Andria Papageorgiou Law Firm: Employment and Labour Law in Cyprus

Andria Papageorgiou Law Firm: Employment and Labour Law in Cyprus

By: Andria Papageorgiou Law Firm

A. Introduction

Cyprus Employment Law is a combination of common laws and statutes that govern the relationship between an employer and employee. Since employment is regarded as a contract, contract law’s standard principles underlay all employment agreements in Cyprus. As such, it is understood that both parties agreed to the terms and conditions of the contract freely and willingly. Several statutory regulations and obligations, such as the Termination of Employment Law of 1967, and collective agreements, complement common law to ensure that employee rights are protected.

B. Employee Rights Safeguarded by the Statute

In addition to honouring contract law, employers are obligated to uphold all employees’ constitutional rights (to work, strike, and be treated equally in the workplace). Furthermore, several statutes related to employment exist to safeguard workers’ rights in Cyprus. The most important is the Termination of Employment Law of 1967. Others include:

  • The Termination of Employment Law of 1967, as amended;
  • The Social Insurance Law of 1980, as amended;
  • The Annual Paid Leave Law of 1967, as amended;
  • The Protection of Maternity Law of 1997;
  • The Minimum Salaries Law, as amended;
  • The Equal Treatment at Work and Employment Law of 2004, as amended;
  • The Health and Safety at Work Law of 1996, as amended;
  • Law 100(I)/2000, providing for an employer’s obligation to inform employees about the conditions applicable to their contract or employment relationship; and
  • The Collective Redundancies Law of 2001.

Employers are also obligated to inform employees of conditions related to the employment relationship or any changes to those conditions.

C. Employment Contracts

The starting point of Employment Law is based on the Law of Contract. An Employment Contract is, however, complemented by the relevant employment law principles.

Freedom of contract allows employers and employees to negotiate the terms of employment and such terms will be considered valid if they do not violate any other law or policy.

Additionally, article 25 of the Cypriot Constitution safeguards the right of individuals to engage and practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

The exercise of this right may be subject to such formalities, conditions, or restrictions as are prescribed by law and relate exclusively to the qualifications usually required for the exercise of any profession or are necessary only in the interests of the security of the Republic or the constitutional order or the public safety or the public order or the public health or the public morals or for the protection of the rights and liberties guaranteed by this Constitution to any person or in the public interest.

The Law is very clear about the obligation of the employer to bring to the employee’s attention detailed information about the Employment Contract within one month from the commencement of the relationship. The information can be delivered by employment contract or by letter of appointment.

As a minimum, an employment contract must contain the following information:

  • The identity of the parties;
  • The place of work and the registered address of the business;
  • The position or the specialisation of the employee;
  • The commencement date of the contract and its duration if it is for a fixed period;
  • Notice periods;
  • Annual leave entitlement;
  • All the payments (salary, bonuses and so on) which the employee may be entitled to and time schedule for their payment;
  • The usual duration of daily or weekly employment and
  • The application of any collective agreements.

Employment Contracts can be written in any language that is understandable to both parties or, if the contract is written in a language that the employee does not understand, its provisions must be orally explained to the employee. However, it is advisable for the employer to obtain the confirmation of an independent professional (for example, a lawyer) that the terms of the contract have been appropriately explained to the employee.

Amendments to an employment contract may only be made with the consent of both parties.

D. Termination of Employment in Cyprus

In Cyprus, the most important employment law related statute is the Termination of Employment Law. It regulates termination of employment, and its primary purpose is to protect employees against dismissal. This law covers all employees, whether in the private or public sector.

According to the Termination of Employment Law of 1967, employers must give adequate notice of termination. However, the notice period varies depending on the length of service:

  • 26 to 52 weeks of service requires a notice period of one week,
  • 52 to 104 weeks of service requires a notice period of two weeks,
  • 104 to 156 weeks of service requires a notice period of four weeks,
  • 156 to 208 weeks of service requires a notice period of five weeks,
  • 208 to 260 weeks of service requires a notice period of six weeks,
  • 206 to 312 weeks of service requires a notice period of seven weeks, and
  • 52 to 104 weeks of service requires a notice period of eight weeks

Employers are obligated to provide a reason for dismissal. If they cannot give a reason or the reason is unjustified, the employee has the right to file a claim of unlawful dismissal.

There are certain circumstances where employers are not lawfully entitled to terminate an employment contract. For instance, your employer legally can’t fire you for being a member of a trade union or a safety committee. Similarly, you can’t be dismissed for filing a complaint in good faith.

Employers are entitled to terminate an employment agreement and dismiss the employee in the following scenarios lawfully:

  • An employee’s work performance is not up to standard;
  • A role has become redundant;
  • Force majeure, war, civil unrest, natural disasters, or an act of God;
  • Non-renewal at the end of a fixed period;
  • An employee is subject to summary dismissal based on their conduct;
  • The relationship between the employee and employer cannot be expected to continue due to the employee’s conduct;
  • An employee commits a disciplinary or criminal offense or behaved indecently;
  • An employee repeatedly violates or ignores the terms of employment.

Termination based on redundancy has to meet certain criteria as well. If a company closes or relocates to a different premise, an employer may terminate the employment agreement lawfully as long as employees are given adequate notice. Technological advances or any other changes in its production method may also cause redundancy. Also in the below cases, a company has grounds to let go of employees on the bases of redundancy:

  • when companies downsize,
  • experience a reduction in profits,
  • if a product is no longer successful in the market.

 E. Maternity and Family Leave Rights

Cyprus’ Protection of Maternity Law of 1997 guarantees female and male employees leave after a child’s birth. Employees are entitled to 18 continuous weeks of maternity leave and up to two weeks of paternity leave.

This statute doesn’t obligate employers to pay wages or benefits to employees on maternity leave. However, it does protect pregnant workers from dismissal due to pregnancy. Additionally, pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off.

F. Minimum Wage

For most employment agreements, the employer and employee agree upon a salary through negotiation. However, certain occupations have a guaranteed minimum wage. The amount is set yearly by the Ministerial Council’s order, which sits annually on the 1st of April. The minimum wage statutes cover the following workers:

  • Shop assistants
  • Clerks
  • School assistants
  • Security guards
  • Nursing assistants
  • Assistant baby and childminders
  • Employees with caring and sanitation duties in senior living communities, private hospitals, and clinics.
  • A minimum hourly wage exists for security guards and cleaners.

G. Discrimination

 Employment and labour law in Cyprus protects employees against all forms of discrimination (age, gender, language, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs). Unequal pay based on sex is prohibited explicitly in Cyprus, where workers are entitled to equal compensation for equal work.

The law also protects employees who file sexual harassment complaints. Sexual harassment complaints should be investigated by a Gender Equality Inspector or the Ombudsman.

In the event of unfairness, employees have two options. They may file a civil claim or file a complaint to the relevant authorities depending on the nature of discrimination. If the discrimination claim is successful, employees are entitled to claim damages, reinstatement, and attorney’s fees.

Part-time and fix-time employees should also be treated equally. Part-time workers are entitled to the same salary and benefits as full-time employees fulfilling the same duties. Employers should pay part-time workers pro-rata to the number of hours worked.

H. Annual Leave

Each employee that has worked 48 weeks within one year is entitled to an annual leave with pay of four weeks. Employees, who work 5 days a week, are entitled to annual leave of 20 working days, whereas employees who work 6 days a week, to annual leave of 24 working days.

Temporary absence from work due to an accident, sickness, maternity, parental leave or leave on grounds of force majeure, is considered as a working period. If the employee had worked for a period less than 48 weeks within the year, the annual leave of four weeks is reduced accordingly. The right of employees to annual leave for more than four weeks under any other law, agreement or custom, is safeguarded by the Annual Holidays with Pay Law.

I. Working Hours

Employees working a five-day week should not exceed 48 hours per week or eight hours a day. This restriction includes overtime. There are circumstances where different limitations apply. The hotel industry is one example. Shift workers also have other limits. Employees are also entitled to a minimum of 11 continuous hours of rest every 24 hours. Also, they have the right to a constant 24-hour rest period each week. Furthermore, employees are entitled to either two consecutive days off with a 14-day cycle.

Similarly, night workers should not, on average, work for longer than eight hours a night in a calendar month.

J. Employee’s data protection rights and employer’s data protection obligation

The employer must ensure that data is processed in accordance with the law and for specific and legitimate purposes. The processed data must be relevant, appropriate and not excessive in relation to the purpose of processing.

Furthermore, for data to be legally processed, the employee must explicitly give his consent, unless the processing is either:

  • Necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the employer is subject;
  • Necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party;
  • At the employee’s request and
  • Necessary to protect the vital interests of the employee.

K. AP Law Firm

Andria Papageorgiou Law firm can assist you with any Employment matter, including, among others, the below services:

  • Inform Clients of their rights and obligations under the law;
  • Advise Clients to any employment issue;
  • Provide Legal Opinion on any employment issue;
  • Drafting of Employment Contracts, Confidentiality Agreements, Management Contracts, Offer Letters and any other document related to the Employment;
  • Reviewing/Drafting Employment Policies and Employment Handbooks;
  • Handling unfair dismissal claims and discrimination cases.
  • Assisting Clients with the process of filing a claim and a court case.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@apapageorgiou.com.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter. Andria Papageorgiou Law Firm is not responsible for any actions (or lack thereof) taken as a result of relying on or in any way using information contained in this article and in no event shall be liable for any damages resulting from reliance on or use of this information.

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