Greece

September 2009

Labour Inspection Structure and Organization

Name of institution that manages work issues

Ministry of Employment and Social Protection (YP.A.K.P) (http://www.ypakp.gr)

Departments responsible for Labour Inspection

The Labour Inspectorate Body (S.EP.E) was established, as it is currently, in 1999. Its role is to enforce labour legislation in the private and public sectors, to protect the legal rights of the employees and to secure the health, safety and welfare of workers in Greece. The S.EP.E reports directly to the Minister of Employment and Social Protection and is under the supervision of a Special Secretary, appointed by the Government (art. 28, Ν.1558/1985). The S.EP.E is composed of the Central Labour Inspectorate, 96 regional Social Labour Inspectorate Offices and 52 regional Technical and Medical Labour Inspectorate Offices. The Central Labour Inspectorate is divided into the Service of Special Inspectors and three Directorates: 1) the Directorate of Programming and Monitoring the Technical and Medical Inspection Offices (or better known in English as Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)), 2) the Directorate of Programming and Monitoring the Social Labour Inspection Offices, and 3) the Directorate of Administrational and Technical Support.

The Social Insurance Institution (I.K.A), which belongs to YP.A.K.P, conducts inspections to examine insurance issues and has the authority to impose fines as well.

The Prefectures, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, make visits concerning sanitation issues at enterprises and they impose fines in cases of non- compliance with laws and regulations.

Laws that cover organization and functional composition

  • Presidential Decree No 136/99 on Organisational Planning of S.EP.E (30/06/1999)
  • Act 2639/98 on Establishment of the S.EP.E (02/09/1998)
  • Law No 2874/00 on Promotion of Employment and other provisions
  • Law No 3762/09 on Restructuring of S.EP.E and other organisations settlement under the YP.A.K.P. (15/05/2009)

Scope of Labour Inspection

The role of the social labour inspectors is to control all companies in the private and public sectors, carry out inspections in order to find out if companies comply with labour legislation, examine the requests and complaints of the workers, impose fines or press charges in case of non-compliance, mediate between employers and employees so as to resolve disputes on

labour matters and to provide information on issues of industrial relations and labour legislation. The role of technical and medical labour inspectors is to carry out inspections in order to find out if companies comply with labour legislation, conduct investigations on the cause of death or serious working accidents, examine the requests and complaints of the workers, impose fines or press charges in case of non-compliance and provide information on issues of labour legislation.

Local Divisions

With its headquarters in Athens, the S.EP.E has 16 Directorates managing 96 Social Labour Inspectorate offices and 7 Directorates managing 52 Technical and Medical Labour Inspectorate (OSH) offices. The OSH Directorates are more centralized due to cost issues and lack of personnel. Each office is supervised by a chief who is selected by the HR Department of the Central Directorate.

Programming and communication

Inspection activities are mostly organized by the chief of each regional office in cooperation with the Directorate in charge. In most cases, inspections are held according to the number of complaints by employees, workers and trade unions. Each inspector should conduct at least 7 inspections per month. However, this number tends to be higher for central offices.

Communication between central directorate and regional offices occurs on a daily basis, concerning legal matters, problems which need special consideration, technical support and general practical issues. Regional offices communicate with each other in cases where requests for further inspection of enterprises, which do not belong to their area of responsibility, are forwarded. For example, a labour office can request the OSH department to conduct an inspection of a company where danger in the working environment had been observed.

Current reforms

Recently a new initiative on making labour inspections more efficient and convenient has been introduced. As complaints can be anonymous and the public has the right to complain with a phone-call, a new 4-digit line has been introduced, accessible to every person who requests an inspection in the company that he/she works for. This request is forwarded by the central Directorate to the regional offices respectively and labour inspectors are obliged to carry out the inspection within two days.

Human Resources and Career Development

Permanency of inspectors

The labour inspectors are permanent civil servants. No civil servant with a temporary contract can become a labour inspector. Inspectors follow the Greek Civil Servants’ Code. That means they can be promoted only if they complete a certain number of working years which varies according to the inspectors´ qualifications (i.e. undergraduate level, masters or PhD level). The HRD is responsible for the selection of the chiefs and the directors every three years. The highest level that can be reached is the position of a General Director of the YP.A.K.P.

Selection Process and Background required

Labour inspectors are selected by a state personnel selection commission. Candidates for labour inspection positions are required to have a university degree either in economics, public administration, social studies, or law and at least very good knowledge in at least one European language. Informatics knowledge is a prerequisite too. Candidates for the technical and medical positions are required to hold an undergraduate degree in engineering or medical studies, respectively. The candidates participate in an open written competition and those who receive the highest scores are selected to fill the vacancies. This system has recently been introduced, as in the past candidates were selected only according to their diploma degrees, their work experience in a relevant domain and foreign language diplomas.

The training process begins from the day of appointment to the position of the inspectors and lasts three weeks. It consists of two-week seminars on labour legislation and one week practice at a Labour Inspectorate. At the end of the training, all inspectors have to write a paper about a labour legislation subject.

Visits and Functions

Types of visits

Inspectors can perform either scheduled visits according to complaints or random visits. They carry out inspections without prior notification and whenever needed, day or night or during weekends. Visits are always held by two inspectors, unless there is lack of personnel in a regional office, which can often happen.

Role of preventive measures

A very important authority that all labour inspectors have is to provide information to the public and give advice to people who encounter problems at their jobs. Information is available by mailing and by telephone but the latter is not as effective.

In particular, the OSH inspectors carry out inspections so as to inform employers and employees and advise them on safety and health issues. Also, they provide leaflets and guidelines to employers and employees during inspections.

Programming

The Chief inspector develops a plan on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the number of complaints and the orders given by the central Directorate. At the end of every month each labour office sends a monthly report of the number of accomplished inspections, mediations, successful or not, and every year an annual report is published on the YP.A.K.P´s website. In addition, reports are sent to the Directorate giving information about the daily input of mediation office.

Registries and Reporting of Accidents /Diseases at Work

There is no electronic registry for enterprises at YP.A.K.P. The Treasury and the Social Insurance Institution have their own electronic registry for companies but there is no connection between Ministries or Institutions with YP.A.K.P. Consequently, labour inspectors cannot have access to this database and they usually construct a handwritten registry.

There is a monthly report conducted by OSH inspectors about all statistical data for accidents at work; this data is included in the yearly report, which is published on the YP.A.K.P website.

Sanction and Administration Process

When non compliance with the labour legislation is observed during inspection in an enterprise, a five-day timeframe is given to the owner or the legal representative to prepare a document explaining the reasons for the observed offences, attached with any other documents which might help his position. If labour inspectors do not find his excuse adequate, then they impose fines. The fines range from 500 euro to 50.000 euro (law n. 3672/2009), depending on the importance of the offence and the size of the company. There is no list to specify the exact amount for each offence, so the size of the fine is decided by labour inspectors in cooperation with their chief. The final decision is made by the chief. The documents are then sent to the Directorate which forwards them to the Treasury. When the Treasury informs the offenders about the imposed fine, they must proceed to the Treasury office in order to pay it. The Directorate has the right to increase or decrease the size of the fine but it does not usually happen. Offenders have the right to appeal to the court within 60 days. If they chose to appeal, they must pay 20% of the fine in advance. Then, it depends on the court’s decision whether they have to pay the fine or not.

Apart from imposing fines, inspectors have the authority to sue the offenders to the penal court in case of serious offences. However due to delays of the court system in examining cases, inspectors prefer to simply impose fines.

The Inspectorates´ efforts are oriented towards remedial actions but this goal has not yet been accomplished. That is the reason why it has a more repressive role rather than a remedial one.

Social Dialogue and Labour Inspection

The S.EP.E is a tripartite social dialogue body where employers and employees can request mediation and advice.

The Greek General Federation of Labour (GSEE) was created in 1928 in order to protect the rights and interests of Greek workers and employees. Therefore it negotiates the minimum salary in Greece and, whenever is needed, it incites strikes. The GSEE cooperates with YP.A.K.P and numerous Greek and foreign organizations, presenting problems that employees encounter and assist in resolving them.

There are several trade unions to which employees can refer to, so as to receive advice and ask for support. Representatives from trade unions have the right to be present during inspections or the mediation process.

The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), which represents Greek companies, cooperates with GSEE and various organisations.

ILO Conventions Ratified

Greece ratified Convention No 81 in 1955 but has neither ratified Convention No 129 nor Convention No 178.