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The employment relationship

Country specific laws

What laws and regulations govern the employment relationship?

Recent reforms enacted to comply with the requirements of the bailout loans include Laws 3833/2010, 3845/2010, 3863/2010, 3899/2010, 3886/2011, 4024/2011, 4046/2012 (and the Council of Ministers Act (6/2012)), 4052/2012, 4093/2012, 4144/2013, 4254/2014 and 4472/2017. Other principal laws (as amended) include legislation on the following:

  • Termination – Laws 2112/1920 and 3198/1955; and Law 1387/83 on group dismissals.
  • Annual paid leave – Law 539/1945.
  • Non-discrimination – including Law 4443/2016, which incorporates EU Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC into national law; and Law 3896/2010 on the equal treatment of men and women (which replaced Law 3488/2006), which incorporates EU Directive 2006/54/EC into national law.
  • Health and safety at work – Law 1568/1985 and a number of more recent laws and presidential decrees, including Law 3850/2010, which codifies laws on health and safety and health at work.
  • Flexible forms of employment (part time and rotation) – Article 38 of Law 1892/1990, as replaced by Article 2 of Law 3846/2010, as amended by Article 17(3) of Law 3899/2010.
  • Flexible work-time arrangements – Article 41 of Law 1892/1990, as replaced by Article 42 of Law 3986/2011.
  • Working time (including overwork, overtime, prohibition of work on Sundays).

Who do these cover, including categories of worker?

Depending on their content, labour laws cover all white-collar and blue-collar workers in the private sector. Another emerging category, which has been legally formulated in Greece by jurisprudence (Article 2 of Law 2269/1920 on the ratification of the Treaty of Washington), is managing executives.

Special categories of employee are also regulated, such as minors and workers with disabilities.


Are there specific rules regarding employee/contractor classification?

There is a refutable presumption under the law that any agreement for the provision of independent services or work of a fixed or indefinite duration, especially when payment is agreed per unit or in case of teleworking or working from home, is in reality a dependent employment agreement if the work is provided personally, exclusively or principally to the same employer for nine consecutive months.

The general rule under jurisprudence is that a person providing work under a dependent status (dependent employment) is an employer for all purposes under the law and not an independent contractor, irrespective of the contract concluded between the parties involved in the specific relationship. Key factors for such classification include:

  • the nature, duration and location of the work;
  • whether the work is exclusively for one or a number of clients; and
  • whether the work is performed  in person or may be performed using a third party.

Above all, dependent status relies on the obligation to provide work under the instructions, directions and management of an employer, without an employee bearing the risk of the result thereof.


Must an employment contract be in writing?

No. However, under Presidential Decree 156/1994, which harmonised national law with EU Directive 91/533/EEC, even if no employment contract exists in writing, the employer must notify the employee in writing of the minimum terms of his or her employment and have the employee sign a copy acknowledging that he or she was so notified.

A written employment contract is preferable, especially for employees earning above minimum wage, and mandatory for managing executives.

A written employment contract is required by law for part-time or rotation employment or temporary work, or for renewing a fixed-term employment contract; foreign (ie, non-EU) workers require a written employment contract in order to obtain the requisite residence permit to work in Greece.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

All terms stipulated under mandatory labour law and the Civil Code are implied into employment contracts (eg, on termination and severance pay, annual paid leave, maximum work time, overtime and work on rest days). Further, non-mandatory law provisions will be implied to the extent that the employment contract does not regulate the relevant issues.   

Are mandatory arbitration/dispute resolution agreements enforceable?

Law 4046/2012 on the procedure of mandatory arbitration as a means to enforcing collective agreements after failure of the collective bargaining procedure was abolished in 2012. The institution of arbitration on collective bargaining was reintroduced in 2014 (Law 4303/2014), whereby either social partner (employers or employees) has unilateral recourse in the following cases:

  • where the other partner has refused the mediation stage; and
  • after the mediation proposal has been submitted.

Arbitration does not apply to wage-related terms.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

Changes require the consent of the employee, subject to the managerial right of the employer to regulate any issue relating to the organisation and operation of his or her business (Article 652 of the Civil Code). This entitles the employer to determine the kind, place, manner, time and conditions of work, provided such changes are not expressly prohibited by the employment contract and do not constitute an abusive exercise of his or her managerial right. In practice, an employer’s right to unilaterally make changes is often expressly stated in the employment contract.  

There are also specific exemptions by law, such as an employer’s right to change full-time employment to a part-time ‘rotation’ employment under specific terms and for a maximum period of nine months.

Foreign workers

Is a distinction drawn between local and foreign workers?

Under Law 4251/2014 enacting the Code of Immigration and Social Integration and other provisions (as amended by Article 6 Section 5 of Law 4332/2015, which harmonises national law with EU Directive 2011/98/ΕU), third-country (ie, non-EU) nationals must hold a residence permit for work purposes – issued following an employer’s invitation for a specific kind of work under a written employment contract, for a one-year minimum term and for (at least) the compulsory minimum wage – and receive a type D visa (ie, long-term visa) to enter Greece for work purposes. Annual maximum quotas for invited foreign workers are imposed by ministerial decisions, depending on the kind of work and national region.

Subject to annual renewals, a one-year residence permit subject to annual renewals is issued after a foreign worker has submitted all requisite supporting documents and paid a fee. After five years’ lawful residence in Greece, he or she can apply for long-term resident status and, if successful, will be issued with a five-year long-term residence permit, renewable thereafter for five-year periods.

There are also special permits for each category of foreign worker:

  • Highly skilled workers – initial two-year EU Blue Card.
  • Short-term employment for a specific project – no residence permit required, only a type D visa.
  • Seasonal employment – residence permit of up to six months per year.
  • Board members, legal representatives and top managing executives (eg, chief executive officers and general managers) of Greek companies – a two-year residence permit or for the intended period of stay in Greece, subject to three-year renewal.

Nationals from EU member states are entitled to free movement and employment, and must acquire a registration certificate as an EU national working under a dependent employment contract in Greece.  

Under EU and national legislation (Presidential Decrees 219/2000 and 101/2016, which transpose EU Directives 96/71/EEC and 2014/67/EU into national legislation), foreign (ie, non-EU) nationals posted in Greece for a limited period from their permanent workplace in another EU country do not fall under the residence permit requirements.

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