The government yesterday presented legislation allowing for the hiring of about 20,000 part-time employees in the broader public sector and local governments within 2004. The employees will be selected from «vulnerable» sectors of the population, such as the unemployed, mothers with young children, people with many children, and the disabled. According to the bill presented by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, these people will work for 20 hours per week for up to 18 months. The part-time workers will be employed in social services, such as in programs providing care for the aged at home, the guarding of school buildings, crossing guards, civil defense, cultural programs and EU-funded social programs. Also, the government yesterday sent to the Council of State the presidential decree regarding the permanent hiring of people employed by the public sector on fixed-term contracts. The country’s highest court will rule whether the legislation is in keeping with the constitution and will thereby determine the fate of thousands of people. The New Democracy party promised ahead of the March 7 elections that it would hire permanently some 230,000 people doing fixed-contract work in the public sector. It was not clear how many yesterday’s decree would cover. Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos is to draw up a second presidential decree for fixed-contract workers in the private sector and listed state utilities. The bill on part-time workers presented to Parliament yesterday is aimed at a rational distribution of such employees and rules out any involvement by middlemen, Pavlopoulos said. The agency that needs employees will itself hire part-time workers. The number of people to be employed will be determined annually through operational plans that will set out the agency’s needs in detail. This plan will be approved of by a three-member committee comprising the deputy ministers of interior, labor, economy and finance. The committee will be responsible for securing and distributing funding and the number of people to be hired.