ECONOMY

‘10 Commandments’ for better labor relations

The Labor Inspection Department has been functioning in its present form since 2000. Supported by the considerable experience of its staff, with new vision and prospects, it strives to minimize those cases that might highlight mistakes or omissions in the quality of labor relations. A continuation of improvements in the field of labor relations requires listing the basic factors at play, which come under two categories: The first includes the workplaces, equipment and production processes, and the second the individuals involved, employers and employees. A basic aim of the department is the best possible provision of information to citizens through telephone and on-the-spot service, printed and electronic means (www.ypergka.gr), and the holding of conferences focusing on specific branches of economic activity or groups of workers and employers. Nevertheless, there are certain areas of labor legislation that ensure only minimal protection for working people, though considered fundamental. They are presented in a «10 Commandments» form for labor relations below, as they are the areas where the biggest gaps in information are found: 1. Careful reading before signature of any individual work contract, ensuring it contains only legal terms agreed upon verbally in negotiation. 2. The level of pay must be in agreement with the Collective Labor Pact or arbitration rulings under which each employee is hired. Those working overtime beyond the standard 40 hours a week are entitled to a 50 percent bonus on the hourly work rate for up to 120 overtime hours a year, and a 75 percent bonus on any hours beyond that. In any case in which a firm has not obtained the required license for employing workers overtime, the hourly wage rate increment beyond the standard 40 hours is raised to 150 percent. 3. Work on Sundays and public holidays is paid 75 percent extra, while nighttime work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is paid 25 percent extra. In case nighttime work coincides with a Sunday or public holiday, the increment is 100 percent. 4. Staff lists and work programs must contain work hour schedules and rest days, and have to be submitted to the Labor Inspection Department and be well displayed in the work place. 5. Pay must be disbursed at regular dates and be accompanied by analytic slips for each employee, even if it amounts to more than the legal level. Slips must be read carefully to ensure they contain all benefits (family, hazardous work) and overtime pay. 6. Employees laid off two months after being hired are entitled to compensation. 7. Employees are entitled to paid leave during their first year with any employer equal to two days for each month worked. The number of annual leave days depends on the number of years worked with the same employer and whether the employee works five or six days a week. Those with at least 10 years with the same employer or 12 years in total with all employers are entitled to paid leave of 25 work days if they work five days a week and 30 days if they work six days a week. Pay for the month of leave and the holiday bonuses are paid at the start of the leave period. 8. Women are entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave regardless of how long they have worked with their employer and their nationality, race or religion. The total duration of such leave is 17 weeks, of which eight weeks are granted as pregnancy leave and the remaining nine as maternity leave. Maternity leave is compulsory, counts as time worked and, therefore, does not disrupt the continuity of a labor contract. 9. Underage workers (15-18) are always entitled to the unskilled workers’ full daily rate and are not allowed to be employed in work hazardous to their physical and mental health. Such types of work are listed in a recent decision by the Labor Ministry (No. 130867/June 26, 2003). 10. Employees are obliged to provide the agreed upon work with diligence, according to the employers’ instructions, to avoid causing problems without reason during the performance of their duties, to observe the work schedule and, when they are absent for any reason, to directly notify their employer and produce a doctor’s note in case of illness. The above «10 Commandments» set the Labor Inspection Department’s informative, consultative and mediatory functions, above its main task of control and proper application of the provisions of labor legislation. (1) Chronis Polychroniou is special secretary of the Labor Inspection Department.