The Greek economy is 47th largest in the world and has a nominal GDP of $195 billion per annum. The country’s economy is based on the service and industrial sectors which contribute nearly 83% and 14% respectively to the GDP. Greece is a member of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Principal language: Greek
Government: Parliamentary Representative Democratic Republic
Capital City: Athens
Major Cities: Thessaloniki, Pátrai, Piraeus, Larissa
Employment contracts are not required to be in writing except for temporary and part-time employees and the renewal of definite-term employment agreements. Employers must provide the following details on employment contracts:
- Information regarding the contracting parties
- Duration of the contract
- Location of work and description of the job
- Annual leave entitlement
- Working hours
- Severance and notice obligations
- The governing collective labor agreement
- Applicable bonuses and benefits
Employment contracts must be provided within:
- 2 months of commencing work to employees with indefinite employment agreements
- 15 days of commencing work to part-time employees
- 5 days to employees with fixed-term agreements
The regular work schedule in Greece is 40 hours per week comprising 5 working days. A 6-day workweek of a maximum 48 hours can be agreed to in a contract between employees and employers. Sunday is considered a mandatory off day. Employees who work for 40 hours per week can also work for 5 extra hours a week at the employer’s discretion. These additional hours are compensated at 120% of regular hourly wages and don’t constitute overtime.
Employees can take a rest period of 11 hours between 2 consecutive workdays and of 24 hours in a week, normally on Sunday. A break of 15 minutes can be taken if the workday exceeds 6 hours.
Work done beyond 45 hours in a week is considered overtime. Overtime cannot be more than 3 hours in a day. Authorized overtime of up to 120 hours in a year is compensated at 140% premium over regular hourly wages while overtime beyond 120 hours is compensated at 160% premium of normal hourly wages. Employees can work additional 2 hours in a day during the periods of increased business activities and can choose to take equal hours of rest instead of compensation. Employees should not work more than 48 hours in a week on an average during a 4-month period.
The following 14 national holidays are observed in Greece:
- Jan. 1: New Year's Day
- Jan. 6: Epiphany
- Shrove Monday
- March 25: Independence Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- May 1: Labor Day
- Orthodox Whit Sunday
- Orthodox Whit Monday
- Aug. 15: Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- Oct. 28: National Day
- Dec. 25: Christmas
- Dec. 26: Boxing Day
Employees who work on a national holiday are entitled to 175% of mandatory minimum day’s pay. If a national holiday falls on a weekend, it is not carried over.
Employees qualify for vacation after working for 12 months with the same employer. Those who work for 5 days in a week get 20 days of annual leave while those who work for 6 days in a week get 24 days. The annual leave is increased by 1 in every year of employment including the first year, up to 22 days for employees who work for 5 days a week and up to 26 days for those who work for 6 days a week. Employees in their first year of employment earn annually according to the time worked.
Insured female employees who have made contributions for at least 200 days to the social security are entitled to 8 weeks of maternity leave before childbirth and 9 weeks after it at 50% pay. They are also entitled to ‘protection for maternity’ leave for a maximum 6 months after maternity leave. If women are not insured but their husbands are, the compensation is given to husbands. Female employees are entitled to a reduction of 1 hour in their daily work hours for 30 months. Otherwise, a reduction of 2 hours in daily work hours can be taken for the initial 12 months and a reduction of 1 hour for the next 6 months.
Fathers can take 2 days’ of paid leave after childbirth and can work reduced hours without any reduction in pay to care for the child. Working fathers can use a part of maternity leave in case the mother works and doesn’t use her leave.
Employees who are rendered incapable of working due to disability are entitled to compensation based on their length of employment. The insured employees must have made at least 120 days of contributions (100 days in case of construction) annually before the incapacity began or 100 days of contributions in the previous 15 months excluding the last quarter. The benefit is given for 182 to 720 days based on the employees’ contribution period. Employees are entitled to 50% pay after a waiting period of 3 days. If insured employees have worked with the same employer for at least a year, the employer is required to pay the difference between the employees’ monthly earnings and the cash benefit. In case the employment length is less than 1 year, the employer must pay the difference for 2 weeks.
Employees with children under the age of 16 can take periodic leaves during workdays of up to 4 days in a year to talk with their children’s teachers. The employer pays for the leave. Full-time employees can take up to 6 days of unpaid parental leave in a year to care for a sick child who is below the age of 16. The leave allotment is increased to 8 days if an employee has 2 children and to 14 days for 3 or more children. Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least a year are also entitled to 4 months of unpaid parental leave until the child reaches the age of 6.
Pension and Social Security
Employees are entitled to the old-age pension when they reach 67 years where the benefits are based on the pensionable earnings and the length of coverage. Many employers evade their social security responsibilities and to counter this problem Law 4225/2014 was enacted to improve the situation related to uninsured and undeclared employment. The law provides:
- A substantial increase in penalties if the work is declared only to the Ministry of Labor and not to the relevant social security organization
- The responsibility of social security authorities to make sure that the social security contributions were paid by the companies
- That a special file is maintained at the workplace to register work hours if any changes have been carried out and made available to authorities
Employees who have worked for a minimum of 50 days during the past 15 months are usually eligible for free health and dental care through social security.
Employees who receive insurance coverage by IKA, Greece’s largest insurance carrier, and can’t work due to an occupational illness or injury are entitled to payments from the insurer during the period of recovery. If employees get injured due to their own negligence, they don’t receive any benefit from the insurer but receive the compensation from the employer. A workplace injury should be reported within 5 days. The minimum criteria to qualify for benefits related to occupational disease are set by law for each disease. The Health Commission of the Social Insurance Institute sets guidelines to determine eligibility in certain cases.
Temporary disability compensation is equal to 50% of daily wages and is paid after a waiting period of 3 days. If the insured has worked with the same employer for a minimum of 1 year, the employer is required to pay the difference between the cash benefit and the employee's income for a month. If the duration of employment is less than a year, the employer pays the difference for 2 weeks.
How GPS can Help
With our Global PEO/Employer of Record services, companies can expand into Greece and hire their employees without having to establish a branch office or subsidiary in Greece.
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