New Ways of Working

Explore and keep track of key legal and compliance considerations for multinational employers as new ways of working become increasingly embedded as the pandemic begins to recede. Learn more about the response taken in specific countries or build your own report to compare approaches taken around the world.

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01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Remote working in Greece may be agreed only with the employee’s written consent (ie, provided in the initial employment agreement or by the signing of an amendment to the employee’s employment agreement regarding the employee’s place of work). During the covid-19 pandemic, the law provided for the unilateral implementation of remote working by employers as an exceptional temporary measure to contain the spread of the virus. According to the relevant ministerial decisions issued at different times of the crisis, companies had to apply a remote working system for at least 50% or 60% (for companies engaged in the provisions of services) of employees whose work could be provided remotely (today the limit is 20%).

Please note that a new employment law was introduced in June 2021 in Greece (Law No 4808/2021), which also includes provisions regarding remote-working arrangements. Such law applies only to employees under a dependant employment relationship (ie, the law does not refer to gig workers or independent contractors).

Under the current legal framework, employers’ obligations continue even while their employees continue to work remotely. Such obligations include, among others, ensuring equal treatment of employees, providing equipment and covering the costs of damages that may occur, protecting employees’ health and safety, and monitoring of employees’ working hours and work behaviour daily.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Although necessitated by the circumstances, the transition of employees from corporate networks to largely unmonitored and vulnerable private networks outside the reach of perimeter-based security tools finds most employers unprepared and, thus, exposed to greater cyber threats and personal data breaches compared to on-site work. Employers are urged to take into consideration the increased risks a remote-working environment poses to their data, systems and networks and to invest heavily in IT security, while employees are encouraged to carefully follow all IT security guidelines, stay alert to security incidents and be vigilant with phishing attacks. Within this framework, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) issued “Guidelines for implementing safety measures in the context of teleworking” on 15 April 2020, including appropriate safety measures concerning network access, the use of e-mail or messaging applications, the use of terminal or storage media and how teleconferencing takes place to mitigate data protection risks associated with remote working.

On the other hand, many of these measures may result in more extensive collection and processing (recording, use, disclosure, etc) of employees’ personal data, including monitoring procedures. The key issue for most employers amid these circumstances is to find the right balance between protecting their IT systems and data, on the one hand, and safeguarding the data protection and privacy rights of their employees while working from home on the other.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Limits on employer monitoring of worker activity do not significantly change in the context of remote working, taking into account that corporate equipment and networks are mainly used, and corporate data is being processed by employees. However, even if personal equipment is being used by employees, the following considerations should be taken into account.

According to applicable privacy and data protection legislation, HDPA decisions and the approach adopted by the European Court of Human Rights in Barbulescu v Romania in 2017, an employer may lawfully access and process personal data (e-mails and other documents) stored in employees' computers in cases where this processing is necessary for the overriding legitimate interests pursued by the employer or by a third party (legal basis of article 6 (1)(f) GDPR). Such legitimate interest of the employer may comprise the need to ensure the smooth running of the business by establishing mechanisms for checking that its employees are performing their professional duties adequately and with the necessary diligence, as well as the need to protect its business and property from significant threats, such as hindering the leaking of confidential information to a competitor or providing evidence of employee's criminal activities. In the latter case, the employer should, however, ensure that it does not enter into the exercise of investigative actions which, by law, are executed exclusively by the competent judicial-prosecutorial authorities.

Particular emphasis should be paid to ensuring the necessity and proportionality of the planned measure and the employer should be able to demonstrate that no less onerous and invasive measures exist to achieve the goal. In this context,  excessive and constant monitoring of employees’ computers and communications cannot be justified. In addition, access should not extend to all communications and their content, but only to those necessary under the proportionality principle.

Employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the workplace, which is not altered by the fact that they use equipment, communication devices or any other professional facilities and infrastructure of the employer, even more so if they use their personal equipment. Even if employees have been explicitly informed beforehand of a relevant internal regulation that prohibits the personal use of company computers, this alone does not legally justify monitoring or control of the personal data processed by the employee;  a more specified notice is required. In particular, employers should inform employees beforehand in clear and plain language of the implementation of monitoring methods, and their purpose, extent, nature, circumstances, etc, as required under articles 13 and 14 of the GDPR. In addition, employees should be provided with internal regulations on the proper use of company resources.  which shall include Lastly, employees’ representatives should also be informed of and express their opinion before the establishment of any monitoring systems in the workplace.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Employers are obliged to compensate the cost of remote working and provide technical support (ie, IT supports services, etc) to remote workers. In particular, employers must cover all costs associated with remote working, including:

•       the cost of equipment required for remote working (laptop, mouse, keyboard, printer if needed etc). Alternatively, it may be stipulated in the remote-working agreement that the employee will use their own equipment;

•       the cost of telecommunications (ie, use of internet connection, phone, etc);

•       the cost of maintaining such equipment;

•       the cost of restoring any damage caused to it (ie, either compensate the cost of fixing equipment used or replace the same. The employer’s obligation to cover such cost also remains in case the parties have agreed that employees will use their own equipment;  

•       The monthly cost of the employee using their home as a workplace.

 Please note here that the minimum amounts of the abovementioned costs to be compensated by the employer are expected to be regulated by a relevant Ministerial Decision, which has not been issued yet.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

From a Greek employment law perspective, if employees are permanently working remotely in Greece, the application of certain provisions of Greek labour legislation that constitute mandatory law (ie, the payment of severance in case of termination, overtime payment, annual leave entitlements etc) may apply, if more favourable for the employee.

From a Greek social security law perspective, in general, employees will be insured and therefore pay social security contributions to the Social Security Fund of the country where they provide their work. However, there is no specific legal provision regarding payment of social security contributions for remote working (ie, in cases where an employee is working physically from a country where the company has no legal entity). According to the guidelines of the Ministry of Labour, in case of such remote-working arrangements, an employee would be insured and therefore pay social security contributions to the Social Security Fund of the country where the company has its legal entity and from which the employee is paid through its payroll system.

From a Greek tax law perspective, as well as under the double-tax treaties signed by Greece, if an individual is in a dependent employment relationship with a non-Greek employer and provides his or her services remotely from Greece permanently (ie, for more than six months) while using as a fixed place his or her home, there might be a permanent establishment (PE) risk in Greece for the non-Greek employer, to the extent the services rendered from Greece constitute the core business of the foreign company and are not limited to auxiliary or preparatory activities.

Also, if a non-Greek company signs an independent services agreement with an individual (contractor) and the contractor is authorised to conclude binding contracts on behalf of the non-Greek employer in Greece with Greek clients, a dependent agent PE risk for the non-Greek company may also arise.

Furthermore, irrespective of the  PE risk, based on domestic law if an individual provides employment services from Greece (to a Greek or non-Greek employer), his or her employment income is considered Greek sourced. Thus, it should trigger local tax reporting and tax compliance liabilities for the non-Greek employer, who should be registered with the Greek tax authorities to withhold  Greek personal income tax and special solidarity contribution (if any) corresponding to the employment income of the employee every month. It is noted that such a tax registration, reporting, or compliance liability does not apply for the non-Greek company in case of an independent services agreement with a contractor.

Lastly, from the individual’s point of view, if he or she works from Greece for more than 183 days per year, it might create a tax residence issue under the domestic tax rules, in which case he or she should be subject to regular Greek taxation and should be taxed in Greece for his or her worldwide income according to the relevant domestic income tax rules.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Equal treatment between employees working remotely and those working at the company’s premises are guaranteed. Any reduction of salaries may be implemented only following the employee consent (ie, by signing an amendment of the employment agreement).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory. However, based on a newly introduced law,  vaccination is mandatory for employees working at nursing homes and for medical staff (doctors, nurses etc) and employees working at hospitals.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

See question 7 regarding vaccination and entering the workplace.

Given that covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory (with some exceptions for employees working in nursing homes, hospitals etc), making entry subject to having received a covid-19 vaccination is not lawful and gives employees grounds to raise a discriminatory claim against their employer.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Vaccination is mandatory for specific categories of employees (see above) as well as all employees working at public and private hospitals. Employees of the health and care sector cannot duly provide their services if they are not vaccinated and their employer is released from their obligation to pay salaries.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Medical and vaccination information falls within a special category of data (ie, data concerning health) according to article 9 of the GDPR. Against this background, it can be only processed in exceptional circumstances by relying on one of the following potential legal bases:

(i) it is provided for in a specific legal provision as a respective obligation either for employers of a specific sector or for all employers (article 9(2)(b) of the GDPR); 

(ii) it is deemed necessary so that the employer meets their obligation to protect employees’ health and safety in the workplace, under the provisions of article 9(2)(b) of the GDPR and Greek Law 3850/2010; or

(iii) the employee voluntarily discloses vaccination-related information to the employer, so that transmission of data falls within the scope of article 9(2)(a) of the GDPR.

Moreover, employers must comply with fundamental data-processing principles (article 5 of the GDPR) and any other obligation provided for under the GDPR when processing special categories of personal data as data controllers. In particular, data minimisation and storage limitation principles must be observed by employers. In addition, employees have to be previously informed according to article 13 of the GDPR of the processing of their personal data and appropriate technical and organisational measures must be implemented according to article 32 of the GDPR (eg, restricted access to data, confidentiality etc).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Key considerations include health and safety issues, both in terms of mental health due to employees’ isolation from their colleagues, and in terms of safety because when working from home it is difficult to identify what constitutes and what does not constitute a work accident.

In general, employers are liable towards employees for health and safety issues even during the remote-working arrangement; the employer is obliged to inform remote workers regarding company policies on health and safety matters including information about organisational and technical issues, equipment usage guidelines and inform them of the procedure to be followed if there is an accident during working hours, their right to take adequate breaks and their right to disconnect.

A new ministerial decision that will further specify such health and safety rules as well as the procedure that the Labour Inspectorate will follow to check compliance with health and safety measures is expected soon.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Based on the provisions of the new law, employers must introduce a health and safety-related company policy or individually notify each employee regarding the company’s applicable health and safety measures.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

No, as the current legal framework distinguishes between: (a) employees working at the company’s premises or any other designated by the company as a place of work (ie, another company, client, field etc); and (b) employees providing their services remotely. In both cases, the employers must ensure employees’ health and safety.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

The new law s4808/2021 stresses employers’ obligation to protect the mental health of remote workers. To that end, certain provisions have been enacted to encourage a good work-life balance, including the right to disconnect and the prohibition of any retaliation measures or discriminatory behaviour against employees exercising their right to disconnect.

Employers must also prevent the isolation of employees working from home and allow them to meet with their colleagues regularly, by organising meetings so they have access to all information concerning the company.

Also, employees working from home have the same collective rights as employees working at a company's premises. Communication with employee’s representatives should not be prevented.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Companies that made use of the government’s state aid measures could not proceed with redundancies or salary reductions for as long as the measures were applied. Companies that did not make use of said measures were able to proceed with redundancies or agree on salary reductions with their employees.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Following the introduction of the new law 4808/2021 regarding remote working, the role of trade unions will increase as they will seek to remain actively involved in certain processes related to remote working.

The main concerns of the General Worker’s Confederation, as recently notified to the government and  employers' organizations are:

•             the introduction of teleworking through collective-bargaining agreements;

•             the voluntary nature of teleworking and the minimum standards to be complied with;

•             the safeguarding of remote workers’ rights and their communication with employee representatives; and

•             the coverage of all costs related to working from home and all additional costs resulting from the use of employees’ homes as their offices.

We believe that there will be new collective labour agreements regulating working from home and flexible working arrangements in the future.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Remote working is agreed with each employee through the signing of a written agreement that should include all elements of the remote arrangement (ie,  equipment, costs to be covered by the employer, the employee’s right to disconnect, health and safety measures during the remote-working arrangement etc).

However, according to the new law, 4808/2021 the technical and organisational measures required for the implementation of the employees’ right to disconnect must be agreed upon between the employer and the employee’s representatives. If no agreement is reached, the aforementioned measures must be communicated to the employee in writing.

Last updated on 21/09/2021