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Emergency coronavirus measures in Greece and their impact on employers

Written by
KREMALIS LAW FIRM, offering full service for employment matters in Greece.
In an effort to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the Greek government, has adopted a series of measures that will apply to those affected by the pandemic.    

Special purpose permits for private and public sector employees 

Parent employees, in both the public and private sectors are entitled to two weeks of leave until Friday 10 April to take care of their children during the schools’ suspension.

A permit is required for at least one parent to work in the private sector as an employee, even if the other parent is self-employed.

Employees who have at least three months of service are entitled to the full special leave, as the Legislative Content Act requires that the employee ‘meet the statutory requirements for receiving at least six days of regular annual leave in six days’ work and five days in daily work’.

This applies to employees who have been employed for three months or more. New recruits with less than three months’ service are entitled to special purpose leave in proportion to their days of normal leave. The special purpose leave is for a minimum of four days, one of which is treated as regular leave (that is, deducted from the employee’s total annual allowance) and the other three are provided as a ‘special’ coronavirus leave, which is fully remunerated and not deducted from regular employee’s leave, but paid 2/3 by the employer and 1/3 by the state. This leave may be extended by ministerial decision depending on the spread of the coronavirus.

The employer is required to declare employees making use of this permit, and its duration, after 10 April 2020 and in any event until 15 April to the Ministry of Labour’s ‘ERGANI’ Information System.

Civil servants can make use of reduced hours (without the corresponding reduction in their salaries) or special purpose leave for the period described above.

In particular, civil servants who are parents of children aged up to 14 can obtain a special purpose permit, as in the private sector. For every four days of absence, three days are recorded as a justified absence due to the temporary suspension of the kindergarten or the school the employee’s child of attends. These three days are paid while one day of absence is considered to be a regular leave.

If an employee makes use of a shorter period of time, this will generally be regular leave.

If both parents are employees, they must provide a joint statement determining which of the two uses the special leave, unless the statement specifies that they take it in turns to use special leave in turn: if so, they cannot do so for less than four days per parent.

Suspension of commercial activities and employees’ pay 

In the wake of more stringent precautionary measures due to the rapid increase in Covid 19 cases, the government has also decided to suspend a number of commercial activities, such as shopping malls, bars and cafes, except from those providing delivery and take away services. Sports facilities, in addition to open areas, and beauty centres, will remain closed. Food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, and bakeries are open.

In addition, the government has decided to temporarily ban seasonal tourist accommodation in the whole territory, for preventive public health reasons, for the period from 15 March to 30 April. For tourist accommodation that is already in operation at the publication date of this decision, the ban will enter into force on 23 March and last until 30 April 2020.

In the event of the temporary closure of business units, the employment relationship is completely suspended, in accordance with Article 380 of the Greek Civil Code. This means employees are not obliged to provide work and the employer is not required to pay salary for the period of the ban. Insurance liabilities are also suspended. A special national mechanism to protect dependent employees in employer-owned companies has been introduced where their operation has been temporarily banned due to COVID-19 emergency measures. It includes financial support measures, special purpose compensation, insurance coverage and emergency subsidies.

Employers who are subject to, or have been subject to, a temporary restriction following a public authority order, must submit a statement to the ERGANI Information System stating their business is subject to a temporary ban. The data for employees of these companies is automatically extracted from the ERGANI Information System.

Employees who work in a dependent employment relationship with the employers referred to in the previous paragraph must submit an individual statement on an electronic platform kept for this purpose by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. In it, they must declare their personal information, their bank account information (IBAN), and the details of the company in which they work in order to be included in the special support mechanism.

Cultural events 

Gyms, cinemas, theatres and entertainment centres were closed for 15 days by the Ministry of Health, following a ‘warning’ that the country had declared a coronavirus alert.

The same policy was followed by the Ministry of Culture, which announced the suspension of museums and archaeological sites until March 30.

At the same time, the government decided to cancel all national parades on 25 March in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Greece.

Courts: suspension and exceptions 

The operation of courts and prosecutors has been suspended period from 13 to 27 March 2020, including military courts, as well as the National School of Judicial Officers, with the exception of functions relating to the provision of temporary judicial protection and the publication of decisions, imposed in the context of anti-coronavirus measures. In particular the following are suspended from 13 to 27 March:

trials before civil and criminal courts;

the legal and judicial time limits for the conduct of proceedings and other actions before the courts and public prosecutor’s offices, as well as the expiry of the relevant claims;

enforcement procedures and auctions.

Hospitals and surgeries 

Restrictions regarding planned surgeries have also been announced. In particular, only emergencies and accident surgeries that cannot be postponed will take place in public hospitals from now on, following a Ministry of Health announcement. All afternoon hospital surgeries are currently suspended.

The Ministry of Health is also considering setting up private clinics to begin the transfer of patients hospitalised in public hospitals with non-infectious diseases in the coming days, so that only patients who will need hospitalisation in the public sector remain.


Theofani Batsila
Associate - Greece