More flexibility needed in labour laws

Rigid labor laws in Greece are hurting the job market as unemployment rates rise to record highs, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Christopher Pissarides.

Speaking in Athens last week, Pissarides said that employees in Greece are among the most protected in countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which acts as a deterrent to employers interested in boosting their payroll.

?When an employer knows that it is difficult to fire an employee, then he won?t hire the worker when there is a need to do so,? he said. ?Only in France, Spain, Portugal and Turkey are there comparative limitations,? he said.

?Reforms introduced in 2003 [in Greece] partly helped this situation.?

According to figures from the the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), unemployment jumped to a record 14.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, from 12.4 percent in the third quarter, with nearly 100,000 people having lost their jobs in the three-month period.

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