Topic 4 The basics of the Greek labour market and the risks of Labour Exploitation – how to identify and report labour exploitation

According to the 2011 census, the current population of Greece is estimated at 10.800.000 people. 

During the Q4 in 2021, there were 4.053.275 employees while the number of jobseekers was 617.431. The unemployment rate reached 13.2% while the one of salaried employees reached 68.9%. Furthermore, significant was the number of self-employed without staff (20.1%). 

The highest unemployment rate is observed in women until 24 years old, with a low level of education in the North Aegean area, while the highest employment rates are among men from 30-44 years old with a high level of education in the Attica region.

Although before the financial crisis there were many migrant workers in the country, from 2009 to 2013 the number was significantly reduced as 33% of the jobs that employed migrants disappeared. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the labor market’s image has been transformed since there is an increase in remote work and reduction of working hours. 

The Law “4251/2014 – Immigration, Social Integration Code and other provisions” establishes, among others, the conditions for the legal employment of migrants and protects their labor and social security rights. This legislation introduces important reforms in the field of residence permits for third country nationals and their integration into the Greek system.

As far as businesses in Greece are concerned, in their majority (80%) are small with a turnover up to 150.000 euros while over 85% businesses employ up to 5 employees. 

According to the annual 2021 report of the “Action Finance Initiative ” (AFI), in Greece there were 542 loans (5,319 millions euros) that created 790 new job positions. Simultaneously, female entrepreneurship constitutes 42% of the loans.

To receive the copy of their job contract with all the conditions within two months since the beginning of the collaboration. 

After providing work, employees are entitled to receive their salary. In case of a delay or no payment the employee has the right to contact a competent authority for labor issues.  

To receive the document that writes down any changes that might occur in the contract within one month from the changes. 

To receive compensation in case of contract termination by the employer (dismissal) if their labor relationship exceeds one year, in the case of a fixed term contract.

To receive annual leave with pay in the case of an individual employment contract.

Labor exploitation can be common in the Greek labor market as well as in other EU countries. 

According to FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) labor exploitation occurs in abundance of economic activities and professions. 

More specifically, the Article 32 of FRA refers to the word “exploitation” and establishes a labor network that promotes development in a variety of sectors such as economic, safety, physical and health.

As labor exploitation can stand among others, work without employment contract, undeclared work (absence of social security or badges), long hours work without breaks, wages or even employees being controlled by another person, psychological and physical abuse and child labor.

Labor exploitation is very common to migrants that do not hold documents in the host country. They are exposed to low paid or unpaid jobs, undeclared work or work under inhuman conditions. Especially, in periods of crises such as pandemics (COVID-19), or bankruptcy, the need for work becomes instrumentalized and labor exploitation intensifies. 

Human trafficking can be linked to labor exploitation or sexual exploitation. This form of modern slavery involves any kind of human rights violation as well as gender inequalities. 

Regarding gender and age inequalities, many women with low income are employed in the domestic care sector. A lot of them face human rights violation by their employers such as low salaries, lack of security insurance, bad working conditions and sexual harassment. Migrant women who have a higher level of formal education also face barriers such as racism and prejudices that prevent them from accessing the labor market. 

The age factor arises significant risks. Older women can face obstacles created by societal perceptions and stereotypes while they play vital roles in their households and communities.

How to identify labor exploitation

It is very important for employees to be able to recognize possible labor exploitation signs and take the necessary measures.

  • Salary Delays
  • Undertake tasks that are not within the employees’ competence
  • Extended Working Hours
  • Psychological Violence
  • Undeclared Work

How to report labor exploitation

In Greece, there is an Authority which deals exclusively with labor issues and where victims of labor exploitation can address any violation of labor rights.

The Hellenic Labor Inspectorate, is the enforcement authority of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, intended to guarantee a decent working environment, ensuring the application of labor law in both the labor relations field, as well as occupational safety and health (OSH).

During the complaint submission process, it is necessary for the complainant to accurately provide the following information, so the review is effective:

  • Business or employer name and VAT number
  • Address of the control point
  • Issues to investigate during the audit
  1. Through the single citizen service line 1555
  2. Through the online anonymous complaint service
  3. Through the online registered user complaint service
  4. With a visit or a call to the relevant Inspection Department
  5. By emailing the relevant Inspection Department