To do business in Greece, it is vital to have a good understanding of its business or work culture. Making the right impression with the right people is the key to success in Greece, and it is important to back this up with the right research on the market and potential business associates.
As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about the Greek work culture, we want to support your global expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all the aspects of the work culture in Greece to start your expansion well-informed.
Work Culture in Greece
Unlike other European Union members, Greek business culture remains traditional and reflects age-old concepts of hierarchy and the significance of relationship networks. Who you know, rather than what you know is what drives business transactions, relationships, and growth in present-day Greece.
Whilst there is a noticeable growth in appreciation of creating a work-life balance and flexible working times and opportunities for remote working, Greece still places significant importance on business etiquette for the smooth operation of businesses. Here are some tips and tricks to use during your first few months:
- Punctuality: it is not particularly important for Greeks – they tend to be late for appointments. Scheduling an appointment is thus not always necessary, but it is courteous.
- Socializing: Greeks enjoy socializing with friends and business associates – they use social settings and meals to build rapport and trust over a long period of time. Allow social conversation to pass before mentioning business to your Greek peers; keep them engaged and be personal about yourself. Some questions may come across as direct or overly personal, but that is not their intention. It is also best to reciprocate and show interest in their personal lives.
- Introductions: When meeting someone new for the first time, smile and make eye contact with them. After a formal introduction, exchange business cards, and make sure to take a considerable moment to examine the card’s contents before putting it away. It might also be best to have a card translated into Greek and present it with the Greek side facing up during the card exchange.
- Gift-giving: In Greece, business associates like to exchange gifts for holidays such as Christmas and Easter, as well as birthdays and name days. These are normally small gifts that are easily reciprocated – a bottle of wine or liquor, office accessories, or fine chocolate. When invited over for dinner to a Greek home, flowers, sweets, or a bottle of wine/liquor are gifts most frequently offered.
- Dress code: It is advised to dress conservatively in business meetings in Greece – a dark suit for men, and professional wear for women, in dark and subtle colors. Depending on the social situation, however, less social clothing is acceptable. In the summer months – since it gets very hot in the summer, it is acceptable for men to wear a shirt with trousers, and women to be lightly dressed, avoiding tight clothing. In Greece, first impressions are largely based on a person’s dress, so it can make a significant difference.
- Formality: In Greece, colleagues often address each other on a first-name basis. However, it is best to the let the other person make the first move in the address, especially when your colleague is older than you or holds a higher position in the company.
- Hierarchy: It still holds some significance in Greek work culture. Final judgement calls are made by the person with the highest status, and authority for most decisions lies with them.
- Flexibility: It is expected and appreciated that one will be flexible with the rules.
Greece Minimum Wage
In 2013, a new law was introduced, with amendments in 2018, which established a new mechanism for calculating the national minimum wage was introduced. The minimum wage is set by the Ministry of Labor after thorough consultation with national social partners. Consultation commences at the beginning of each year, and the final decision is issued at the end of June.
At the beginning of 2019, the national minimum wage was set at EUR 758.3 per month.
Probation in Greece
Under Greek Law, the first 12 months of an indefinite employment contract are considered the probationary period – during which the employer may terminate the employment contract without notice or severance pay (although this varies according to accompanying collective, trade union or work council agreements).
Working Hours in Greece
Full-time employees work 40 hours a week. However, these 40 hours can be divided into:
- 8 hours a day, 5 days a week
- 6 hours and 40 minutes a day, 6 days a week
Employees are also guaranteed a 15-minute break if the workday lasts more than 6 hours.
Overtime in Greece
Employees also have the option to work 45 hours during a 5-day working week, or 48 hours during a 6-day working week – if so, they will be guaranteed overtime pay of 120% of their usual wages. Any working time exceeding nine hours and eight hours per day respectively is considered overtime.
Notice period in Greece
In the first 12 months of an open-ended employment contract, the employee can be terminated without notice or severance pay. After that, a notice must be given. The minimum notice periods are:
- 1-2 years of employment: one month.
- 2-5 years of employment: two months.
- 5-10 years of employment: three months.
- 10+ years of employment: four months.
Redundancy, Termination / Severance in the Greece
If the employer wishes to terminate the employment without notice, he must pay the full compensation. However, if termination takes place with prior notice, the employer is thus obliged to pay half the severance pay amount. Severance payments depend on how long the employee has been at work. The severance pay scale is as follows:
- One full year up to four years: two gross (monthly) salaries.
- Four full years up to six years: three gross (monthly) salaries.
- Six full years up to eight years: four gross (monthly) salaries.
- Eight full years up to ten years: five gross (monthly) salaries.
- Ten full years: six gross (monthly) salaries.
- 11 full years: seven gross (monthly) salaries.
- 12 full years: eight gross (monthly) salaries.
- 13 full years: nine gross (monthly) salaries.
- 14 full years: ten gross (monthly) salaries.
- 15 full years: 11 gross (monthly) salaries.
- Over 16 full years: 12 gross (monthly) salaries.
In Greece, redundancies are defined as dismissals on economic practicability grounds. They are not associated with the employees, but rather with the employer’s decisions concerning the company’s organization and aim to decrease any surplus staff. In case of redundancies, the severance compensation is the same as any other case (unless the employer applies a different policy). Collective redundancies, however, require a different procedure overall.
Pension Plans in Greece
Pensions are provided in Greece through a public scheme, comprising of a national pension (state contributions), and a contributory pension (paid by the employee). The pension age for both men and women is 67 – an employee must qualify with at least 4,500 days of contributions (which is equivalent to 15 years).
Workers, however, can also retire with full pension benefits at the age of 62 if they meet the contribution record of 12,000 working days (equivalent to 40 years).
Other benefits may apply for people who work in strenuous or unhygienic occupations, as well as for women with dependent or disabled children. The minimum old-age pension requires 15 years’ contributions.
Public Holidays in Greece
Employees are also entitled to paid leave for national public holidays, which are announced every year. 14 holidays are regularly adhered to:
- New Year’s Day
- Shrove Monday
- Independence Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- Easter Monday
- Labor Day
- Orthodox Whit Sunday
- Orthodox Whit Monday
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- National Day
- Boxing Day
If employees are required to work on a holiday, they are entitled to daily wages and a 75% bonus. Public holidays falling on a weekend are not celebrated on another day.
Sick Leave in the Greece
Greek workers are entitled to 50% of normal pay for the first three days of illness, which is paid by the employer. If an employee is sick for more than three days, the Greek Social Insurance System (IKA) takes over and pays the rest.
Vacation/Holiday in Greece
An employee’s paid vacation leave in Greece increases according to length of an employee’s service. Employees working five-day weeks are entitled to 20 days in their first year and receive additional days after a certain number of years has been reached. The highest entitlement for an employee is 25 days, with at least ten years of service.
However, leave allowances are increased pro-rota for employees who work six days a week.
Maternity/Paternity Leave in Greece
An employee is entitled to 17 weeks maternity leave – eight before the birth and nine after – which is paid at 100% of their salary. After this, however, a six-month period of special leave may be taken, which is paid at the national minimum wage. Both maternity and special leave are funded by the Greek Social Insurance System (IKA) and the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED).
Paternity Leave is two working days at the time of the birth, which is paid by the employer.
There is also an entitlement to up to four months of unpaid parental leave (per child) for each parent – this may be taken at any time until the child is six years old.
Bonus in Greece
In Greece, there is no single type of bonus payment. Employee bonus payments are associated as incentives or with a distinct purpose:
- Special bonus payments for shift and night work, as well as during the weekends and holidays.
- Annual bonuses regularly paid to the employees: the 13th month salary (Christmas salary – a full month’s salary) and the 14th month salary (Easter and vacation payments – both half a month’s salary)
- Annual bonuses based on employee’s productivity.
- Annual bonuses related to profit-sharing schemes (based on company’s achievements, for high-level employees).
Car allowance Greece
Car allowances are not particularly common in Greece and are mostly applicable to the private sector. Company cars tend to be provided to salesmen and managers, but this varies according to the company and their policies.
Learn more about business opportunities in Greece
To expand into Greece fruitfully, an understanding of the local business culture is vital for your business’ success. With Bradford Jacob’s expertise and knowledge of employment through our Professional Employment Organization (PEO), as well as our experience with Greek customs, law, compliance, and tax regulations, we can assure the recruitment of the right people to make your expansion goals a reality. Contact us to find out more!