provide for an age limit upon completion of which the employment contract shall be automatically terminated.Τhe terms of the collective agreements should not reduce the protection afforded by labor laws for the termination of employment contracts which set minimum protection limits for employees.
Does the employer have to obtain the permission of or inform a third party (eg local labour authorities or court) before being able to validly terminate the employment relationship? If yes, what are the sanctions for breach of this requirement?
The employer does not have to obtain the permission of a third party before being able to validly terminate the employment relationship. In collective dismissals onlythere is a specific procedure to be followed by the employer, which is the obligation of consultation with the workers’ representatives prior to the implementation of any of the proposed dismissals.
What protection from discrimination or harassment are workers entitled to in respect of the termination of employment?
The principle of equal treatment is important when the employer terminate the employment contract and especially in dismissals forrestructuring purposes. In this case the employer may apply social and economic criteria to choose the right persons for dismissal due to the restructuring plan.Under the Greek Labor law, when a restructuring program takes place and an employment contract must be terminated, the employer (when some of his employees have the same professional skills, efficiency and evaluation) is obliged to take also under consideration the employee’s social and family obligations, age and seniority.Therefore, among employees that are equally skilled and efficient, the employer is obliged to dismiss the one who has less family liabilities (i.e. wife, children etc).The employee who has suffered discrimination can file a lawsuit for breach of the principle of equal treatmentand also can claim compensation for property damage and non-material damage.
What are the possible consequences for the employer if a worker has suffered discrimination or harassment in the context of termination of employment?
Τhe termination of employment contract in breach of the principle of equal treatment is invalid.Τhe employer who violated the prohibition of discrimination at the termination of the employment contract is subject to criminal and administration sanctions.
Are any categories of worker (for example, fixed-term workers or workers on family leave) entitled to specific protection, other than protection from discrimination or harassment, on the termination of employment?
The dismissal of the employment contract is forbidden during the period of annual leave.
The dismissal of the employment relationship for legal union actionis prohibited by law. The dismissal of Labor Union’s Board members and the members of the Temporary Administration is prohibited by law and only for specific reasons stipulated (ACT No 1264/1982 – Article 14 par.10) the employer may terminate their employment relationship.
The article 15 of the ACT No 1483/1984 as amended, clearly states that the employer is prohibited from terminating the contract of any employee, who is pregnant, not only for the duration of the pregnancy, but also within 18 months following the birth, unless there is a significant reason which justifies the termination.Likewise for the militant employees.
Are workers who have made disclosures in the public interest (whistleblowers) entitled to any special protection from termination of employment?
Ιn Greek Labor Legislation there is no provision of protection of whistleblowers. Τhe dismissal of an employee pursuing the right of his opinion to disclose his employer’s wrongdoing could be considered to constitute unfair dismissal (unfair dismissal for revenge against the employee for exercising his right).
What financial compensation is required under law or custom to terminate the employment relationship? How do employers usually decide how much compensation is to be paid?
As far as the dismissal compensation is concerned, it should be clarified that this kind of compensation should be calculated based on the regular salary granted to the employee during the last month of the employment contract, before their dismissal. The total amount of the dismissal compensation, depends on the preoccupation time of the employee. In case of redundancy with prior notification the employer is obliged to pay half (1/2) of the compensation to the employee.
Can an employer reach agreement with a worker on the termination of employment in which the employee validly waives his rights in return for a payment? If yes, describe any limitations that apply.
Employee’s decision to accept the validity of dismissal by signing an agreement and waive the right to contest the validity of it, is valid according to Greek law. In cases where the termination of an employment relationship is mutually agreed with the employee, a resignation agreement is mutually signed.The company pays compensation package higher than the legal remuneration due to termination of employment relationship. This practice serves any legal requirements and it also prevents the employee to raise any future claims in respect to the termination of his employment relationship. Alternatively the company could also choose to terminate the contract upon signing a private agreement with the employee in which the employee acknowledges his dismissal as valid and waives his right to challenge it before the Courts. This way he can receive both the compensation and the unemployment benefit provided by the state.
But any agreement that results in a restriction of the rights of the employee provided for by public order rules is void. For example the agreement that the employee will be fired without notice or without compensation or with reduced compensation is void.
Is it possible to restrict a worker from working for competitors after the termination of employment? If yes, describe any relevant requirements or limitations.
The employee has the obligation to omit competing practices during the employment relationship and after the termination of employment if there is a specific provision in the employment contract.
Can an employer require a worker to keep information relating to the employer confidential after the termination of employment?
The employee has the obligation of confidentiality during the employment relationship and after the termination of employment.
Are employers obliged to provide references to new employers if these are requested?
Τhe employer is not obliged to provide references to new employers if these are requested but he is obliged to provide service certificate.
What, in your opinion, are the most common difficulties faced by employers when terminating employment and how do you consider employers can mitigate these?
In our jurisdiction there is a heavy regulated and costly procedure concerning the termination of employment (written notice at the day the dismissal and severance payment). In the event of illegal dismissal there is a high finance burden (the employer should pay unpaid salaries from the day of illegal dismissal until its remedy). The employers can mitigate these difficulties with proactive planning of such termination.
Are any legal changes planned that are likely to impact on the way employers approach termination of employment? If so, please describe what impact you foresee from such changes and how employers can prepare for them?
There are not planned so far any legal changes that are likely to impact on the way employers in our jurisdiction approach termination of employment.
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