Jan 07 2019

A mini-guide to workers’ rights

Published by at 4:55 pm under Απεργίες - Παρεμβάσεις

Facts and employers’ myths about labour status in NGOs
1. Dependent labour or lease contracting?
It is becoming all the more frequent that NGO employers demand their employees to self-insure
themselves, as if they were contractors.
In the vast majority of cases, dependent labour status is implied: When an employee provides
services as demanded by their employer in terms of time, place and manner, their labour has a
dependent status.
Example: Full-time or part-time work at a place and time the employer determines, during which
the availability of the employee and the provision of services is what matters over the result of the
actual service provided.
Employees should be insured with IKA (Social Security), receive holiday bonuses, maternity leave
etc. as well as enjoy full access to leave days and severance payment, as provided by law.
Donors do not oblige NGO managements to offer specific labour contracts to their employees. On
the contrary, all donors demand that NGOs funded by them abide with labour and insurance law.
Self-insurance is not “convenient” for any employee. It is only convenient for employers who
prefer precarious workers whom they can fire whenever they please without having to worry about
severance payment or any other obligations.
2. Receipt for professional expenses
Stipulated for employees who do not provide their services systematically but occasionally, namely
twice every six months. Therefore, this very frequently used status means uninsured -and illegallabour.
Permanent vs Fixed-term contracts
NGO employers prefer fixed-term contracts to permanent employment.
In reality, fixed-term contracts only facilitate the release and collection of funds. Successive fixedterm contracts are usually considered as one permanent-employment contract since the
employees cover the fixed and permanent needs each organisation has.
“Successive” are the contracts signed between the same employer and employee, with
the same -or similar- labour conditions and as long as no more than 45 days pass until
the two parties sign the new contract.
Permanent employment status is established with the uninterrupted employment under the same
employer for at least two years -regardless of contract renewals- or with at least three contract
renewals after the first contract is signed.
Dismissal, termination of contract and severance payment
Every employee who provides dependent labour and has worked for more than a year for a certain
employer is entitled to severance payment when the contract is terminated. The amount due is
doubled if no timely notice has been given to the employee.
Who is entitled to severance payment? Employees with lease contracts in which -howeverdependent labour status is implied (see above, 1.) or with the termination of a fixed-term contract
as long as there is proof that the employee had been covering fixed and permanent needs (see
above, 3.).
Null/illegal/unfair dismissal and revocation
dismissal occurs when no timely written notice or severance payment is given to the sacked
contract worker. In this case, the employer is obliged to revoke the dismissal and pay delinquency
(overdue) salaries to the employee.
Illegal is the dismissal of protected members of trade unions, women on maternity leave and
employees on their annual leave.
Unfair dismissal occurs when the action does not objectively serve the interest of the company
and especially when done on grounds of vindictiveness (against syndicalist action, organising at
the workplace, participation in strike or abstention from work).

6. Holiday and leave bonuses
The payment of bonuses is mandatory to all employees who provide dependent labour (again:
regardless of the contract type they have actually signed). Delay in the payment of Christmas and
Easter bonuses threatens the employer with legal sanctions.
Payment delay
Payment delay occurs all too often in NGOs with the excuse usually being that timely payment is
conditioned by the donor’s funding.
NGO management and employers are the sole responsible part for timely payment of their staff,
regardless of funding status.
Employees are not supposed to address to their company’s donors to receive their salary.
Volunteerism or unpaid and uninsured labour
Volunteerism is
: the voluntary participation in NGO-run activities for a specific period of time,
depending on each person’s availability.
Volunteerism is not: the unpaid yet obligatory presence of employees in their company’s
“obligations” (events, training seminars, conferences etc.) outside of working times. NGO job
advertisements which seek “volunteer programme manager” or “humanitarian studies degree
holder for daily 8-hour voluntary service” are in reality looking for black-market and uninsured
Is whatever I agree to sign in my contract legally binding?
Most labour law provisions are mandatory hence more powerful than possible unfair stipulations in
a two-party contract. To put it more simply, unfair labour conditions set forth in a contract are not
legally binding for an employee, even if they have signed the contract.
Example: Even if an employee agrees to sign a contract which stipulates that they will only receive
salary according to funding flow, that they are not entitled to severance payment/maternity leave
etc. they are not legally bound by signing such a contract. On the contrary, they can claim their
labour rights and demand a recognition of their real status of work.

10. Are there bosses in NGOs after all?
As long as NGO workers do not determine our salaries and conditions of labour, as long as we
keep being intimidated and psychologically threatened to work uninsured and unpaid, there will
always be bosses. Even if it is presented as “management” vis-à-vis “volunteers”, we are always
the employees and they always remain our employers.
Participation in trade unions
Freedom of syndicalist and trade union action as a constitutionally enshrined right is the result of
our collective struggle and demands. No employer shall ever impede their employees from
participating in trade unions. Union members who organise for the improvement of their workplace
are protected against employer vindication. The union can and will intervene in the event of
vengeful targeting against employees or “name-and-shame” practices.

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