Greek Labour Min Unveils Draft Bill on Working Hours Flexibility

ATHENS — Labour and Social Affairs Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Wednesday unveiled his ministry's draft legislation on labour issues, which has been sharply criticised by opposition parties, during an online press briefing.

Hatzidakis said the bill, entitled "For the Protection of Labour", aims to increase competitiveness while workers participate in the benefits of growth and creation of new jobs, adding that it was in line with European best practices and groundbreaking labour legislation.

He highlighted the fact that the bill explicitly guarantees the eight-hour work day, and a five-day or 40-hour working week, while making it impossible to dismiss an employee for refusing flexible working hours and expanding the list of cases where dismissal was not permitted.

Other innovations include a longer paternity leave, with 14 days paid leave instead of 10, protection of new fathers from dismissal for six months after birth and fewer disincentives for the hiring of women. It also allows four months parental leave for each parent, with employment agency OAED subsidies for two months.

The draft bill will introduce measures such as a digital labour card, designed to avert contribution evasion and unfair competition with businesses that uphold the law, reduce bureaucracy with abolition of the overtime book and other reports for businesses that adopt the digital card. The project will be funded by the Recovery Fund and implemented gradually, starting with big businesses.

The bill also envisages changes to the Labour Inspectorate, which will be become an independent adminstrative authority with its own financial resources.

Issues addressed by the draft legislation include health and safety at work, violence and harassment at work, a work-life balance, remote online work, working hours flexibility, breaks, overtime and work on Sundays, protection from dismissal, digital systems for monitoring the labour market and measures for transparency in the trade union movement.

"New labour bill protects the workers"

The new labour bill protects workers, strengthens their rights [and] upgrades the Labour Inspectorate, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pointed out on Wednesday, adding that it "promotes a balance between work and family life. It corrects the injustices of the past and, in short, it gives powers to the worker," he said in a post on Twitter.


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