The island of Cyprus is located in the Mediterranean Sea, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of the coast of Turkey and 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Syria. The majority of the population of the southern two-thirds of the island is Greek. Turks make up most of the population of the northern third, which calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Although a United Nations buffer zone separates the Greek and Turkish areas, Turkey is the only country to recognize the Turkish Republic as a separate country, and there are ongoing efforts to bring both Greek and Turkish Cyprus together under a single, universally recognized government. The entire island became a member of the EU in 2004, and the euro has been the official currency since 2008, although the Turkish lira is used in the north. Cyprus’ beaches and warm weather attract millions of visitors each year, making tourism one of the pillars of its economy. It is also an international finance center. Many corporate entities are domiciled on the island, as well, with a number establishing corporate headquarters there. The energy sector is likely to play an important role in Cyprus’ future, thanks to the discovery of large offshore natural gas reserves in 2013.
Employment contracts in Cyprus are normally either indefinite or for a fixed-term. A fixed-term contract may not have a term longer than 30 months, and a series of fixed-term contracts may not have a combined term of more than 30 months. If the employee remains employed with the employer beyond the 30-month limit, the contract automatically converts to an indefinite contract. An employment contract does not have to be in writing, but it is advisable to have a written contract, nonetheless. The employer must disclose some information to the employee in writing within 30 days of the start of employment if it is not stated in a written contract. In addition to the contract term, there is a statutory probation period of six months. This period may be extended to be as long as two years if the employer and employee agree in writing when employment begins.
The standard workweek is 40 hours over five days, although a six-day week is possible. Many businesses open at 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. and are open until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. during the summer, with a break in the middle of the day. Employees may not work more than 48 hours in one week, averaged over four months, and the employee’s consent is required for work beyond 40 hours. Work at night (from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.) may not exceed an average of eight hours out of 24 over a period of one month. Employers who will employ night workers regularly must inform the Ministry of Welfare, Labor and Social Insurance in writing and must provide medical examinations for the night workers at the employer’s expense before they begin night work to ensure their fitness. The employer must also ensure that the night workers are examined periodically while they continue to work at night. Collective bargaining agreements cover many workers in Cyprus (likely half of them or more, although there is no official figure), and these agreements may specify particular working hours. The rates of pay for overtime and other non-standard working arrangements are also normally set by a collective bargaining agreement, or if no collective bargaining agreement applies, the employer and employee usually negotiate the rate. In some industries, statutes apply.
The amount of an employee’s sick leave and sick pay are usually set by collective bargaining agreement or by individual contract. If the employee does not receive sick pay under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or their individual contract, they may qualify for a social security benefit in the event of an illness lasting three days or more, up to a maximum of 156 days. Employees are also allowed one week of unpaid leave per year to care for a family member who is ill or injured and urgently requires the employee’s presence.
An expectant mother is entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave after providing her employer with a medical certification of her pregnancy. She must take a minimum of 11 weeks, starting at the latest two weeks before the expected week of the birth, and eight weeks after the birth. If she gives birth to more than one child, she is entitled to four additional weeks of maternity leave for each additional child. If the baby requires hospitalization, maternity leave is extended for one more week for each 21 days the baby is in the hospital, up to six weeks of additional leave. Fathers receive two weeks of paternity leave, which can be taken anytime during the 16 weeks following the child’s birth. The father must provide two weeks of advance notice in writing. Employers have no obligation to pay employees during maternity or paternity leave, but both parents can receive a social security benefit, during their leave if they meet the eligibility requirements. The benefit is generally 72% of earnings. Mothers who meet the eligibility requirements are also entitled to a lump sum childbirth grant, which was €546.36 as of 2019. After six months working for an employer, employees are eligible for an unpaid parental leave of up to 18 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child. The maximum unpaid parental leave is one to five weeks per calendar year for one or two children, and seven weeks for three children. The employer may agree to allow additional parental leave. A female employee who adopts a child under 12 is entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave. She must inform the Ministry of Social Welfare Services of the adoption and provide her employer with a minimum of six weeks of written notice of her intent to adopt and the date she would begin to care for the adopted child.
Cyprus has no general minimum wage, but certain professions do have one. Bonuses are paid at the employer’s discretion. Many employers pay a 13th month of salary as a bonus, usually in December. Employers are also required to give employees holiday pay, which is paid either to the employees directly or from a Central Holiday Fund to which employers contribute.
Employees receive four weeks of paid annual leave, 20 days per year for employees who work five days per week, or 24 days for those who work six days per week. A collective bargaining agreement or employment contract may provide for more leave time. Employees become eligible for leave after 48 weeks of employment. Employees must request leave, and the employer may deny the request because of the needs of the business. Some employers allow employees who are students or studying for professional certifications to take time off for these purposes.
Cyprus has universal health care, and people who are not covered by the government system may use the public medical facilities and pay out of their own funds.
Employers may terminate employees with notice for a legitimate reason. The main legally recognized reasons for termination with notice are unsatisfactory performance, redundancy, the expiration of a fixed-term contract or for reasons outside of the employer’s control. The notice must be in writing, with the notice period depending on the employee’s length of service. The employer also has the option of making the termination effective immediately and paying the employee the amount of salary they would be paid during the notice period (e.g. four weeks of salary for an employee who has been employed for three-and-a-half years).The employer may dismiss an employee with no notice in situations where the employee has repeatedly violated or ignored the employer’s rules, has committed a crime or a serious breach of discipline or has performed another act in which the employer cannot reasonably be expected to continue the employment relationship. The employer must dismiss the employee within a reasonable time of becoming aware of the employee’s conduct. During the six-month probation period at the beginning of employment, the employer may terminate the employee at any time without cause. An employee who wishes to quit must provide advance notice to the employer, with the notice period depending on the amount of time the employee has worked for the employer. Terminated employees must be paid severance pay as soon as possible after termination. Severance pay is based on length of service.
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