According to complaints, trial period employment is one of the methods used by enterprises – mainly during busy periods such as the runup to the Christmas holidays – to avoid having to pay social security contributions and in some cases even wages.
The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the Labor Inspection Squad (SEPE) receive frequent calls reporting such employers, while the numerous handwritten signs reading “staff wanted” that never seem to be taken down cannot be justified in a country whose jobless rate has remained above 18 percent in recent years.
Hundreds of complaints have been lodged, focusing mainly on the sectors of retail commerce, food service and security services, among others. They concern work without social security coverage or even without pay, ostensibly for a “trial period,” and with no Christmas bonus or overtime.
Temporary staff are hired without any contracts being signed for periods ranging from three to 10 days, without any declarations to labor or social security authorities. An estimated three out of five such workers are eventually rejected as “not right for the job,” receiving no pay whatsoever.
Another practice that has recently become quite common concerns major retail chains that choose candidate employees who live quite some distance from the workplace. They hire these individuals for shift work, a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon or evening, but force them to keep working in between, or else face the sack. If labor inspectors should drop by, the employers state that these workers are not working but are there because they live too far away to return home between shifts.
There is also the phenomenon of employers paying their permanent staff a Christmas bonus in time to avoid the flagrant crime of skipping this payment, and then demanding employees return it or lose their jobs.