Work-life balance

Greece-flag-140In today’s demanding economy, it is a huge challenge for workers, especially working couples, to find a balance between work and life. According to OECD findings, Greek people have one of the highest work rates among the OECD countries with individuals working 2,109 hours a year, which is much higher than the OECD average of 1,749 hours. The Regus Survey (2010-2012) on Work-Life Balance shows that, in “comparison with 2010, Greek workers’ life has significantly deteriorated. 74% of the employees are forced to work more hours than in 2010, while workers living in other countries work on average 59% more than the previous year due to the crisis”. It appears that the unemployment and economic instability has affected negatively the psychology of Greeks, and their personal lives. Greek people have to try really hard to reconcile work with their personal life; therefore, facing problems with their personal and work-life balance.

According to the European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO), Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are countries that lack flexibility regarding working time for parents employed full time. This is more evident in Greece, since most women have responsibility for taking care of their house and family along with their work.  Women in Greece feel that they don’t have enough time for hobbies and interests.

National holidays

Greece celebrates both national and traditional holidays:

  •        1st  January – New Year’s Day
  •        6th January  – Epiphany
  •        Kathara Deytera – First day of Lent, moveable depending on when Orthodox Easter is celebrated
  •        25th March – Annunciation and Independence Day, the anniversary of the declaration of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, in 1821.
  •        Good Friday – moveable depending on when Orthodox Easter is celebrated.
  •        Easter – moveable
  •        Easter Monday – moveable depending when Easter is celebrated.
  •        May 1st – Labour day
  •        15th August – Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
  •        28th October –  OCHI day, celebration of the Greek refusal to the Italian ultimatum of 1940.
  •        25th December – Christmas
  •        26th December – day after Christmas

There are some holidays that are celebrated only by Schools and Universities:

  •       30th January – Commemoration of the patron saints of education.
  •       17th November – Anniversary of the 1973 students’ protests against the junta of the colonels (1967–1974).

Many municipalities have a Saint which they celebrate on a specific day with a holiday for the city when all schools, offices, banks, and stores are closed.

For Example:  26th October – St. Demetrius Day is celebrated in the city of Thessaloniki.

Working hours

The length of a typical working week in Greece is 8 hours a day, 5 days a week starting at between 8am and 9am. Greeks do spent more time working as, according to Eurostat, employees in Greece work on average 42 hours per week compared to a European average of 40.3 hours per week.

Part-time work is increasing, due to the current economic situation in Greece and increasing numbers of companies are reducing working hours for their employees.

Banks are open from Monday to Thursday from 8am to 2.30pm and on Friday from 8am to 2pm. Shops open from 9am and close between 2.30pm to 3pm on Monday through Saturday; they also open in the evenings from 5pm to 9pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Recently, a law has been passed to allow shops to also open on Sundays, but only shops in tourist areas have begun to take advantage of this legislation.

Large department stores and the shops in Malls have much longer opening hours, 10am to 9pm on weekdays and 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. 

Health insurance

Reform in Greece’s healthcare system has been a major priority for the government. Although it is not considered satisfactory by the Greek people, the World Health Organization ranks Greece as having one of the best health care systems in the world. The Greek healthcare cost is the lowest among the EU countries, while the government’s GDP allocation on health is also low. The system is both publically and privately funded, comprised of the National Health System (EOPPY-IKA) and various other social insurance funds.

Public hospitals tend to cluster in big cities and they are limited to certain areas. These are probably some of the reasons why Greeks have the perception that they have a low quality healthcare provision, despite the fact that hospitals in the metropolitan areas are of excellent standards. Greeks have access to medical care by paying a monthly insurance contribution, which is mandatory.

If your stay in Greece is for a temporary stay or short term visit, access to the healthcare system will be covered through the European Health Insurance Card and/or private medical insurance that you will have taken out. However, for longer stays and living in Greece, you may need to apply for an E106 or E121 in your home country.

If you travel to Greece it is recommended you should have full travel insurance or private health coverage, especially if you intend to stay any length of time.
If you are working in Greece and pay regular contributions to social security, you will be entitled to full or subsidised healthcare benefits. In this case, private health insurance may cover the portion of the bill that is not covered by the government.

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