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Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Greece

Difference employees and contractors

In Greece, the distinction between employees and independent contractors is of significant importance as it impacts the rights, benefits, and obligations of both parties involved.

The Control Test

Greek labor law does not provide a single, definitive test to distinguish between employees and contractors. However, courts often rely on the control test established in case law. This test evaluates the level of control an employer exerts over the worker.


An employer has the right to control various aspects of an employee's work, including the method and manner of work performance (e.g., specific tools, work hours), integration into the business (performing core functions of the business), and provision of equipment and materials.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor, on the other hand, has more autonomy and control over their work. The employer is primarily concerned with the end result rather than the specific methods used to achieve it.

Additional Factors

Apart from control, courts also consider other factors when evaluating worker classification. These include economic dependence (does the worker rely on the employer for a significant portion of their income?), investment (does the worker invest their own resources such as equipment and tools in performing the work?), and opportunity for profit or loss (can the worker take on additional clients or projects, or are they limited to working solely for the employer?).

Importance of Classification

The correct classification of workers is crucial for both employers and contractors. Misclassifying an employee as a contractor can lead to liabilities for unpaid wages, social security contributions, and other benefits for employers. For contractors, being wrongly classified as an employee can deny them tax benefits associated with running their own business and limit their control over their work.

Independent contracting

Independent contracting is a flexible and autonomous path for skilled individuals in Greece's growing economy. Understanding contract structures, negotiation practices, and prevalent industries for independent contractors is crucial to navigate this path successfully.

Contract Structures

A well-defined contract is essential for independent contractors in Greece. Here are some common structures to consider:

  • Fixed-price contracts: These contracts establish a pre-determined fee for the entire project, regardless of the time taken to complete it. This structure incentivizes efficiency for the contractor but can be risky if unforeseen challenges arise.
  • Time-based contracts: These contracts set a rate per hour, day, or week for the contractor's services. This approach offers flexibility in project duration but requires clear timekeeping records.
  • Performance-based contracts: Payment hinges on achieving specific milestones or deliverables outlined in the agreement. This structure can incentivize quality work but necessitates clearly defined performance metrics.

The most suitable contract structure depends on the project scope, risk tolerance, and desired payment terms for both parties.

Negotiation Practices

Effective negotiation is key to securing favorable terms as an independent contractor:

  • Clearly define deliverables and timelines: Set clear expectations for the project scope, timeframe, and expected outcomes to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Negotiate fees: Research industry standards for similar services in Greece and negotiate a fair rate that reflects your expertise and experience.
  • Payment terms: Establish clear payment schedules, including milestone payments if applicable, and secure a reliable payment method.
  • Termination clauses: Outline the terms under which either party can terminate the contract and any associated fees or penalties.

Common Industries for Independent Contractors

Independent contracting flourishes in various sectors of the Greek economy:

  • Information Technology (IT): Web developers, software engineers, and IT security specialists are in high demand for project-based work.
  • Creative Industries: Graphic designers, writers, editors, and photographers can find freelance opportunities in advertising, marketing, and media.
  • Consulting: Business consultants, financial advisors, and HR specialists offer their expertise on a project or retainer basis.
  • Tourism and Hospitality: Tour guides, freelance translators, and seasonal hospitality workers can leverage their skills through independent contracting.

The rise of the gig economy in Greece opens doors for independent contractors across various industries.

Intellectual property rights

In Greece, freelancers have a wealth of opportunities, but it's crucial to safeguard their intellectual property (IP) rights. Understanding ownership and usage rights ensures fair compensation for creative work.

Default Ownership

Greek copyright law (Law 2121/1993 on Copyrights) generally grants ownership of original creative works to the author (freelancer) by default. This applies to various outputs, such as written works (articles, reports, scripts), artistic creations (illustrations, photographs, designs), and software code. This legal framework empowers freelancers as the initial rights holder, allowing them to control how their work is used.

Contractual Agreements

Freelance contracts play a vital role in shaping IP ownership in Greece. Both parties can deviate from the default ownership rule through a written agreement. If the client desires ownership of the freelancer's work, the contract should include a clause explicitly transferring copyright ownership. This should specify the scope of transferred rights (exclusive or non-exclusive). Even if the client doesn't own the copyright, the contract can grant them specific usage rights. This might include the right to reproduce, distribute, or modify the work for a particular purpose. Even when transferring copyright ownership, Greek law typically allows freelancers to retain certain moral rights, such as the right to be identified as the author. A well-drafted contract ensures clarity and protects the interests of both parties. Consulting a lawyer specializing in IP law is highly recommended for freelancers dealing with complex projects or valuable creations.

Additional Considerations

Freelancers should also consider the following points:

  • If a freelancer uses pre-existing copyrighted material (e.g., stock photos), they need to ensure they have the proper licenses to use such material in the final product delivered to the client.
  • In specific situations, Greek law might classify a work as "made for hire" if it fulfills specific criteria set by law. Under such circumstances, ownership might automatically transfer to the commissioning party. Consulting a lawyer can help freelancers assess this risk.
  • Freelancers often handle confidential information belonging to their clients. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are crucial tools to protect such information and prevent its unauthorized disclosure.

Tax and insurance

Freelancing in Greece offers a path to autonomy, but it also comes with its own set of tax and insurance obligations.

Tax Obligations for Freelancers

As a freelancer in Greece, you are responsible for managing your own taxes. Here's an overview:

  • Income Tax: Freelancers pay income tax on their net profits, which is income minus deductible business expenses. The tax rates are progressive and range from 0% to 44%, depending on your annual income level. These rates are outlined in the Income Tax Code (Ν. 4172/2013).
  • Social Security Contributions: Freelancers are not automatically enrolled in social security. However, they can voluntarily contribute to the Social Security Institution (EFKA) to receive benefits like pension and healthcare coverage.
  • Registration: If you earn above a specific threshold (currently €30,000 per annum), you are required to register with the tax authorities and obtain a Tax Identification Number (ΑΦΜ).

Insurance Options for Freelancers

As a freelancer, you have more flexibility with insurance options:

  • Health Insurance: Public health insurance is available through EFKA. However, you can also opt for private health insurance for potentially broader coverage.
  • Pension Insurance: Contributing to EFKA is voluntary for freelancers. You can also opt for a private pension plan to build your retirement savings.
  • Other Insurances: Depending on your needs, you can consider additional insurances like professional indemnity insurance or business interruption insurance.
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