Hire in Greece
Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in Greece.
The Capital of Greece
Time Zone in Greece
Important Facts About the Country of Greece
Introduction to Greece
Greece lies at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. The country is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, where the president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government within a multiparty system. With an ongoing sovereign debt crisis, conducting 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. The country also enjoys low labor costs along with a strong entrepreneurial tradition.
What to Know about Greece's Geography
Greece borders Albania to the northwest and North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north. It shares a land border with Turkey to the northeast. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the Greek mainland and the Ionian Sea to the west. The Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea are to the south. The total land area of Greece is 131,957 square kilometers, one-fifth of which is made up of the Greek islands.
Climate in Greece
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 central parts of Peloponnese feature an Alpine climate with heavy snowfalls.
The Culture of Greece
Greece is often regarded as the cradle of Western culture and democracy. Modern democracies owe credit 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 mythology, Byzantine glories and European modernity. Together, these form the cosmopolitan spirit of modern Hellenism.
Religions Observed in Greece
The Greek Constitution recognizes Eastern Orthodoxy as the country’s ‘prevailing’ faith, while also guaranteeing the freedom of religion for all. An estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox and as members of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greek government does not maintain statistics on religious groups nor do they ask for religious affiliation in the census.
Languages Spoken in Greece
Standard Modern Greek, the official language, is spoken by the majority of the native population. A variety of non-official, minority languages and some Greek dialects are also spoken. The most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English, German, French and Italian. Official statistics report approximately 51% of the population can speak English to some extent.
Greek Human Resources at a Glance
Employment Law Protections in Greece
The provisions of employment relationships in Greece are determined by the following, in hierarchical order:
- International treaties
- Greek labor law
- Collective employment agreements and arbitration awards
- Employment rules
- Established business practices
- The individual employment contract
Greece’s labor law framework is based on the principle of protection. The regulation most favorable for the employee prevails, according to this principle.
Employment Contracts in Greece
Employers are required to provide their employees with written or electronic notification of their basic terms of employment. An electronic copy is acceptable as long as it can be saved and printed, and the employer has evidence of delivery. Within one week of starting employment, the employer must inform the employee of the following basic terms:
- the parties’ identities
- the place of work
- the position and job responsibilities
- the start and end dates of the employment
- the length and conditions of the probationary period
- the employee’s salary, working hours, and schedule
Greece's Contract Terms
Employees, whether they are on a fixed-term or open-ended contract, must be notified of the employment terms within two months of the start of work. The notification must be concluded in writing, taking the form of an employment contract or as just a written document detailing the basic provisions. If notification is not provided in writing, the employer is subject to fines.
Collective agreements and internal company regulations usually determine other conditions such as:
- Annual wage increases
- Cost of living adjustments
- Allowances and benefits
- Equal access to promotion opportunities
- Promotion at work
If an employer conducts a background check, it must only include the information necessary for deciding whether or not to conclude an employment contract.
The employer is entitled to request and process the health data of employees but only if it is necessary to evaluate their eligibility and capability for the position in question.
Personal data can only be collected directly from the prospective employee. Only in specific conditions can it be collected from a third party (e.g. previous employers). The prospective employee must also consent to this.
Greece's Guidelines Regarding Probation Period/Trial Period
During the probationary period, employees are evaluated to determine whether they are suitable for the job. The probationary period should not exceed six months and, once passed, is considered as working time and subject to all relevant employee rights.
If the employment agreement is fixed-term, the probationary period should be proportionate in relation to the duration of the agreement. This means that it cannot be longer than one-quarter of the agreement’s total duration or six months, whichever is shorter.
Regulations and Rules Regarding Working Hours in Greece
The standard working week in Greece is 40 hours, performed over the course of five days with eight hours per day on average. No more than 10 hours of work should be performed in any one day.
If an organization operates on a continuous system of alternating shifts and employs its workers for a 5-day weekly work, they can be allowed to work on the 6th day of the week, provided that it is registered by the employer on the ERGANI platform before the employee starts working. The work of employees on the additional day must not exceed 8 hours and they are not allowed to work overtime or do any extra work. The employer must pay the employees for the 6th day’s work with regular pay and an extra premium of 40%.
Greek Laws Regarding Overtime
Any work over and above 45 hours each week is classified as overtime and must be 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 their minimum rights when it comes to working overtime.
An employer must maintain records of any overtime work worked by an employee.
Rules Regarding Bonus and 13th Month Pay in Greece
Greek workers are entitled to bonuses through the year, which correspond to an extra two months’ salary. These include a full month’s salary for Christmas, half a month for Easter and half a month for a vacation bonus.
Both parties are entitled to terminate an indefinite-term employment contract without any cause. The employer is not required to justify the dismissal. However, restrictions and prohibitions apply for certain categories of employees or under certain conditions (e.g. pregnant women, during holiday leave, employees on parental leave, family obligation leave, etc.).
There are two types of termination for indefinite-term employment contracts:
- Regular termination occurs with prior notice and this applies only for white-collar employees.
- Irregular termination occurs without prior notice.
Procedures for termination:
- Terminations must always be concluded in writing. The termination document must be provided to the employee.
- Payment of the severance payment (via bank transfer) must be disbursed before the delivery of the termination document. Evidence of the transfer must be provided to the employee, along with the termination document.
- The termination document must be submitted within the prescribed deadline to the ERGANI information system, through which the relevant 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 notice, he or she is entitled to indemnity compensation based on their years of service.
If an employee is absent without justification for more than five consecutive days, the employer will issue a written notice, which will be uploaded to the ERGANI platform. If the employee fails to return to work within five days from the date of the employer’s notice, their absence will be considered as presumption of resignation.
Greece's Requirements Regarding Notice Periods
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 in Greece
Severance pay varies depending on an employee’s length of service and is calculated as follows:
- One to four years of service: two months’ pay
- Four to six years of service: three months’ pay
- Six to eight years of service: four months’ pay
- Eight to 10 years of service: five months’ pay
- 10 to 11 years of service: six months’ pay
- 11 to 12 years of service: seven months’ pay
- 12 to 13 years of service: eight months’ pay
- Then for each additional year’s service, one month’s extra pay, until 16 years’ service, when the payment plateaus at 12 months’ pay.
Severance payment is a requirement for the validity of dismissal, both for dismissal with notice and dismissal without notice.
Post-Termination Restraints / Restrictive Covenants
A post-termination non-competition covenant must be concluded in writing. These will likely be considered lawful and enforceable when:
- it is required to protect the employer’s justified business interests
- it is limited in terms of time, geographical area, activity or business sector
- it takes into consideration the specialization of the employee and his or her circumstances
- a reasonable compensation is agreed upon and paid to the employee
Fixed Term Contacts for Greek Employees
Employers in Greece are prohibited from using fixed-term contracts for permanent work. Probationary periods for fixed-term contracts should be determined prior to the commencement of employment.
The main parameters for fixed-term employment contracts are as follows:
- A fixed-term contract must be concluded in writing, stating the specific objective reason justifying the renewal or extension of a fixed-term contract.
- The total duration of successive fixed-term contracts is capped at three years.
- The total number of permitted renewals within a three-year period is capped at three successive contracts.
- The contract is terminated on the agreed date (without notice or severance).
- Termination prior to the agreed date is allowed but only if justified by a serious cause.
- The principle of equal treatment applies unless there are objective reasons justifying differential treatment.
If the duration of a contract is exceeded, it will be presumed the fixed-term successive contract is used as a means of meeting permanent business needs. A successive contract is defined as any contract without a lapse of at least 45 days. The contract will then be converted into a contract for an indefinite duration. This represents a permanent contract, with the burden of proof lying on the employer.
Unlimited renewal of fixed-term contracts is permitted, if justified.
Tax and Social Security Information for Employers in Greece
Personal Income Tax
These are three types of employment-related taxes:
- Salary tax
- Solidarity levy
- Severance payment tax
The monthly income from paid work and pensions, including benefits in kind, are 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|
Deduction 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 authority.
|Contribution Rate||Employee (%)||Employer (%)|
|Pension Fund (IKA)||6.67||13.33|
|Health Benefits in Kind (IKA)||2.55||4.55|
|Other (Unemployment, LAEK, Labour)||1.65||1.41|
*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged by GoGlobal will differ.
Important Information for Greek Employees
Salary payments are usually monthly. Payments must be disbursed on the same day of the month and no later than the final working day of the month.
Employers in Greece are legally allowed to provide employees with online payslips.
Timesheets & Record Keeping
- Payroll reports must be kept for at least 10 years.
- Employers must implement an electronic system of registration for employees’ working hours, connected in real time to the “ERGANI” platform. The start and end time of daily work, duration of breaks and any extra hours over the working schedule will be registered using the Digital Employment Card.
- The Digital Employment Card (implemented in June 2021) is intended to monitor employers’ legal compliance with the working schedule of employees.
- The days of holiday a salaried employee is entitled to depends on their length of employment and work week schedule.
- 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 of five or six days.
- For each calendar year, employees with a five-day work week are entitled to 20 to 26 work days. Employees with a six-day work week are entitled to 24 to 31 work days. The exact number depends on the employee’s years of employment and the years of employment with the employer.
- After the first year of employment, annual leave increases by one work day for each year of employment. This goes up to 22 work days for a five-day work week and 26 work days for a six-day work 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 work days (if on a five-day work week) or 30 work days (if on a 6-day work week).
- If an employee has completed 25 years of employment with the same employer or any employer, they are entitled 26 work days (if on a five-day work week) and 31 work days (if on a six-day work week).
- Annual leave must be used by the end of the first quarter of the following calendar year.
The allowable sick leave for ‘short-term sickness’ is up to six months, if accompanied by a supporting medical certificate. The amount will depend on the years of service with the employer. Employees are entitled to up to one month’s salary, which also depends on the employee’s years of service with the 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 receive his or her salary as follows:
- up to 15 days’ pay (half salary) for employees with service with their current employer of between 10 days and one year
- up to one month’s salary, if the employee has completed one year of employment with the current employer
Compassionate & Bereavement Leave
- Leave for medically-assisted reproduction: seven working days
- Special maternity leave is offered for surrogacy and adoption.
- School leave for every child up to 18 years of age: up to four working days
- Wedding leave: five or six work days, in accordance with work schedule
- Prenatal examination leave: employee may take leave without salary deduction
- Leave for child with disability: for employers with more than 50 employees, an employee can request for reduction of daily employment by one hour a day
- Leave to care for sick dependents: six days (base), which goes up to eight days for employees with two children or 14 days for employees with three or more children
- Single parents’ leave (children up to 12 years old): six days (base), which goes up to eight days for parents with three or more children
- Leave in case of serious health issue of child (children up to 18 years old): up to 10 work days per year
- Leave in case of hospitalization of child (children up to 18 years old): up to 30 working days per year
Employees who have completed six months of employment are entitled to paid caretaker leave equivalent to five work days per calendar year. This is for the purpose of taking care of a relative or other person living in the same home with the employee. This leave must be supported by a medical certificate.
In addition, every parent or caretaker is entitled to a paid leave of two working days for urgent family matters in case of sickness or accident.
Maternity & Parental Leave
Women are entitled to nine weeks of maternity leave following childbirth, which includes all relevant remuneration and allowances. This allowance also applies to women in the case of adoption of a child up to eight years old, as well as to women who have a child through a procedure of surrogacy.
Fathers of newborns are entitled to 14 working days leave, which can be used in one of the following two ways:
- The first two days can be taken before the expected date of birth, with the remaining days taken within 30 days from the date of birth.
- All days are taken following the date of birth.
In case of adoption of a child up to eight years old, paternity leave will be provided from the date of the integration of the child into the family.
Any parent having completed one year of employment with the employer is entitled to a four month parental leave period. This can be taken continuously or intermittently until the child reaches eight years of age. Such leave also applies to parents of adopted children of up to eight years old, beginning from the date of the integration of the child into the family.
For the first two months of the parental leave, the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) will pay out on a monthly basis to each parent a parent leave allowance equivalent to the minimum statutory salary. These parents will also receive a pro rata Christmas and Easter Bonus as well as an annual leave allowance calculated on the amount they are entitled to.
If the parent has more than one child, he or she is entitled to such leave and the respective allowance for each one of the children. In order for this to apply, one year of actual employment with the employer must be completed from the end of the period of the previous parent leave used.
Single parents, following the death of the other parent or removal of their parental responsibility, are entitled to double the days and the allowance corresponding to the parent leave.
The application of parent leave must be declared in ERGANI. The period of such leave will 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 severance compensation in case of termination of the employment.
- There are six official public holidays which employers are obligated to observe: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Assumption Day and Christmas Day. Two more days, Labor Day and Ochi Day, are regulated by law as optional. However, it is customary for employees to be given these days off.
- There are more public holidays celebrated in Greece than announced by the Ministry of Labor, with some being obligatory and some optional. The list of these non-fixed National Holidays rarely changes, making for a total of 12 national holidays each year.
Benefits to the Employee in Greece
Greek Statutory Benefits
Greece’s social security system covers the following:
- Main pension
- Auxiliary (supplementary) pension
- Health insurance
- Welfare benefits
- Certain explicitly defined benefits (for instance, unemployment)
Main pension and health insurance apply to all workforce categories while the others depend on the industry sector.
Employers must provide the following monthly minimum payments to cover the costs associated with teleworking:
- 13 euros for the use of the employee’s home office
- 10 euros for telecommunication costs
- 5 euros for equipment maintenance costs
Rules Regarding Visas and Foreign Workers in Greece
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 specialization.
The Immigration and Social Integration Code of Greece outlines different categories of residence permits for the employment of expatriates, including for special-purpose employment, investment activities (the number of permits per investment is limited) and for highly qualified employment. The latter is through the EU Blue Card program.
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, subsidiaries and branches of foreign companies in Greece. However, other limitations and requirements apply, depending on the category of the special purpose residence permit (e.g. a minimum number of employees of the employing company in Greece, minimum employment contract duration with the employer in Greece, etc.).
Getting a Tax Number
An AFM is a tax roll number, which is required to legally work in Greece, enroll in national insurance schemes and open a bank account, among other functions.
An AFM can be obtained through a local Greek tax office (‘Eforia’). An accountant or lawyer can obtain one on behalf of the applicant or the individual can apply in-person at their local tax office. Documents usually required to obtain an AFM include passport or ID card, travel document (for non-EU foreigners) and a marriage certificate if married. Certified copies of all documents must also be submitted.
Public Holidays Recognized by Greece in 2023
|1||New Year’s Day||01.Jan.2023|
|3||Orthodox Ash Monday||27.Feb.2023|
|5||Orthodox Good Friday||22.Apr.2023|
|6||Orthodox Easter Sunday||24.Apr.2023|
|7||Orthodox Easter Monday||25.Apr.2023|
|9||Orthodox Whit Sunday||12.Jun.2023|
|10||Orthodox Whit Monday||13.Jun.2023|
|14||2nd Day of Christmas||26.Dec.2023|