The primary objective behind all labor law legislation has been to protect the rights of the workers against large companies which exercise enormously disproportional power in the dealings between them. Apart from governing the employee and employer relationship by setting standards and regulations for contracts, wages, work hours etc, the employment laws also make provisions for the general health and well-being of the employees like in the case of maternity laws or compensation laws.
In Cyprus the foremost authority ensuring equal treatment of all works regardless of their race, sex, creed, nationality etc, is the Constitution itself. There has been further specific legislation which deals with particular aspects of employment. Cyprus is also a signatory to numerous major conventions and treaties on labor rights protection, both in the EU and globally.
Labour Law Legislations
The primary authority in employment matters is the Department of Labour Relations. Right to work is guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 28 confers protection against any form of discrimination. This means both foreign and resident workers are treated equally under the constitution.
Ever since becoming an EU member Cyprus has also started to adhere to the EU labor law legislation and conventions.
As all legal employment involves some sort of agreement between parties the provisions of Contract Law, Cap. 149 apply to all employment matters. Some of the main pieces of legislation regulating employment relationships in the country are –
- Termination of Employment Law 1967
- Annual Paid Leave Law, 1967
- Maternity Protection Law, 1997
- The Employer’s Obligation to inform Employees of the Particulars of their Contract of Employment Law, 2000
- Safety and Health at Work Law (89), 1996
- The Organisation of Working Time Law, 2002
- The Part-Time Employees (Elimination of Unfavourable Treatment) Law, 2002
- Equal Treatment at Work and Employment Law, 2004
- Fixed Term Work Employees (Elimination of Unfavourable Treatment) Law, 2003
- Social Security Laws
- The Collective Redundancies Law, 2001
- The Safeguarding and Protection of Employees Rights in the Event of Transfer of Undertakings, businesses or Parts Thereof Law, 2003
Some of the treaties and conventions to which Cyprus is a signatory are –
- Forced Labour Convention, 1930
- Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949
- Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976
- Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, 1925
- Protection of Wages Convention, 1949
- Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975
- The Discrimination (Employment & Occupation) Convention, 1958
Legal precedents also have a major role in deciding the outcome of a dispute. Some of the major case laws are –
- Cyprus Tourism Organization v. the Republic of Cyprus through the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance
- Andrey Filinov and CH. Aloneftis Enterprises Ltd v. the Republic of Cyprus
- Alexandros Phylaktou v. the Republic of Cyprus
In matters related to breach of contract the aggrieved can simply take the case to a district court which has territorial jurisdiction. In a matter where the dispute is concerning the termination of an employee and the relationship between the employer and employee in general, the Industrial Disputes Tribunal exercises exclusive jurisdiction. The Tribunal also exercises jurisdiction in case of compensation disputes unless the amount claimed is more than 2 years’ salary in which case the case lies with the District Court. It also hears cases concerning motherhood protection laws and sexual harassment at the workplace. Appeals, of course, lie to higher courts and finally to the Supreme court of Cyprus.
The Role of the Employer
Cyprus law doesn’t require an employment contract to be in writing. However, this is rectified by The Employer’s Obligation to inform Employees of the Particulars of their Contract of Employment Law of 2000. This law makes it mandatory for the employer to share, in writing, certain set particulars about the terms of employment with the employee, within a month of commencement of the employment. Some of these essential details are the place of their work; their duties and responsibilities, the grade and category of their work, as well as the content and object of their work; the starting date of the employment contract and, in case of a fixed-term contract, its probable duration; the duration, method, and time of paid leave to which the employee is entitled; the probation period, if applicable; everything regarding the remuneration of the employee and payment schedule; the daily or weekly work duration; and the details regarding any collective agreements that govern the employment terms. Employers are also required to set-up work councils when community-scale businesses are involved.
The Employment Contract
There is a clear distinction in law between a contract-of-service which is an employment contract and a contract-of-services which are for independent contractors. The employment laws don’t apply to the latter. An employment contract usually has the following details – the name and addresses of both the employer and employee, the address of the workplace, the remuneration, position of the employee, the duration of the employment, notice period, off days, leave days etc.
Wages are usually decided via individual contracts but since the 1st of April in 2012, the Minimum Wage Order of 2012, which applies to sales-persons, clerks, school aids, child and infant caregivers, nursing aids, and care workers states that their minimum wage is EUR 870, which is increased to EUR 924 after six months of employment with the same employer. For security guards, the minimum hourly salary is EUR 4,90, which is increased to EUR 5,20 after six months of employment with the same employer. For business cleaners, the minimum hourly salary is EUR 4,55, which is increased to EUR 4,84 after six months of employment with the same employer.
Rights of the Employees
Employees are protected by specific legislation which make provisions for maximum working hours, minimum wages, notice periods, maternity benefits etc. The maximum working hours per week for almost all types of work cannot exceed 48 hours. The employer must also provide women employees maternity leave of at least 18 weeks.
It is essential for the employer to give proper notice to the employee in case of termination. The minimum notice period depends on the length of continuous employment of the employee. For 26-51 weeks – one-week notice, 52-103 weeks – two weeks’ notice, 104-155 weeks – four weeks’ notice, 156-207 weeks – five weeks’ notice, 208-259 weeks – six weeks’ notice, 260-311 weeks – seven weeks’ notice, and for a continuous employment of more than 312 weeks the notice must be given at least eight weeks in advance. The only exception is when the employee has indulged in serious indiscipline or criminal activity, also, no notice is required in the probation period. Employees have the rights to approach the court against unlawful termination and to get damages for the violation.
The Protection of Salaries Law states that employers must pay their employees their salaries on a weekly or monthly basis, depending upon the terms stipulated in the employment contract. In case of a delay, the employee can file a written complaint to the inspector of the Department of Labor Relations. Should an alleged violation not be settled in that case, the employee can apply for a hearing at the Labor Disputes Court.
Employees have complete protection against payment of disproportional remuneration due to discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, or nationality. This extends to any sort of discrimination in the workplace too. The employees’ right to join and form unions is protected by Article 21 of the Constitution itself.
We Can Help
Simon Zenios & Co has represented numerous clients successfully in matters relating to labor laws. We have extensive experience in dealing with employment contracts and labor regulations. We have excellent personnel for representing both employees as well as employers. Due to the contractual nature of employment, general contract law often applies; however, a number of other factors will dictate the more specific legal regulations that may be applicable in any given situation. We tailor our work to each of our clients’ cases and needs in order to ensure that we offer the best services possible within compliance with Cyprus law.
Our firm can offer you legal advice with solid theoretical foundations that are commercially astute, exact, accurate, and as cost-effective as possible. Aside from the aforementioned, we can offer more detailed information on a number of issues related to employment law, as well as assist you and provide services on any related matters, including:
- Contracts of employment
- Sexual harassment
- Maternity issues
- Health and safety
- Minimum salary
- Memberships with trade unions
- Unlawful dismissal
- Unemployment benefit
- Company policies
- Crisis Situations
- Restrictive covenants
- Dispute resolution
- Correspondence and negotiation with government bodies
For any queries regarding employment laws or any other legal matter under the sun contact us here.