Labour Rights in English
- An introduction in employment contracts
- Why is it important to have an employment contract?
- What information should an employment contract include?
- What are the types of employment contracts?
- When the contract can be terminated?
An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee whereby the latter offers their services to the employer in exchange for a salary. Any employment relationship between an employer and a worker must be documented through a contract.
The Department of Labour provides samples of contracts for third-country national (TCN) workers for specific sectors here: https://cutt.ly/EklBDSL. The approval of a work (temporary) permit is granted by the Civil Registry and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior.
The employment contract outlines both the rights and obligations of the employer and employee and determines the type of employment (permanent, temporary, internship). The probation period is mostly set at 26 weeks, however, it can be as long as 104 weeks. According to the law, both the employer and employee can terminate the contract without notice during the probation period. However, the probation period should be clearly stated on the contract if someone wishes to terminate the contract after the 26-week period.
An employment contract needs to at least clarify the following information, according to minimum standards set by the European Union (EU):
- the identity of the parties in the contract (employer, employee);
- the place of work and the registered address of the business or the home address of the employer;
- the position or the specialisation of the employee, their grade, the nature of their duties and the object of their employment;
- the date of commencement of the contract or the employment relationship and its anticipated duration if this is for a fixed time;
- notice periods;
- the duration of any annual leave to which the employee is entitled, as well as the manner and time in which it may be taken;
- the time limits which must be observed by the employer and the employee in the event of termination of employment, either by consent or unilaterally;
- all types of remuneration to which the employee may be entitled and the time schedule for payment;
- the usual duration of the employee’s daily or weekly employment; and details of any collective agreements which govern the terms and conditions of the employment.
Per Cypriot law, the employer must provide this information in written form no later than a month after an employee has been hired.
- Permanent (open-ended duration until the employer or employee terminate their contract agreement)
- Temporary – employment is agreed for a specific and predetermined period
- Internship – A contract outlining a learning period at a business in order for the employee to acquire a skill. It can be paid or unpaid.
Third-country nationals (TCNs) can be employed in five categories: highly qualified personnel, unskilled workers, seasonal workers, in companies of foreign interests and employees transferred within the same company.
A contract can be terminated any moment by the employer or employee during the agreed probation without granting notice.
The dismissal of an employee without notice is allowed in the following scenarios:
A) inappropriate and violation of code of conduct
B) the employee carried out a criminal offense in the performance of their duties
C) consistent or serious breach or misdemeanor of employment regulations.
Other reasons for dismissal by providing relevant evidence include:
A) insufficient performance
B) conclusion of the contract
C) employee is at retirement age
D) redundant staff
- Healthcare in Cyprus
- When are you included into the national health incurrence?
- Services covered by the GHS
- Private health insurance for non-EU employees
- Sickness and parenthood benefits
- Unemployment benefits and where to go
- Is there any social/financial assistance?
- Can foreigners apply for financial assistance?
Health services in Cyprus are delivered by the new General Health System (GHS), a universal health system, which as of June 2019, has been under implementation. The aim of the GHS is to provide universal population health coverage, improve accessibility and address previous inefficiencies in service delivery.
GHS aims to address coverage gaps by opening up healthcare (primary, outpatient and inpatient) for all Cypriot citizens, European Union (EU) citizens, third-country nationals (TCNs) with permanent residence permit, TCNs who are contributing to the social insurance system as well as recognised refugees and persons with status of subsidiary protection.
To register on GHS, visit: https://registration.gesy.org.cy/#/registration.
The GHS system is operating under a three-fold contribution system, namely, co-contribution, Personal Contribution I and Personal Contribution II.
For more information on contributions, visit: https://bit.ly/3rfT2Zd
The monthly contribution to GHS is currently at 2.9% of the gross salary paid by the employer, and another 2.65% paid by the employee. More information on healthcare services, providers and beneficiaries can be found on GHS’ website: https://bit.ly/3kMSQ1g.
The GHS is intended to have universal accessibility that includes not only Cypriot and EU nationals, but also TCNs. The primary criterion for eligibility is to legally reside in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus. In addition, you can be a GHS beneficiary if a) you are employed in Cyprus, b) you have acquired permanent residence status, c) you have been granted refugee or supplementary protection status, or d) you are a member of the family of a beneficiary or e) you are insured in another EU member state.
For every worker in Cyprus, the GHS contribution is mandatory, however, individuals can choose to maintain their subscription to private healthcare insurance, despite their eligibility in the GHS.
To gain access to the healthcare services of GHS, registration is needed in:
The GHS Beneficiary Record: You can enroll in the GHS Beneficiary Record online or by visiting a personal doctor (PD). For non-Cypriots to enroll in the GHS Beneficiary Record, they must be registered in the Civil Registry, or the Registry of the Migration Department and, as the case may be, in the Social Insurance Services Registry. In addition, and in order to confirm that the criteria of the GHS Law of 2017 are complied with, the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) may request additional certificates and/or evidence.
A Personal Doctor (PD) List: Beneficiaries are able to search for PDs who are contracted with the HIO, either on the HIO website or the Beneficiary Portal or on printed directories that are made available by the HIO in various places that are announced to the beneficiaries.
For more information about the registration of non-Cypriot nationals visit and click on “GHS enrollment. A step by step guide for non-Cypriot nationals”: https://bit.ly/388Jk37.
Women have direct access to a gynaecologist/obstetrician once they turn 15 at no charge.
Most forms of healthcare services are covered by the GHS.
GHS provides a range of services, however, these have yet to be finalised, as more specialties are continuously added in the system.
Currently, GHS provides:
- Referral by PD to an outpatient specialist
- Referral by PD to an outpatient specialist for diagnostic tests (diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, cytology, histopathology)
- Referral by PD to an outpatient specialist in cytology and pathological anatomy by sending specimens for diagnostic tests
- Referral by PD to nurse, clinical dietitian, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, physiotherapist and clinical psychologist
- Referral by PD to the Accident & Emergency Department
- Referral by PD to a medical rehabilitation centre
- Referral by PD to a palliative healthcare centre
- Referral by PD to a laboratory
- Prescription of pharmaceutical products
- Dental services (no need for PD referral) - only covers annual dental cleaning
- Gynaecologist/obstetrician (no need for PD referral)
- Ambulance service
- Home care
- Inpatient healthcare services
For more information on the types of specialists available and their respective district, visit: https://www.gesy.org.cy/provider-search.
Non-EU nationals who wish to reside in Cyprus, are required to have a private health insurance plan, as it is a prerequisite for their registration at the Civil Registry and Migration Department.
Specifically, non-EU citizens who wish to reside in Cyprus as housekeepers, gardeners, farmers or any agricultural-related work, drivers, workers, and any other occupation, as well as university and college students and non-EU citizens intending to reside in Cyprus must have a private health insurance plan.
Long-term residence permits, temporary work, and student residency permits are tightly linked to the subscription to a private health insurance plan in deciding the granting and renewal of visas. The most basic features of private health insurance packages for non-EU national workers/students can be found below: https://mihub.eu/en/info/info-by-topic/health
The Social Insurance Scheme covers compulsorily every person gainfully occupied in Cyprus either as an employed person or as a self-employed person. Thus, anyone legally employed in Cyprus is eligible for social insurance, and thus, the benefits provided.
The scheme provides cash benefits for parental leave, sickness, unemployment, invalidity, orphanhood, old age, death, and employment injury. The scheme also provides free medical treatment for persons receiving invalidity pension and for employed persons who sustain injuries as a result or an employment accident or an occupational disease.
To apply for a sickness benefit applicants must submit this form within 20 days from the date which the benefit is claimed, alongside the required documents: https://bit.ly/3bfg2lp.
Women employees in Cyprus are entitled to receive a motherhood benefit, for which they can either apply after the seventh month of their pregnancy or no later than 20 days from the date which the benefit is claimed. The application can be found here: https://bit.ly/3bfg2lp. The motherhood benefit covers on average 18 weeks of partial pay.
For men workers in Cyprus who wish to apply for paternity leave, they must submit this application: https://bit.ly/3e5bIXS. The application is only available in Greek. Non-Greek speaking individuals, should physically visit their district’s social insurance office or send an email to the following addresses: https://bit.ly/3bd9MdS.
Once someone becomes unemployed, they first need to register to their District Labour Office for the purpose of seeking employment. Afterwards, unemployed individuals can apply for unemployment benefits. To be entitled for the unemployment benefit, individuals must meet relevant contribution conditions. The benefit accounts for the salary of 156 working days. Applicants should submit this form: https://bit.ly/309yKo7. The form is only available in Greek.
For non-Greek speaking individuals, they should physically visit their district’s social insurance office or send an email to one of the following addresses, based on the issue they experience: https://bit.ly/3bd9MdS.
Cypriot and EU nationals who can’t make ends meet can apply for financial assistance, namely, the Minimum Guaranteed Income (MGI), by filling out this form: https://bit.ly/389iyYE.
Non-EU nationals can apply for financial assistance by filling out this form: https://bit.ly/3bh9fri.
The forms are only available in Greek. Non-Greek speaking applicants should visit or email their district’s Social Insurance or Social Welfare offices and explicitly request information about the MGI. Το receive this benefit, relevant conditions must be met in terms of property, savings, personal and family income. The terms are only available in Greek: https://bit.ly/3sS0udd.
Yes, see section above.
- Minimum wage in Cyprus
- The tax system
- What other contributions must be paid?
- What are the payroll expenses/taxes?
There is no national-wide or inter-professional minimum wage benchmark in Cyprus. However, there are provisions for minimum wages (governed by the Minimum Wages Act of 1941) for specific occupations for which unionisation and collective bargaining coverage is low. These minimum wages apply for the following nine occupations:
- sales staff;
- clerical workers;
- auxiliary healthcare staff (personal care staff);
- auxiliary staff (childcare staff) in nursery schools, in crèches and in schools;
- security guards;
- caretakers and cleaners.
Moreover, the Minimum Wages Order (180/2012) applicable from April 1, 2012, fixes the monthly minimum wage for seven of the above nine occupations while it provides for a minimum hourly rate of pay for security guards and cleaners of business premises. The minimum salary is filed on April 1 each year by the Order of the Council of Ministers.
The initial (on recruitment) monthly minimum wage is €870 and is raised to €924 after completion of six months of employment with the same employer. In addition, some of the minimum wages are set through an hourly-pay benchmark. For instance, the hourly minimum wage for cleaners (initial, on recruitment) is EUR 4.55 and is raised to EUR 4.84 after completion of six months of employment with the same employer. The application of the minimum wage standard is checked by the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance’s Department of Labour Relations.
Individuals and organisations residing in Cyprus are liable to income tax in accordance with the Income Tax Law in respect of their income.
Currently, the standard non-taxable yearly income stands at EUR 19, 500 gross. Above this amount, the tax is applied as follows:
- EUR 19,501 – 28,000: 20%
- EUR 28,001 – 36,300: 25%
- EUR 36,301 – 60,000: 30%
- Over EUR 60,000: 35%
In addition to income taxation, wages are affected by payroll expenses such as Social Insurance and other contributions. The main contributions are:
Social Insurance: The rate of contribution for the employed persons as of April 1, 2019, is at 17,9%, with the employee contributing 8.3% of their gross salary income, and the employer’s contribution equaling that percentage (i.e. 8.3%). For self-employed persons the rate is 16.9% of their insurable earnings.
General Health System (GHS): The monthly contribution to GHS is currently at 2.9% of the gross salary paid by the employer, and another 2.65% paid by the employee. For self-employed individuals, the contribution is at 4%.
Below are two categories of additional contributions, separated by those who are mandatory by the employer only and those who are optional for both employers and employees:
1) Other Mandatory Contributions by Employer Only
Social Cohesion Fund: The Social Cohesion Fund contributions go to the European Union (EU), and the money is invested in addressing social disparities and promoting sustainable development in EU states. Not all EU states pay for this fund. Τhe employer pays 2% of the gross monthly income of their employees to the fund.
Redundancy Fund: Redundancy fund is a contribution made only by the employer and covers the compensation of the employee in the event they are terminated by their employer. The employer pays 1.2% to this fund.
Industrial Training Fund: Only the employer contributes to this fund. Τhis money is used by an independent authority in Cyprus to promote training programmes across sectors. The employer pays 0.5% to this fund.
2) Optional Contributions by Both Employee and Employer
Provident Fund: It’s a fund where employees and employers contribute to save money. Employees take the money once they retire or change jobs in one installment. This one installment is in addition to the monthly pension they will be receiving when they retire.
Private Medical Insurance: Paid by employee and employer. Private medical insurance is mandatory for the employment of non-EU individuals.
- An introduction on trade unions
- The role of the unions in the labour market
- Services to union members
- Collective bargaining and collective agreements
- Trade unions in Cyprus
- Workplace representation
- Other important organisations that non-EU workers can reach out to for help or information
Trade Unions in Cyprus are guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution: “Every person has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Industrial relations in Cyprus are characterised by a relatively high level of trade union membership, with approximately 170,000 of workers in the island being trade unionists. The two major trade union confederations in the island are PEO and SEK which are organised generally across industry lines (including, for example, federations of construction workers, hotel workers and government employees).
Trade unions’ main role focuses on:
- Decision making around labour rights of workers
- Negotiations with employers
- Collective bargaining
- Support, legal advice and awareness
A worker can become a member of a trade union after the age of 16. The contract between workers and their trade union representatives is protected by law.
The main services that trade unions provide include:
- Health insurance plans
- Negotiations with employer
- Advises employer on work-related matters
- Resolution of labour disputes
- Research on labour issues
Employers are also obliged by law to offer trade union representatives access to their facilities of work or businesses for the following purposes:
1) for their participation in workers’ negotiations with employers for the establishment or renewal of collective bargains.
2) for conducting consultations or joint consultations with the employer on issues of a working nature.
3) for the examination of issues related to the proper implementation of labour legislation.
4) for the examination of issues related to the resolution of labour disputes regarding the implementation of collective bargains or agreements.
In Cyprus, collective bargaining takes place at both industry and company level. Industry level bargaining in private businesses covers work sectors such as hotels, metal-working industries, oil, and construction. In industry-level negotiations, the negotiating parties are the appropriate industrial federations and the related employers’ association for that sector. Company level bargaining, on the other hand, covers negotiations between individual employers, and workers. The negotiating parties, in this case, are the employer and the local trade union (usually through a full-time union official). At both levels, agreements normally last two years.
Agreements cover topics like pay, working time, holidays, travelling and other allowances. Finally, even though there is no national benchmark for minimum wage in Cyprus, there is the minimum wage for some specific groups of vulnerable workers (e.g. shop assistants, childcare workers and personal care workers).
For more information on collective agreements, visit: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dlr/dlr.nsf/page11_gr/page11_gr?OpenDocument.
PEO and SEK are the largest trade unions in the country. PEO has a stronger base among manual workers. Other, smaller confederations are DEOK and POAS. In addition to these confederations, there are certain significant trade unions which are sector-specific – the most well-known ones being PASYDY (which organises public servants), ETYK (bank sector), and OELMEK and POED (which cover teaching staff).
Workplace representation in Cyprus occurs through trade unions. While not closely regulated by legislation, workplace representation follows the Industrial Relations Code.
Since 2005, following the introduction of an EU directive on information and consultation, additional legislation was instituted at the national level to ensure the implementation of the directive that for companies of 30 or more employees there should be workplace representation. Finally, a workplace committee typically represents employees on issues like health and safety, work organisation, discipline and the effective implementation of collective agreements.
Trade unions can assist third-country nationals (TCNs) in terms of their labour rights in the following ways:
- Provide legal information and support
- Advocate against TCNs’ exploitation/discrimination
- Defend their established labour rights
- Refer TCNs to relevant authorities (labour office, migration department)
- Promote inclusion policies and institutional reforms at the workplace
In Cyprus, there is no specific trade union that is engaged exclusively with TCN workers’ rights, however, PEO is a trade union that is more likely to operate as an advocate for their rights in some circumstances. The reluctance of trade unions to organise and collectively promote TCN workers’ rights in Cyprus is due to the fact that they try to avoid creating unfavourable terms for the local workforce.
Other limitations that trade unions face in incorporating TCN workers range from language and cultural barriers, lack of resources and employer hostility to difficulty to approach and organise, such in the case of domestic and seasonal workers. It is important to note, that during the research for this output, it was identified that domestic workers, and specifically housemaids, were not allowed to join or form a union as of May 2019. This issue has been described by experts as unconstitutional which was further reinforced by the fact that their employment is covered by the Aliens and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior, and not the Ministry of Labour, as is the case with other TCN workers. A relevant report on the topic can be found here: https://bit.ly/3kKZcOp.
TCN workers in Cyprus can seek assistance about labour market specifics from the following organisations, if they find it difficult to approach trade unions.
- Department of Labour Relations – A mediator of labour disputes
- Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC) – Help Refugees Work
- KISA – overall support
- Caritas Cyprus (CCy) – overall support
- UNHCR – Aid & Protection for Refugees
- PEO – Trade Union
- Safety at work
- Organisations to seek help from
- Working hours, rest, annual leave and sick pay
- Employees’ Professional Development
- Security Standards at Work
The Department of Labour Inspection is responsible to oversee that health and safety regulations are followed at the workplace. The inspectors are public officials who are appointed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. The department has offices in all districts.
According to the safety and health at work, in every workplace where an employer employs more than two persons, a safety representative shall be elected by those persons. This representative represents their fellow employees on issues regarding protection from hazards at work. An employer who employs more than 200 persons is obliged to appoint a safety officer who will deal exclusively (full-time employment) with health and safety at work issues.
Employees can find out more information by visiting the following departments operating under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare:
Department of Labour: https://cutt.ly/8z3KM5J
Department of Labour Relations: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dlr/dlr.nsf/index_en/index_en?OpenDocument
To file an anonymous complaint:
To file a formal complaint:
Law on Equal Treatment at Work:
Working Hours: The number of working hours must not exceed 48 per week, including overtime, over a reference period of four months. However, in certain sectors (e.g., the hotel industry) different limitations may apply. Night workers should not, on average, exceed eight working hours per day within a period of one month or any other period specified in a contract. Night workers whose work is hazardous or physically or mentally demanding should not exceed eight hours of night work.
In addition, there are exceptions to the above restrictions of working hours limits: (1) cases of actual or imminent accident, force majeure, urgent work in mechanical and other facilities etc.; (2) cases of necessary labour to prevent damage to goods or any other risk to the technical results of the employer; (3) special employment cases which include receipt of goods, balance sheet preparation, the settlement of accounts, clearing and balance sheet closure; (4) cases of abnormal pressure in work due to special circumstances.
In addition, employees are entitled to a minimum of a) eleven continuous hours of rest per day; b) 24 continuous hours of rest per week; and c) either two rest periods of 24 continuous hours each or a minimum of 48 continuous hours within every 14-day period.
Annual Paid Leave: The minimum annual leave is 20 days for those working a five-day week and 24 days for those working a six-day week. A precondition for annual leave is that the employee works for 48 weeks within the year. If the employee did not, the annual leave decreases depending on the weeks they worked. During the period of the annual leave, the employee is paid by the Central Leave Fund. The employer’s contribution to the Central Leave Fund is 8% on the total earnings of the employee. The employer can exercise discretion on whether the employee will go on leave but in no case can the employer reduce the period of leave.
The following are not considered as annual leave: public holidays, maternity or parental leave, absence due to accident or illness, absence from work due to a strike or lockout, time given as notice period for termination of employment, leave on grounds of force majeure. It is important to mention that, by agreement between the employer and employee, the annual leave can be accumulated for a period of 2 years.
Sick Leave: Sick leave and its payment thereof, are not subject to rules, except in certain specific areas where there are relevant regulations in place or where this is provided in the contract of employment. The social insurance legislation provides for sick pay from the fourth day of the incapacity of an employee, while in the case of self-employed persons, the sick pay is allowed from the ninth day of incapacity.
The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA) is a body governed by public law that aims to create the conditions for planned and systematic training and development of employees. HRDA funds several trainings/programmes that develop the qualifications and skills of employed and unemployed individuals. Employers in the private sector contribute 0,5% of their employees’ salary every month to the Industrial Training Fund.
The Cyprus Productivity Centre (CPC) also provides research, programs and trainings with the aim ‘to assist private and public organisations to utilise their human and capital resources in the best possible way.’
Below are the main responsibilities and duties of employers for ensuring safety, health and welfare at the workplace:
- The provision and maintenance of a working environment, methods and systems that are safe and without risks to health. This includes arrangements for ensuring safety and absence of risks in relation to the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
- The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure health and safety.
- The implementation overseeing and adaptation of necessary safety measures, which should be in accordance with changing circumstances in the pursuit of the improvement of existing situations.
- The provision to safety representatives’ sufficient exemption from their workplace (without loss of remuneration) to enable them to fulfil their duties and obligations.
- The employer should observe the general principles of risk prevention as set by law.
- Every employer shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the work equipment, machines, machinery, devices and tools made available to persons at work are suitable for the work to be carried out or properly adapted for that purpose as to ensure the safety and health of persons at work, during their use.
- No employer should levy or permit to be levied on any employee in respect of anything done or provided to comply with safety at workplace legislation.
- Employers’ duty of ensuring health at work includes the duty to protect the reproductive function of the employees and the duty to protect female employees during their pregnancy from risks to the fetus and, for a sufficient time after childbirth, from risks to them or to the newborn child during breastfeeding.
- When an employer entrusts tasks to an employee should take into consideration the employee’s capabilities, in regard to safety and health.
- The introduction of new technologies is subject to consultation with the employees and/or their safety representatives, as regards the consequences to the safety and health of the employees that are related to the choice of equipment.
For their part, employees are responsible for the following:
- Employees shall take reasonable care to ensure the safety and health of themselves and of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work.
- Employees should cooperate with their employers to the execution of any requirement or duty imposed by the law on safety at work.
- Employees should use the protective equipment or clothing provided by the employer in accordance with the provision of the law.
- Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation
- Caritas Cyprus
Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation
- Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation is a non-profitable non-governmental organisation, and was introduced in 2003 in order to promote the social policy of Nicosia Municipality.
- In 2015, after a new decision, the Nicosia Municipality assigned the planning and implementation of its social policy to the foundation.
Foundation’s Aims - Objectives:
- Support vulnerable population such as immigrants, children, elderly people, women etc
- Provide equal opportunities and holistic social services
- Promote employment
- Provide counseling services, psychological support and guidance to individuals and families
- Create networks between public and private services, local committees, voluntary and charitable organisations and persons with similar aims
Caritas Cyprus is a member of the Caritas Internationalis Confederation whose 165 members serve the world's poor, dispossessed and marginalised. It works to end poverty, promotes justice and restores dignity - providing compassionate care and support to vulnerable groups. Caritas Cyprus’ beneficiary base of over 8,000 individuals, includes increasing numbers of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Caritas Cyprus’ Migrant Centres provide a place for migrants to acclimatise; to access administrative, legal, healthcare, labour and psycho-social support; to network; to learn languages (English and Greek) and, when necessary, to access food, clothing and other humanitarian services.