Greece - Article 27

Article 27

Measures to support employers
Measures to support workers with disabilities
Discrimination
Employment on the open labour market
Employment in the supported / sheltered sector
Employment in the public sector
Employment of blind and partially sighted women
Self-employment
Vocational rehabilitation and training
Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities
Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities
Vocational counselling
Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment
Looking for a job
Legal recognition of disabled worker status
Trade unions and workers with disabilities
 

Measures to support employers

OAED, the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (http://www.oaed.gr), implements National Policy programmes for promoting the employment of disabled people through funding:

  1. Businesses for creating new places of employment by employing a person with disability for a 4year period; the first 3 years employers are funded (full-time: 25€/working day, part-time: 15€/working day) + 1 year which the business is required to sustain the employee within its workforce without being funded),
  2. Necessary adjustments in the workplace up to 90% of cost; with max total cost 2,500€ for each one of the adjustments (e.g. ramps, accessible toilets, accessible work-tables, etc.), and
  3. Disabled people that are self- employed to create small businesses (2 years).

There are similar activation policies for the whole unemployed population, which disabled people can also apply for.

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Measures to support workers with disabilities

Employees with disabilities are given the choice of a flexible working timetable, as well as special facilitations when weather conditions do not allow them to come to work, arrive on time, or stay till the end of their shift.

According to the Circular of the Ministry of Internal, Public Administration & Decentralization (September 2006, "Data regarding the number of employees with disabilities that work within the Greek public sector " Problems in exercising their duties " Guidelines for dealing with the problems"), the public bodies and services are obliged to create the suitable working conditions for the employees with disabilities. Particularly, in workplaces special technological equipment has to be available when needed (e.g. computers with special software & hardware, voice dictation systems, screen readers, special telephone operators for employees with vision problems), and work environment is important to be bright enough for facilitating employees with vision difficulties or deaf people who communicate by sign language or are "lip-readers"). The Workplace also has to be accessible for wheelchair users (e.g. workstations with adjustable dimensions, accessible toilets).

A very important Greek law is the L.3488/2006 (Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic 191/A, published: 11/09/2006) which regards the "Equal treatment irrespective of gender regarding accessibility in the field of employment, vocational training & evolution, terms & conditions of work and other relevant clauses".

The new Greek Employee Code protected by the Law 3528/2007 (Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic 26/A, published: 09/02/2007), aims at the establishment of equable rules that concern the hiring process and the occupational conditions of the public administration employees according to the principals of equality, meritocracy and social solidarity, and the need of ensuring the maximum of their work performance. Moreover, in Article 7 is mentioned that the employees are being hired based on whether their health enables them to perform the implementation of the duties of the corresponding place. The lack of physical abilities does not prevent the hiring process, provided that the employee, having the suitable and justified technical support, can fulfill the duties of their place. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that in Article 153 of the current law, the employee loses their job after the decision of the official council, if a physical or intellectual disability occurs, according to articles 100, 165 and 167 of the Code. The employee does not lose their job if their disability allows them to exercise other kind of duties.

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Discrimination

In 2005, the principle of equal treatment was finally legally entrenched in Greece (according to the European Directive 2000/43/EK and the Directive 2000/78/EK). In particular, the Equality Law 3304/2005 (Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic 16/A, published: 03/02/2005): "Equal treatment irrespective of racial or nationality origin, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation", adjusts the general frame that concerns the anti-discrimination, as follows:

The Law 3304 forbids any direct or indirect discrimination due to: a) racial or nationality origin, providing protection in the field of employment, vocational training, social insurance, education, sanitary care, as well as access to goods and services, and b) religion, disability, age or sexual orientation, providing protection in the field of employment and vocational training.

Based on this law, the offense and every other insulting action, as well as the assignment of a discriminating action, are also considered as discriminations. The law also foresees reasonable adjustments at the workplace in order to accommodate accessibility requirements of disabled employees.

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Employment on the open labour market

A recent survey by MDA Hellas under the partnership "I-nsist" (2007), presented a picture of employment of disabled people in the open market.

According to Greek legislation private companies with more than 50 staff are required to employ disabled people at the percentage of 8% of the total staff. Nevertheless, the fact that only 20% of the surveyed companies with more than 50 staff employed disabled people shows that the law is not implemented.

Only 20% of private businesses had ramps inside their building and another equal percentage provided accessible toilets.

Furthermore, 60% of the companies that do not employ disabled people stated that they would do so only under the condition that the salary of the disabled employee was co-funded or entirely paid by the state. This is indicative of negative perceptions of disabled people as employees, or disbelief about their skills. The change of attitudes and culture is crucial here in overturning employment only under "special conditions" to employment on equal terms.

A poll carried out by an independent research company (VPRC) between 8/12/2003 and 16/01/2004, confirms equally low levels of employment of disabled people in the private sector. Among 360 businesses that were surveyed, with 32,929 staff in total, there were only 67 disabled employees (0.2%). When asked the reasons why companies employed disabled people, 38% of the companies replied that they did so as they were required by the law, 33.3% as according to their own policy with regards to Corporate Social Responsibility, 9.5% because they entrusted the high performance of the employee, and 9.5% for random reasons.

Even though 55% of the companies of the sample were aware of specific funding programs for the employment of disabled people in the private sector, only 14.6% had considered to employ a disabled person.

Finally, more recent research carried out by the Equal national thematic networks (2nd Cycle) in June 2008 in the private sector regarding "managing difference in the workplace" has been recently published.

The survey was conducted on a sample of 98 companies employing in total 18.487 people. The findings show that only 1.17% of all staff belong to any of the 14 vulnerable group categories (among them disabled people, immigrants, drug rehabilitated people, ex-prisoners and long-term unemployed).

In particular, 72,4% of employers said they would not employ a person with mental health problems, while 32.7% would not employ people with physical impairments. In theory, however, 96% of companies believe corporal social responsibility would serve better the goals of the company for development and profit, while 96% also believe that people from vulnerable social groups should be given more opportunities for employment. In particular, 88.8% believe that the private sector is as responsible as the state for promoting the social and economic inclusion of people from excluded social groups.

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Employment in the supported / sheltered sector

Sheltered Workshops run in most municipalities of Greece under the 2646/1998 law and the Jurisdiction of the National System for Social Care. The workshops are developed as alternative but viable forms of employment. They are in the majority of the cases orientated in making and selling small craft, such as gifts, jewellery, handmade rugs, candles, etc.

Within the field of mental health, legislation (L.2716/99) has enabled the operation of sheltered workshops for people with mental health problems into social enterprises, which run like productive and commercial units at the same time as being Mental Health units for the support, therapy and inclusion of people with mental health problems. The enterprises run with national and EU funds, donations, as well as income from sales, can be active in any industrial sector, while members retain limited legal responsibility. There is no official record of the number of social enterprises running in Greece, however the National Centre for Vocational Orientation mentions nine (9) examples of such social enterprises across Greece, most of which are orientated in selling small craft, and one active in gardening, bakery and in running a restaurant.

Finally, there are more than 50 Centres of Vocational Training, and more than 20 Specialized Centres of Vocational Training for disabled people across most municipalities of Greece, established by law (2648/98). The Centres are services under the jurisdiction of the Institute of Social Protection and Solidarity, established by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity as an agency for research, evaluation, and specialized implementations in the field of social policy.

The Centres aim to promote employment, through vocational training that corresponds to particular needs of the current labour market. They include social support and counselling to encourage the entrance or re-entrance of long-term unemployed and vulnerable groups to the labour market. Furthermore, the Centres implement programmes co-funded by the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity and EU, with regards to employment and vocational training. Within the period 2004-2006, 23,000 unemployed benefited, among which 5,695 were disabled people. Vocational Training programs lasted between 150 hours to 400 hours and were orientated towards professions in health and welfare, finance and administration, informatics, tourism, farming sector, and technical professions. Disabled participants received 4.99€/hour, compared to 3.52€/hour that the general population received.

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Employment in the public sector

The report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (2007) follows-up the level of compliance of public services with their duty to submit on a yearly basis plans for promoting accessibility of public buildings, within specific timeframe, and under monitoring by the state. The study is based on the case of public services in the municipality of Larisa. The limited sample of the study is a considerable drawback in monitoring implementation of the legal duty, firstly, and secondly in appreciating the extent of inaccessibility of public services.

The majority of the public buildings assessed have partial accessibility, which ends most of the times with the placement of a ramp. The elevators, grails, stands, parking spaces and WC accessible to disabled people exist only in few public services, where they do not always match to given standards of accessibility.

Furthermore, most of the services, despite their shortcomings in terms of accessibility, do not have specific action plans for the necessary adjustments. Despite legislative regulation (article 28 of Law 2831/2000) that requires measures to secure accessibility, public buildings are not suitably adjusted.

Moreover, the public services assessed did not operate a distinct unit to oversee implementation of accessibility standards as required by law (article 12 Law 3230/2004 (Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic 44/Α/11-2-2004) or the units were not operating properly due to lack of staff and strategic planning.

The recommendations laid out in the study involved the mobilization of the ministerial units responsible for accessibility issues to provide constant information to the relevant units within public services regarding this, through internal flow of information but also through information campaigns. Furthermore, they are urged to participate in the planning of the necessary adjustments to the buildings falling under their jurisdiction. They should initiate actions but also penalties for public services failing to comply.

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Employment of blind and partially sighted women.

According to the National Reform Programme 2005-2008 of Greece (Implementation Report 2007, October 2007), and with respect to the promotion of women's employment, in all regulatory public administration deeds (concerning the implementation of vocational training programmes, counselling, supporting services or employment promotion programmes) there is a quota of 60% in favour of women in all interventions carried out through the O.P. “Employment and Vocational Training”. A special integrated intervention has been designed and is being currently implemented, combining counselling on how to enter into the labour market by either acquiring work experience, subsidization of an employment position, or setting up an independent business activity. By this special programme, a total number of 3,880 women will be benefited. In addition, women's participation is promoted with increased incentives and specific quotas in all of OAED's programmes. It is worth mentioning that in all New Self-Employed Programmes, women who have children under 6 years old, or who take care of relatives with disabilities, are given the option of using their own residence as the headquarters of their enterprise. As a result, a total number of 40,500 women benefited from the employment and self employment programmes during the period 1.1.2006 – 30.4.2007.

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Self Employment

Disabled people that are self- employed to create small businesses (2 years). There are similar activation policies for the whole unemployed population, which disabled people can also apply for.

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Vocational rehabilitation and training

There are more than 50 Centres of Vocational Training, and more than 20 Specialized Centres of Vocational Training for disabled people across most municipalities of Greece, established by law (2648/98). The Centres are services under the jurisdiction of the Institute of Social Protection and Solidarity, established by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity as an agency for research, evaluation, and specialized implementations in the field of social policy.

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Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities.

see 'measures to support employers', above

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Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities

The most important Greek law on the field of Employment is the Law 2643/98 “Provision for the employment of special social groups and other clauses”(Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic 220/Α), which defines the quota scheme for the private and the public sector.

This law forecasts the obligatory placement of individuals from protected social groups to companies of private sector, public enterprises and organizations, but also in public services and local-government bodies, via objective criteria of placement based on age, familial & economic conditions, formal qualifications and percentage of disability. (Note: The “disability percentage” is an official tool intended to represent the extent of disability which also corresponds to different disability entitlements. The percentage is decided by statutory commissions within social security bodies on the basis of medical information for each individual case.)

According to this law, in the Greek private sector the enterprises which have more than 50 employees are obliged to cover 8% of their staff with employees with disabilities and other socially sensitive groups. In the public sector, the corresponding percentage is 5%.

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Vocational counselling.

see 'Vocational rehabilitation and training' above.

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Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment.

Employment and New Technology

In 1990 the Lighthouse for the Blind organized the new Computer Department, giving many individuals the opportunity to improve their work conditions and access to knowledge and entertainment.

Other Professions

Today a small number of Musicians, Teachers and Lawyers are employed in the Legal Aid system or as self-employed professionals, supplementing the spectrum of employment of visually-impaired individuals today in Greece. Also the profession of Physical Therapist is gaining ground as a preference of visually-impaired individuals.

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Looking for a job

The Lighthouse for the Blind, via Social Service, supports and helps blind individuals to acquire a job.
Athinas 17,
Kallithea, 176 73
tel. : +30 210 9415222
fax : +30 210 9415271

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Legal recognition of disabled worker status

The individuals with minimum disability percentage 50% -provided that they are registered in OAED's records of the unemployed- are included in the categories of persons that are protected under the Law 2643/1998, for which is forecasted special hiring process.

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Trade unions and workers with disabilities.

Not Available

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Sources
http://www.disabled.gr/lib/?p=24259
http://www.disabled.gr/lib/?p=24289
http://www.scie-socialcareonline.org.uk/profile.asp?guid=638dd1fa-5488-4f4e-aa19-c80b2a5ab820
http://www.fte.org.gr/html/worke.htm