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Gradual uplifting of coronavirus measures and specifications on employment matters

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On 1st May 2020, Legislative Decree Α’90/01-05-2020 was issued, providing for a variety of regulations adopted by the competent Ministries, in order to establish the framework of transition to the “next phase” of the COVID-19 crisis. Inter alia, provisions regarding employment matters were laid down by the Ministry of Labor, related to suspension of employment contracts, working hours, termination of employment contracts and other organizational matters in the labor sector.

In more detail, suspension of employment contracts is extended in businesses shut down by state order during May, whereas option to extend suspension of employment contracts is provided to employers seriously affected by the crisis, only for the 60% of their suspended working force and no longer than 30 days, with maximum duration until 31st May 2020. While on suspension of employees, businesses are not allowed to proceed with any termination of employment contracts, otherwise terminations are automatically considered invalid.

In addition to this, businesses are obliged to maintain the same number of employment contracts with the same terms and conditions as before suspension, for a period of 45 days after the end of the measure of suspension. All suspended workers are entitled to receive a state aid which shall be defined on the basis of suspension calculated daily. The exact amount corresponding to each suspension day, as well as other provisions regulating the process of distribution of state aid, will be soon adopted by the respective Ministerial Decision.

Businesses seriously affected by the crisis may permanently end suspension of at least 40% of employment contracts already suspended, as long as 15 days of suspension have elapsed. Said employees may not return to a suspension regime, whereas they shall be entitled to receive state aid calculated on the days during which their employment contracts were suspended. A more flexible provision related to suspension options foresees that businesses either shut down by state order or seriously affected by the crisis may recall suspension of some of their employees in order to address extraordinary and unexpected business needs. For this temporary “unsuspension period”, the employer is obliged to pay the employee for the work offered, whereas for the suspension period, to which all temporarily unsuspended workers return once the unsuspension period elapses, employees are to be provided with the state aid, as defined by the Ministerial Decision soon to be issued. It is noted that employers shall notify the ERGANI system prior to any actions regarding placement of suspended workers under a temporary working regime.

Moreover, employers may adapt working hours of their employees to the newly formed operating hours of their businesses, under the condition that this adaption does not alter the type of employment contracts. With regard to Collective Labor Agreements and Arbitration Decisions expiring between 29.02.2020 and 30.04.2020, it is resolved that their validity is extended until 30.06.2020.

The Legislative Decree in Section IA provides for the enactment of social distancing regulations, among which are the obligatory use of face masks, minimum distance between people, rules of individual protection and personal hygiene and other special rules of operation. These measures may be imposed by the competent Ministries by virtue of relevant Ministerial Decisions, in all and any public places and/or private sector businesses with the aim to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In other news, the option to pay a reduced by 40% rent continues to be provided as a facilitating measure to all its beneficiaries for the month May, whereas on Monday 2020, 4th, applicants for the returnable state deposit obtained access in the relevant platform in order to certify if they are entitled to receive it and up to which amount. The returnable state deposit shall be repaid between 2022 – 2020, offering a grace period until 2021, with interest lower than 1%.