Hire in Greece
Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in Greece.
Key Country Facts
Greece lies at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa and is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, where the President of Greece is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Greece is the head of government within a multi-party system. With an ongoing sovereign debt crisis, doing business in Greece has its challenges. Taxation is not business-friendly and corruption persists at many levels. However, there are potential advantages, including a highly educated and skilled workforce and low labour costs, combined with strong entrepreneurial tradition.
Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The total land area of Greece is 131,957 km2, one-fifth of which is made up of the Greek islands.
The climate of Greece is primarily Mediterranean, featuring mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. This climate occurs at all coastal locations. The mountainous areas of Northwestern Greece, and the mountainous central parts of Peloponnese, feature an Alpine climate with heavy snowfalls.
Greece is widely considered to be the cradle of Western culture and democracy. Modern democracies owe a debt to Greek beliefs in government by the people, trial by jury, and equality under the law. Greece’s cultural heritage can be described as largely based on a skillful reshaping of elements from Ancient Greek imagination, Byzantine glories and European Modernity that form a cosmopolitan spirit of modern Hellenism.
The Greek Constitution recognizes Eastern Orthodoxy as the ‘prevailing’ faith of the country, while guaranteeing freedom of religious belief for all. An estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greek government does not keep statistics on religious groups and censuses, nor do they ask for religious affiliation.
Standard Modern Greek, the official language, is spoken by majority of the native population. A number of non-official, minority languages and some Greek dialects are spoken and the most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English, German, French and Italian. Official statistics report that ~51% of the population can speak English to some extent.
Greece HR at a Glance
The employment relationship and its terms are determined by the following, in hierarchical order:
Greek labour law.
Collective employment agreements and arbitration awards.
Established business practices.
The individual employment contract
Greece’s labour law is based on the principle of protection. According to this principle, the regulation that is the most favourable for the employee prevails.
Prior to 2019, Greek companies could terminate contracts at any time without giving a reason, and many Greek companies took advantage of this to avoid paying severance to employees with less than 12 months of service.
Employers are not required to provide written contracts to employees upon hiring, though they are highly encouraged to do so.
However, the employer must inform the employee in writing of the following:
Identity of the contracting parties
Place of work
Position and scope of the work to be done
Commencement date of employment and type of contact (whether it is fixed term)
Details of paid leave (duration, time and manner)
Compensation in case of employment termination
Wages and frequency of payment
Hours of daily and weekly employment
Applicable collective labour agreement defining the minimum working conditions
Employees on a fixed-term or open-ended contract must be notified of the employment terms within two months of the start of work. Notification must be in writing and can take the form of an employment contract or just a written document outlining the basics. If notification is not provided in writing, the employer is subject to fines.
Collective agreements and internal regulations usually regulate other issues such as:
Annual wage increases
Cost of living adjustments
Allowances and benefits
Equal access to promotion opportunities
Promotion at work
Any background checks must only include the data necessary for the decision on whether to conclude an employment contract or not.
The employer is entitled to request and process the health data of employees only if it is necessary to evaluate their eligibility and capability for the position in question.
Any personal data must be collected directly from the prospective employee. Only in specific conditions can it be collected from third party (e.g. previous employers), and this must have the prospective employee’s consent.
Probation Period / Trial Period
Probationary periods in Greece generally last for 12 months on open-ended contracts.
The standard working week in Greece is 40 hours, over 5 days, 8-hour per day on average, but no more than 10 hours in any one day.
Any work over and above 45 hours each week is classed as overtime, paid with a 50% premium. The maximum overtime is 120 hours per year. If this limit is breached, further work is paid with a 75% premium.
Parties can arrange working time in different ways, subject to all the parties’ agreement. However, the employee cannot waive his minimum rights regarding working time.
An employer shall maintain records of overtime work worked by an employee.
Greek workers are entitled to bonuses through the year which correspond to an extra two months’ salary: a full month for Christmas, half a month for Easter and half a month for vacation.
Both parties have the right to terminate an indefinite-term employment contract without any cause. The employer is not obliged to justify it. However, restrictions and prohibitions apply for certain categories of employees or under certain conditions (e.g. pregnant women, during annual/holiday leave, employee on parental/family obligation leave).
There are two types of termination for indefinite-term employment contracts (dismissal):
with prior notice (regular termination), which applies only for white-collar employees; and
without prior notice (irregular termination)
Procedures for termination:
Termination must always be in writing. The termination document must be handed over to the employee.
Payment of the severance, via bank transfer, must be effected before the delivery of the termination document and evidence of the transfer must be provided to the employee, together with the termination document.
The termination document must be submitted within the prescribed deadline to the ERGANI information system, through which the competent authorities are notified.
Within the period specified by the legislation, the signed termination document by both parties must be submitted to the ERGANI electronic system.
When an employee is terminated without a notice, he/she is entitled indemnity compensation based on years of service.
For dismissal with prior notice, the notice period depends on the employee’s years of service as follows:
Up to 12 months of employment – no notice
1-2 years of employment – 1 months’ notice
2-5 years of employment – 2 months’ notice
5-10 years of employment – 3 months’ notice
> 10 full years – 4 months’ notice
Redundancy / Severance Pay
Severance pay varies depending on an employee’s length of service. It starts at one month’s salary for service between two months and a year and increases up to six months’ salary for ten years of service.
Thereafter, it increases by one month’s salary per year, up to a maximum of two years’ salary for those who have served 28 years or more. However, these figures are halved if due notice is served for the termination.
Severance payment is a requirement for the validity of dismissal, both for dismissal with notice and dismissal without notice.
Post-Termination Restraints / Restricitive Covenants
A post-termination non-competition covenant must be agreed in writing and is considered lawful when:
it is required for the protection of the employer’s justified interests
it is limited in terms of time, geographical area, activity or business sector
it takes into consideration the specialisation of the employee and his or her circumstances
a reasonable compensation is agreed upon and paid to the employee
Fixed Term Contracts
Using fixed-term contracts for permanent work is prohibited in Greece. Probationary periods for fixed-term contracts should be determined prior to the start of employment.
The main rules for fixed-term employment contracts are as follows:
a fixed-term contract must be concluded in writing, and the specific objective reason justifying the renewal or extension of a fixed-term contract must be stated
the total duration of successive fixed-term contracts is three years;
the number of permitted renewals within a three-year period is three successive contracts;
the contract is terminated on the agreed date, without notice or severance;
termination before the agreed date is permitted only if it is justified by a serious cause;
the principle of equal treatment applies unless there are objective reasons justifying the different treatment.
If the above mentioned duration is exceeded, it will be presumed that the fixed-term successive contracts (where successive contracts is defined as contracts without a lapse of at least 45 days) are used as a means of meeting permanent business needs, and thus will be converted into contracts for an indefinite duration (permanent contracts). The burden of proof lies with the employer.
Unlimited renewal of fixed-term contracts is permitted if justified.
Tax and Social Security
Personal Income Tax
These are 3 types of employment-related taxes:
1. Salary tax
2. Solidarity levy
3. Severance payment tax
The monthly income from paid work and pensions, including benefits in kind, shall be subject to withholding tax on the basis of the rates referred to below Tax Rates table:
1. Salary Tax
|Monthly Income (€)*||Tax Rate (%)|
|0 – 10,000||9.0|
|10,001 – 20,000||22.0|
|20,001 – 30,000||28.0|
|30,001 – 40,000||36.0|
*Salaries, Pensions, Business Activity
2. Solidarity Levy
|Annual Income (€)||Progressive Rate (%)|
|0 – 12,000||0.0|
|12,001 – 20,000||2.2|
|20,001 – 30,000||5.0|
|30,001 – 40,000||6.5|
|40,001 – 65,000||7.5|
|65,001 – 220,000||9.0|
3. Severance Payment Tax
|Annual Income (€)||Tax Rate (%)|
|0 – 60,000||0.0|
|60,001 – 100,000||10.0|
|100,001 – 150,000||20.0|
An individual is subject to income tax on his/her total net income in Greece and abroad. Net income that is sourced in Greece is taxed irrespective of the place of residence of the individual. Income arising abroad is taxed if the individual is a resident of Greece.
The employer is responsible for making the contributions to Solidarity Tax, Income Tax and Social Security Contributions (IKA) and the tax contributions must be made by the end of each month. The penalty for late submission/payments is 10% of the total amount payable.
DEDUCTIONS FROM PAY
An employer withholds an employee’s social security contributions from his or her gross monthly salary and pays these together with the employer social security contributions directly to the Social Security Organisation.
|Contribution Rate||Employee (%)||Employer (%)|
|Pension Fund (IKA)||6.67||13.33|
|Health Benefits in Kind (IKA)||2.15||4.30|
|Health Benefits in Cash (IKA)||0.40||0.25|
|Unemployment Insurance (OAED)||1.66||3.20|
|Welfare Benefits (e.g. housing)||1.20||0.00|
*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.
Salary payments are usually monthly, payments must be made on the same day of the month and no later than the last working day of the month.
It is legally acceptable to provide employees with online payslips.
Timesheets & Record Keeping
Payroll reports must be kept for at least 10 years.
Employers are required to implement an electronic system of registration of working hours of their employees, connected in real time to the “ERGANI” platform. The start and end time of daily work, duration of break, and any extra hours over the working schedule will be registered using the Digital Employment Card.
The purpose of the Digital Employment Card (implemented June 2021) is for monitoring employers’ legal compliance to the working schedule of employees.
The days of holiday that a salaried employee is entitled to depends on the length of employment.
Every employee (whether on an indefinite or fixed term contract), is entitled to receive a percentage of his leave from the beginning of his employment, according to the weekly work schedule (5 or 6 days).
For each calendar year, employees on a 5-day working week are entitled to 20 to 26 working days, whereas employees on a 6-day working week are entitled to 24 to 31 working days, depending on the years of service and the year of employment with the employer.
After the first year of employment, annual leave increases by 1 working day for each year of employment, up to 22 working days for a 5-day working week and 26 working days for a 6-day working week.
Employees who have completed 10 years of employment with the same employer or 12 years of employment with any employer are entitled to 25 working days (if on 5-day working week) 30 working days (if on 6-day working week).
Employees who have completed 25 years of employment with the same employer or any employer, are entitled 26 working days (if on 5-day working week) 31 working days (if on 6-day working week).
Annual leave must be used by the end of the first quarter of the following calendar year.
With a supporting medical certificate, the allowable sick leave for ‘short-term sickness’ is up to six months, depending on the years of service with the employer. Employees are entitled to up to one month’s salary, also depending on the years of service with their employer.
Short-term sickness is defined as:
1 month, for employees with up to 4 years of service
3 months, for employees with 4- 10 years of service
4 months, for employees with 10 -15 years of service
6 months, for employees with > 15 years of service with the same employer
Within the above-mentioned time limits, the employee is entitled to his or her salary as follows:
up to 15 days’ pay (half salary) for service with current employer of between 10 days and 1 year
up to one month’s salary, if he/she has completed one year of employment with the current employer
Compassionate & Bereavement Leave
Leave for medically assisted reproduction – 7 working days
Special maternity leave (surrogacy, adoption)
School leave for every child up to 18 years of age – up to 4 working days
Wedding leave – 5/6 working days in accordance with employment schedule
Pre-natal examination leave – may take leave without salary deduction
Leave for child with disability – for employers with >50 employees, such an employee can request for reduction of daily employment by 1 hour/day
Leave to care for sick dependents – 6 days (base), 8 days for employees with 2 children, 14 days for employees with 3 or more children
Single parents’ leave (children up to 12 years old) – 6 days (base), 8 days for parents with 3 or more children
Leave in case of serious health issue of child (children up to 18 years old) – up to 10 working days/year
Leave in case of hospitalisation of child (children up to 18 years old) – up to 30 working days/year
Employees who have completed 6 months of employment is entitled to paid caretaker leave equivalent to 5 working days per calendar year. This is for the purpose of taking care of a relative or other person leaving in the same home with the employee, and this has to be supported by a medical certificate.
In addition, every parent or caretaker shall be entitled to a paid leave of 2 working days for urgent family matters in case of sickness or accident.
Maternity & Parental Leave
9 weeks of maternity leave is granted for women after childbirth, including all relevant remuneration and allowances. This is also applicable to women in the case of adoption of a child up to 8 years old, as well as to women who have a child through procedure of surrogacy.
Fathers of newborns are entitled to 14 working days leave and shall be used as follows:
the first 2 days are taken before expected date of birth
the remaining days within 30 days from the date of birth
OR all days are taken after the date of birth.
In case of adoption of a child up to 8 years old, paternity leave shall be provided from the date of the integration of the child into the family.
Any parent having completed 1 year of employment with the employer is entitled to a 4 months parent leave (continuously or intermittently), until the child reaches 8 years of age.
Such leave also applies to parents of adopted children of up to 8 years old, from the date of the integration of the child in the family.
For the first 2 months of the parental leave, the Manpower Employment Organization shall pay on a monthly basis to each parent a parent leave allowance equal to the minimum statutory salary, as well as pro rata Christmas and Easter Bonus and annual leave allowance calculated on the basis of said amount of allowance.
If the parent has more than one child he/she is entitled to such leave and the respective allowance for each one of the children, provided that 1 year of actual employment with the employer has lapsed from the end of the period of the previous parent leave used.
Single parents (due to death of the other parent or to removal of the parental responsibility) are entitled to double the days and the allowance corresponding to the parent leave.
Use of parent leave has to be declared in ERGANI. The period of such leave shall be considered as time of actual employment of the employee for the purposes of calculation of remuneration, days of annual leave and annual leave allowance and of severance compensation in case of termination of the employment.
There are 6 obligatory, official public holidays: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Assumption Day and Christmas Day. Two more days, Labour Day and Ochi Day, are regulated by law as optional but it is customary for employees to be given the day off.
There are, however, more public holidays celebrated in Greece than announced by the Ministry of Labour each year (whether obligatory or optional). The list of these non-fixed National Holidays rarely changes, and there is a total of 12 National Holidays each year.
Benefits to the Employee in Greece
Greek social security system covers the following:
Auxiliary (supplementary) pension;
Welfare benefits; and
Certain explicitly defined benefits (for instance, unemployment).
Main pension and health insurance apply to all workforce categories, but the others depend on the industry sector.
Visas and Foreign Workers
For employment, a long-stay visa and residence permit are required. There are limits on residence permits for dependent employment for each region and job specialisation.
The Immigration and Social Integration Code provides for different categories of residence permits for the employment of expatriates, including for special purpose employment, investment activity (a numerical limitation on permits per investment applies) and for highly qualified employment (the EU Blue card).
There are no limitations for the categories of special purpose residence permits, including the residence permit issued to the members of the board of directors, legal representatives and executives of Greek companies and subsidiaries, and branches of foreign companies in Greece. However, other limitations and requirements apply depending on the category of the special purpose residence permit (eg, a minimum number of employees of the employing company in Greece, minimum employment contract duration with the employer in Greece).
Getting a Tax Number
An AFM is a tax roll number, required to legally work in Greece (for National Insurance and tax), and to open a bank account, amongst other things.
The local Greek Tax Office (Eforia) is the place to do this. An accountant or lawyer can obtain one for you or you can apply yourself in person at your local tax office. Documents usually required to obtain a Tax number (A.F.M) are: passport, travel document (for non-EU foreigners) or ID card, and a marriage certificate if married. Certified copies of all documents must also be submitted.
Public Holidays in 2022
|1||New Year’s Day||January 1st|
|3||Orthodox Ash Monday||March 7th|
|4||Independence Day||March 25th|
|5||Orthodox Good Friday||April 22nd|
|6||Orthodox Easter Monday||April 25th|
|7||Labour Day||May 1st|
|8||Orthodox Whit Monday||June 13th|
|9||Assumption Day||August 15th|
|10||Ochi Day||October 28th|
|11||Christmas Day||December 25th|
|12||Glorifying Mother of God||December 26th|