LEGISLATION

Reactions dampen labor law overhaul

reactions-dampen-labor-law-overhaul

The government’s labor reform bill has already generated strong and multiple reactions, even though it has not even gone to public consultation yet, by introducing a formula for a four-day working week but without the reduction of total working hours.

Some of its provisions have already changed course, such as that about the arrangement of working hours by personal agreement between employer and employee, following objections that came even from within the ruling party, especially among its unionists.

Nevertheless, both Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appear determined to bring drastic changes and regulations to personal and collective labor relations, aiming. The overarching aim, they say, is “the modernization of obsolete labor legislation that dates back 40 years, cracking down on illegal labor and the drastic reduction of unpaid overtime, as well as introduction of new rules as a result of technological evolution.”

The introduction of a four-day working week falls within this framework, with the ministry’s competent departments seeking ways to insert the provision in the bill as an option in the arrangement of weekly shifts, and to give it some momentum, have it evolve and constitute the object of negotiations among the social partners in the context of signing collective labor contracts.

The final text of the draft bill is not ready yet, as even regulations that have been completed for some months – as this bill was presented by the previous minister, Yiannis Vroutsis, and approved by the cabinet – are being modified in the wake of the reactions.

Another contentious provision that is being redrafted concerns the so-called “flexible eight-hour shift.” According to the minister’s formal commitments, the final text will maintain the existing status, providing the option to have the work week arranged, with a 10-hour working day without any additional payment for a period and a slow day or a day off at another point of time following a collective agreement.

However it will also provide for a possible personal agreement, but only on the initiative of the employee. Government sources tell Kathimerini that the final text maintains intact the existing rules, while adding the option of flexibility for employees.