Parliament recently introduced new legislation that aims to promote and support breastfeeding in the workplace and enhance the legal protection for working pregnant women and new mothers. One law established the minister of health as the competent authority for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding, while another extended the period during which pregnant women are protected against dismissal and established the right for working mothers to breastfeed or pump and store milk in the workplace.
The Social Insurance (Amendment) Law was revised in June 2017 to introduce definitions of 'undeclared work' and 'undeclared earnings'. 'Undeclared work' is defined as the insurable employment of an employee or a self-employed person which has not been declared to the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurances, while 'undeclared earnings' are defined as the insurable earnings for which an employer has not submitted a statement of earnings and contributions within the required deadline.
A number of new employment-related laws have been adopted in 2017, including the long-awaited Protection of Paternity Law and the Protection of Maternity (Amendment) Law, which introduced the concept of surrogacy. Amendments to existing laws regarding redundancy and smoking in the workplace have also been made.
Parliament recently voted to introduce the Protection of Paternity Law. The law came into force on August 1 2017 and gives fathers in Cyprus the right to two consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave. The law has introduced statutory family-friendly rights to Cyprus for the first time, giving employers the opportunity to incentivise and support parents in their workforce.
The Court of Appeal recently overturned a decision of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, stating that an employee's termination was not unlawful, but rather due to redundancy in accordance with the Termination of Employment Law. The employee had been served with a notice of termination which stated that her position would be abolished due to changes in the methods of production and modernisation of the organisation.
In a recent Industrial Disputes Court case, four individuals sought the full payment of a provident fund which had been affected by the 2013 bank bailout. In making its decision, the court examined when the applicants' right to receive the provident fund had arisen and whether said amount had been affected by the 2013 bank bailout. It also considered whether the applicants had accepted the consequences of the 2013 bank bailout in writing.
The Court of Industrial Disputes recently examined a case in which two public sector workers claimed reinstatement and compensation for unlawful dismissal following the termination of their fixed-term employment contracts. The applicants argued that due to their length of service, their employment status should have been recognised as permanent under the Fixed-Term Employees (Prohibition on Discrimination) Law (98(I)/2003).
The new EU Pensions Directive (IORP II) recently came into force. The introduction of a number of important features and the widening of the scope of prudential supervision by competent authorities under IORP II is likely to be a challenge for the Cyprus regulator, which will need to recruit additional personnel and make changes to its existing structure in order to perform its supervisory review powers, duties and responsibilities effectively and fulfil the reformed regulatory framework's aims.
In a recent case before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, the dismissal of a pregnant employee following the takeover of her employer's business was deemed to be discriminatory and thus unlawful. The court's judgment is a welcome precedent for pregnant women, who often become victims of discrimination in the workplace. It also raises awareness of Cyprus's anti-discrimination laws, demonstrating that more needs to be done to enforce them in practice.
Τhe Termination of Employment Law was recently amended to increase the maximum period of protection for employees who are absent from work owing to temporary incapacity from six months to 12 months plus one quarter of the period of incapacity. The new provision does not apply to employees who are liable to dismissal without notice due to misconduct.
The Industrial Relations Tribunal recently considered substantive and procedural issues in the context of a claim for sexual harassment and victimisation. The court focused on whether the actions concerned fell within the definition of 'sexual harassment' and the damages to which the applicant was entitled. The case illustrates the principles that tribunals apply when examining sexual harassment cases and how they are interpreted by employment courts.
In a recent Employment Court case the applicant argued that he was eligible for a contract of indefinite duration. The court held that the applicant had worked for the respondents at the same location and with the same duties on a temporary basis under successive fixed-term employment contracts for over 30 months and was therefore eligible to be regarded as a permanent employee.
In a Court of Industrial Disputes decision, ignorance of an employer's non-approval of an annual leave request was found to constitute infringement of the basic terms of the employment contract. The court confirmed that abusive behaviour on the part of an employee can amount to a breach of the mutual trust and confidence necessary to maintain the employment relationship and justify the termination of employment without notice.
The Labour Court recently examined the employment status of an employee after successive fixed-term contracts and whether he was considered a permanent employee or there were objective reasons to justify his temporary employment. It found that the respondents had failed to present objective circumstances to justify the applicant's fixed-term employment; he was therefore covered by a permanent contract.
The behaviour of an employee during the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint that she had made against her manager was crucial in the dismissal of her application for damages for unlawful termination and discrimination. The court found that the applicant's refusal to provide supporting evidence to her claim amounted to abusive behaviour resulting in breach of the duty of mutual trust.
Salaries in Cyprus are negotiated by employers and employees or their representatives through individual or collective agreements. Compensation and benefits for employees include a minimum wage for certain occupations set annually by the Ministerial Council, a cost-of-living allowance adjusted every six months in accordance with inflation and discretionary bonuses.
An employer intending to take collective redundancy action must notify and engage in consultations with employee representatives as soon as possible in order to reach a settlement agreement. The employer must also give notice to the minister of labour and social insurance of any proposed redundancies at least one month before the intended date of termination.
The Constitution contains a general anti-discrimination provision, but age, disability and sexual orientation are not covered therein. The law provides that differential treatment on grounds of age does not constitute discrimination if it is objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate objective – in particular, with regard to policy in the fields of employment, the labour market and vocational training.
It is advisable that employers include training about sexual harassment in a policy declaration, even though this is not required by law. Training which focuses on how to prevent and deal with incidents of sexual harassment, as well as on the liability of perpetrators in such incidents, should be offered to employees.
The Nicosia Employment Court recently examined a pilot's claim in relation to the reduction of his salary and benefits by his employer. The court decided that this reduction was unlawful, as it was unilaterally implemented. The airline has now closed due to financial difficulties.