One of the crucial issues on labour relations is working hours, an issue which our law office faces extensively ever since it was founded. Greek authorities (Hellenic Labour Inspection Authority (SEPE), Social Insurance Institute (IKA) etc.) are also concerned with working hours, since they supervise employers, who determine working hours for their employees and are responsible for the employer’s conformity with the law. The aforementioned authorities also handle (both with reference to the employers and the employees) disputes arising from overwork or/and overtime.
Working time is a matter of great significance for the employment contract, as is the length of time during which the employee is obliged to offer his work to his/her employer daily or even for a longer period of time (week, month, etc.). In other words, this is called working hours and is usually defined as daily or weekly.
Working hours are divided into the following categories:
Statutory and contractual working hours.
Daily and weekly working time.
Ordinary working hours, having a duration equal to the maximum of the statutory or contractual working hours. When exceeding the aforementioned time limit it is called overwork and overtime (legal and illegal).
Full and part-time.
Continuous and intermittent or rotating.
Daily and nightly.
Statutory working time is regulated by the rules of public order and apply whether the employment contract is valid or invalid. Statutory working hours are specified by law (or by provisions having the same validity with the law) and constitute the maximum permitted duration of employment for the employees. The provisions of the law stipulate the maximum lawful time limit for the employees, which is mandatory.
Therefore, it is prohibited for a private agreement to be concluded between the employee and employer, which shall violate the statutory working hours, in the sense of agreeing on extra working hours either on a daily or weekly basis.
For this reason, the parties may only agree on less working hours. Working hours beyond the statutory time limit are deemed and paid as overtime in accordance with the specific categories provided.
The contractual working time is the one established by agreement (private agreement, regulation of employment, business practice, etc.). Contractual working time assimilates with working time established by a Collective Labour Agreement. The National General Collective Labour Agreement, which was signed in 1984, established (since 1.1.1984) the forty-hour (40) work week.
Following a series of legislative amendments (Law 3385/2005, as amended by Law 3863/2010) the overwork is divided into ordinary and statutory. Ordinary overwork is when employees exceed their working hours, as those are stipulated in their private employment agreements, up to forty (40) hours. Statutory overwork is when employees exceed their forty-hour (40) working week by working one hour per day up to forty-five (45) hours per week [or up to forty-eight (48) hours for those working with the six-day work system].
Statutory overwork is estimated maximum on a weekly basis and its determination lies at the discretion of the employer acting under the managerial prerogative/right. Certainly, when it comes to overwork on a more permanent basis, the employer’s consent is required. The remuneration due to overtime consist of a surcharge of 20%. Overtime lies at the discretion of the employer and, if requested by the latter, the employee is obliged to provide his work as asked, unless according to good faith and bonos mores such claim is unfair and abusive.