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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Greece

Standard working hours

Greek labor laws establish a balanced workweek framework, ensuring fair treatment for employees. Greek employment law, as outlined in Legislative Decree No. 12/82 (as amended), defines the standard working week as 40 hours, typically spread across five workdays. This translates to a maximum of 8 hours per day.

While the legal framework establishes a standard workweek, there can be exceptions. Industry-specific collective bargaining agreements may dictate different working hours. Additionally, part-time employment contracts can be established for a set number of hours less than the standard workweek.


Greek labor law permits overtime work under specific circumstances and mandates compensation to ensure fair treatment of employees. The core legislation governing overtime work in Greece is Legislative Decree No. 12/82 (as amended). Additional details and specific industry regulations may be found in ministerial decisions or collective bargaining agreements.

There are two key limitations on overtime work:

  • Daily Limit: Overtime work is permitted for a maximum of 3 hours per day.
  • Yearly Limit: The total amount of overtime work allowed per employee in a year is capped at 150 hours.

The compensation for overtime work varies depending on the time of day:

  • Regular Overtime: For overtime hours worked within the standard working day, employees are entitled to an increase of at least 120% of their regular hourly wage (Article 15 of Legislative Decree No. 12/82).
  • Night Overtime: Overtime work performed during nighttime hours requires an even higher compensation rate, with a minimum increase of 125% of the regular hourly wage.

There are some exceptions to the standard overtime compensation rates:

  • Urgent Cases: In urgent situations where exceeding the overtime limits is deemed unavoidable, a reduced overtime pay rate of 60% may be authorized by the labor authorities. However, strong justification is required for such authorization.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements: Industry-specific agreements between employers and employee unions may dictate different overtime compensation rates.

Rest periods and breaks

Greek labor law mandates rest periods and breaks throughout the workday to safeguard employee well-being and prevent burnout.

Statutory Breaks

Legislative Decree No. 12/82 (as amended) establishes minimum break entitlements for employees in Greece. Here's a breakdown:

  • Short Break: All employees are entitled to a minimum break of 15 minutes after every four consecutive hours of work. This break is not considered working time and is unpaid.
  • Extended Break: If the daily working hours exceed six hours, employees are entitled to an additional 30-minute break. Similar to the short break, this extended break is not considered working time and is unpaid.

Scheduling and Flexibility

While the law mandates the minimum duration of breaks, employers and employee representatives can negotiate the specific timing and scheduling. This allows for flexibility in structuring the workday to suit operational needs while ensuring employees receive their designated break time.

Important Note: Regardless of any agreements, breaks cannot be scheduled immediately before or after the start or end of the workday. This ensures employees have a clear distinction between work hours and break time.

Additional Considerations

  • Part-time Workers: Part-time employees with shorter workdays are still entitled to proportionate breaks based on their working hours.
  • Specific Industries: Certain industries may have additional regulations that define break schedules and entitlements beyond the legal minimums.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Nighttime hours in Greece are typically defined through collective bargaining agreements between employers and employee unions. In the absence of a specific agreement, nighttime might generally refer to hours between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. Employees performing night work are entitled to a supplement of at least 25% of their regular hourly wage on top of their base pay. This additional compensation recognizes the potential challenges and disruptions associated with night work schedules. Employers who employ workers at night must inform the Labor Inspectorate to ensure oversight and adherence to labor regulations for night shift workers.

The standard workweek in Greece is 40 hours, typically spread across five workdays. This implies no automatic entitlement to extra pay for weekend work unless stipulated otherwise. Industry-specific collective agreements can dictate different working hours and weekend work arrangements. Some agreements might establish premium pay for weekend work. If weekend work falls within certain limits, the corresponding compensation rates apply. These rates can be even higher for night work on weekends.

Key points to remember are that night shift work requires a premium pay supplement, weekend work itself doesn't guarantee extra pay unless mandated by collective agreements, and both night and weekend work scenarios are subject to oversight by labor authorities.

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