Sabbatical leave preferred to sackings

Piraeus Bank is providing 5,000 of its employees with sabbatical leave of up to three years in a bid to cut labor costs without sending staff members to the unemployment line. Workers who take the leave will be paid 40 percent of their salary in the first and second years and 50 percent in the third year. So far there has been strong interest in the program, which will be extended to a total of 8,000 staff members at a later date, bank sources said.