Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure GR-2020-12/667 – Updated – measures in Greece
|Country||Greece , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Open ended, started on 20 March 2020|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery
– Flexibilisation and security
|Author||Penny Georgiadou (INE GSEE)|
|Measure added||16 April 2020 (updated 07 February 2022)|
By virtue of the Legislative Act 20 March 2020 "Urgent measures to address the consequences of the spread of COVID-19, to support the society and entrepreneurship, and to safeguard the smooth operation of the market and public administration" and the Ministerial Decisions 13031/Δ1.4551, 12997/231/2020 & 12998/232/23-3-2020, businesses that have been financially affected as per their Activity Code Numbers (ACN), or their operation has been suspended under a state decision, are able to suspend contracts of employment of part or all of the staff for a continuous period of 45 days, while prohibiting employees’ dismissal.
Then, on 7 April 2020, the Ministry of Labour issued the circular 14676/253/2020, revoking the authorization formerly issued to businesses-employers entailing the power suspend their employees for emergency reasons. (i.e. reasons of public interest). The measure can be applied in case of closure consequent to a State decision or to other companies listed by sector and only to cover extraordinary, urgent, non-deferred needs for reasons of public interest, or to cover extraordinary and non-deferred business needs in general. For the suspension period, the employee's remuneration was at the employers' expense.
Businesses that have been financially affected as per their Activity Code Numbers (ACN), or their operation has been suspended under a state decision, can suspend contracts of employment of part or all of the staff for a continuous period of 45 days, while prohibiting employees’ dismissal. The list of ACNs is dynamic and more ACNs may be included. Should a dismissal take place - regardless of whether that dismissal concerns an employee whose employment has been suspended - it will be considered null and void. The suspension of the employment contracts may be applied for up to one (1) month from 20 March 2020, with the possibility of extension following a joint decision of the Ministers of Finance and Labour and Social Affairs, taking into account the development of the crisis.
Since 7 April 2020, businesses-employers can terminate their employees' contract suspension due to emergencies (i.e., reasons of public interest). Such revocation is applied either in case of closure by an order of a state decision or to affected businesses based on their ACN and only to cover extraordinary, urgent, non-deferred needs for reasons of public interest, or to cover extraordinary and non-deferred business needs in general. The employer shall declare to the ERGANI platform the work provided and the suspension period of 45 days is extended respectively to the days of work provided. The measure will be applied for as long the suspension period lasts.
According to a study issued by the National Institute of Labour and Human Resources -NILHR – (Thematic Bulletin No. 4 - March 2021), the total government’s financial expenditure for the payment of the special-purpose allowance for those employees of which the job contract has been suspended, it is estimated to €2.719 billion, for the period between March 2020 and February 2021 (12 months). The amount of the special-purpose allowance is on average €476 per month and corresponds to 87% of the net national minimum wage, 71% of the net national median wage and 65% of the net national average wage. The monthly wage losses of workers with a suspended employment contract (and for as long as they have been suspended from an employment contract) are estimated to be around 30% to 35%.
There are no official, aggregate data on how many businesses, so far, have applied to receive the financial support by the state of €534 for 30 days, due to suspension of employment contracts, despite the fact that enterprises register for application in the ERGANI system (Ministry of Labour). Similarly, no available, aggregate data on how many applied for the exceptional state benefit of €800, from the beginning of pandemic crisis till now. There some scattered announcements from different stakeholders such as:
The exact number of the financially affected, as per their Activity Code Numbers (ACN), enterprises applied to ERGANI for making use of the measure “suspension of employment contract”, has not been made public, at least so far. As of 21 August 2020 (Ministry of Labour announcement), the total amount paid for the support of employees, freelancers and the self-employed, as well as businesses affected by the pandemic amount to €1,569,589.168. A final announcement (25 August 2020) by the Ministry of Labour stated that the beneficiaries of the financial support, by the state, of €534 for 30 days, due to suspension of employment contracts, amounted to 810,028 employees for the period March-April; 542,244 employees for May; 275,598 employees in tourism for unilateral declarations; 182,839 scientists-freelancers.
|Does not apply to workers||
Companies providing essential services
||Does not apply to citizens|
Company / Companies
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
A tripartite meeting of all national social partners with the Ministry of Labour took place at the beginning of the virus outbreak (10 March 2020). During the meeting, the government briefed the social partners on the situation in whole and on the suggested measures and policies, and all parties were engaged in dialogue. The proposals and opinions of the social partners were taken into consideration, without being binding.
For the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE): Given the urgent nature of the need to address the pandemic in early 2020, the role of social partners was limited to informative meetings by the Government. GSEE strongly believes that tripartism and tripartite social dialogue, which do not function in Greece on a steady institutional basis, can play a key role with strong effect in practice, so as for the measures are in conformity with the primary obligation of the State to respect even in times of (every sort of) crisis human rights’ guarantees such as the principle of equality and the respect of the value of human beings, the right to health, the right to work, the right to social security, freedom of association, the principle of proportionality, the principle of social solidarity as well as the principle of protected public trust towards State Institutions.
For the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV): In early March 2020, even before the planning of the government measures, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) invited its members to adhere strictly to hygiene rules in all work environments and encouraged business to voluntarily adopt preventive measures aimed at the mitigation of the spread of the virus in the workplace and the protection of the employees’ health. Subsequently, the government invited the institutional social partners and informed them about the planned pandemic response measures, at the same time requesting their support as the main institutional bodies of the labour market. The social partners expressed their support to the planned governmental measures, solemnly assuming their share of institutional social responsibility and invited their members to support the governmental pandemic response policies.
Eurofound (2020), Suspension of employment contracts, measure GR-2020-12/667 (measures in Greece), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/GR-2020-12_667.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.