By: Christiana Michael
Cyprus has adopted several new employment laws in 2017, including a long-awaited law protecting paternity rights and legislation recognising the concept of surrogacy. In addition, there have been amendments to the redundancy law and new legislation on smoking in the work place.
Paternity leave and benefits
A new Protection of Paternity Law of 2017 (117(I)/2017) was enacted. This law:
- introduces the right to paternity leave;
- regulates its timing and length;
- sets out the procedure for notification of paternity leave;
- prohibits the termination of employment of an employee who is on paternity leave;
- provides rights during and after paternity leave.
The Social Insurance (Amendment) Law of 2017 (115(I)/2017) introduces a paternity allowance equal to 72% of the employee’s weekly salary. It is payable for two consecutive weeks within a period starting from the week of birth or adoption and ending sixteen weeks later.
The new Protection of Maternity (Amendment) Law of 2017 (116(I)/2017) recognises the concept of surrogacy in employment law. A surrogate mother is an employed woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth (following IVF and the transfer of embryos using foreign genetic material) on behalf of a couple wanting a child but unable to have one for medical reasons, as defined in the Medically Assisted Human Reproduction Law of 2015.
Both a female employee who uses a surrogate to have a child and the surrogate mother have the right to maternity leave under the new law. Protection against dismissal is also provided.
The Social Insurance (Amendment) Law of 2017 (115(I)/2017) introduces maternity benefits for women who have used a surrogate mother to have a child, provided that they satisfy the relevant social insurance requirements. A female employee who has a child through a surrogate mother is entitled to maternity benefits for 18 consecutive weeks within the period starting two weeks before the expected week of the birth or the week of the actual birth, whichever she chooses. For surrogate mothers, maternity benefits are payable for 14 consecutive weeks and may start two weeks prior to the expected birth.
The latest amendment to the Termination of Employment (Redundancy Fund) Regulations 1977-1996 provides that where an applicant for redundancy payment proves that there was a reasonable cause for failing to submit his application on time, the deadline for submission is extended for as long as this cause exists, but no longer than 24 months (this is extended from the previous 12-month limit).
Smoking in the workplace
The new Health Protection (Control of Smoking) Law of 2017 (24(I)/2017) explicitly prohibits workers from smoking in work premises. It also imposes significant obligations imposed on tobacco products, manufacturers and sellers in relation to packaging, advertising and licensing.