Working in Greece?
Business Etiquette in Greece
Greek Business Culture
When meeting someone for the first time, shake hands firmly, smile and make eye contact. There is no formal ritual when it comes to exchanging business cards in Greece, although it is a good idea to have one side translated into Greek and present the business card with this side facing up.
It is important to dress in a professional and stylish manner, especially when meeting business associates for the first time, as great value is placed on first impressions. Colleagues often address each other on a first name basis, although it is best to let the other person make the first move, especially when they are older than you or hold a higher position in the company.
Doing Business in Greece
As Greek culture revolves around eating and drinking, business is often conducted over coffee or lunch. These meetings are an integral part of developing a successful business relationship. A moderate amount of small talk usually takes place before moving to the business aspect of a meeting. It is important not to rush this along, and allow your Greek business partner to decide when they are ready to get down to business.
Good topics for small talk include general questions about a person’s background, family and career. When doing business with a company for the first time, it is not unusual for it to take several meetings before business is discussed, as Greeks are generally cautious about who they do business with and want to develop a relationship of trust, getting to know a potential business partner before making any decisions.
Greek culture is one grounded in negotiation and haggling. Meetings will often become loud and chaotic, and passionate debate is encouraged. In business, and life in general, Greeks have a very emotional, almost theatrical, style of communication and will often use hand gestures for emphasis. You may have to be very assertive to get your point across. This lively communication style is usually good-natured, however, and should not be mistaken for aggressiveness.
Greek Labor Laws
The majority of Greek contracts are open-ended. The normal Greek work week comprises 40 hours. When you start a new job, the first two months are usually a probationary period, during which either party can terminate the employment contract without penalty. To terminate an open-ended contract, an employer has a prior-notice period of up to four months. The amount of severance indemnity has been determined at a maximum of 12 salaries for 16 years of work.
Employees earn 125% of their wage for the first five hours of additional work per week (known as “extra work”) and 150% for each additional hour thereafter (classed as “overtime”). The legal annual leave allowance is set at 20 days, increasing incrementally up to 26 days per year after 25 years of work. Greek companies also pay employees for six public holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s.
New mothers receive a total of 17 weeks of maternity leave, eight weeks before childbirth and nine weeks afterwards. If the mother works and does not take advantage of her legal entitlement to leave after the baby is born, than the father is entitled to take this period of leave. Additionally, for 30 months after returning to work, either the mother or the father may work one hour less per day without receiving a reduction in pay.
Social Security in Greece
As in many other European countries, social security contributions are mandatory in Greece. These contributions are deducted directly from your paycheck. Both employers and employees contribute a share to the social insurance system. These contributions help finance the healthcare system as well as other benefits, such as pension and unemployment benefits. The employee contribution is about 16% of one’s salary, while the employer pays about twice that amount.
The largest public social security organization in Greece is the Social Insurance Institute (IKA — Ίδρυμα Κοινωνικών Ασφαλίσεων), which covers about 50% of the workforce. The second and third largest social insurance providers are OGA, which insures those employed in the agricultural sector, and OAEE, the insurance company for the self-employed.
Please visit the website of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Welfare (in Greek) for up-to-date information on any changes in the laws and regulations regarding the Greek social security system.
The pension system has been targeted by Greece’s creditors, and the IMF has asked for a ceiling of 3,000 EUR per month for retirement pensions. So far, this has not been put in place.
AMKA – Your Social Security Number
In order to take advantage of your social security benefits, you will need to apply for an AMKA (Αριθμος Μητρώου Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης), or social security, number. You can apply for this number at your nearest KEP (Citizens Service Center) or AMKA office. You will need to bring your passport and your certificate of familial situation (Πιστοποιητικό Οικογενειακής Κατάστασης) with you. This certificate verifies your family status and can be requested through the KEP.
If you already possess a similar document, it must be officially translated into Greek. A birth certificate must be submitted for dependent minors. You will then be issued an AMKA card. It is important not to confuse this number with your taxpayer identification number, as these are two separate numbers in Greece. See the AMKA website for further important information.
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