Traditionally, teleworking in Greece was regulated in article 5 of law L.3846/2010. However, teleworking as an employment practice was not widely implemented until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This provision was recently amended by the new Labour Law (4808/2021). Article 67 of the new Labour Law regulates remote employment more comprehensively; it also defines the types of teleworking or remote working and whether these types of work can be implemented unilaterally or not. In addition, it has reinforced employees’ entitlements. Specifically, it acknowledges a right to disconnect for teleworkers for the first time, that is, a right to refrain completely from working and communicating digitally or answering telephone calls, emails, or any form of communication outside working hours and during their statutory leave.
Additionally, it contains a provision that the monitoring of the employee’s performance needs to be conducted in a privacy-friendly manner and in compliance with the protection of personal data.
Teleworkers’ health and safety is also acknowledged and the employer must inform the teleworker regarding its policy on health and safety at work, including specifications for teleworking areas, the rules on the use of visual display screens, breaks, and organisational and technical means. Finally, the employer has to ensure that teleworkers have the same rights and obligations as employees working on-site in relation to workload, assessment criteria and procedures, rewards, access to information concerning the undertaking and other matters.
One of the more significant aspects of the new regulation of teleworking is that the employer bears the costs incurred by the employee as a result of teleworking, that is, the cost of equipment, unless it is agreed that the employee’s equipment will be used, telecommunications, maintenance of the equipment and damage repair. The employee must be provided with technical support for the performance of work and the employer undertakes to reimburse the costs of repairing or replacing the equipment as required. This obligation also applies to equipment owned by the employee unless the agreement or the employment relationship stipulates otherwise.
In accordance with article 67, a Ministerial Decision (98490/3.12.2021) was issued, determining the minimum monthly cost that the employer is required to pay for teleworking. The compensation covers the use of household space as a workplace amounting to EUR 13 per month, the cost of telecommunications at EUR 10 per month, and the maintenance costs for equipment at EUR 5 per month.
The payment by the employer is paid into the employee’s payroll account listed as ‘teleworking costs’. If the employee teleworks fewer than 22 days in a month, then the employer has to pay 1/22 of the above expenses for each day of actual teleworking. If the employer has separate contracts with fixed and mobile communication providers and directly pays the cost of telecommunications and if the employer provides the equipment to the employee, then no amount is due for the cost of telecommunications and equipment maintenance. These amounts are not remuneration and they are not subject to employer’s and employee’s social security contributions; they are not taxed and constitute deductible expenses for the employer.
It is worth noting that these new teleworking rules are a turning point for Greek employment law and practice. Until recently Greece had one of the lowest rates of teleworking in the EU, but, the COVID-19 pandemic effected a major shift in practice: as a result, teleworking became, for a period, mandatory for a specific percentage of employees. Now it is up to the employer to determine this percentage.
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