In late 2018 the House of Representatives introduced amendments which granted paternity leave and benefits to unmarried working fathers. However, the government referred the amending laws to the Supreme Court, claiming that they would add unbudgeted costs to its budget and therefore violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court recently accepted the government's position and declared the amendments unconstitutional.
Four employment laws concerning seagoing vessels and their crew were recently amended. Among other things, the amendments relate to transfers of seagoing vessels and their crew under a transfer of undertakings, the definition of a 'competent authority' for notifying collective redundancies and the role and protection of merchant vessel crew members who act as employee representatives.
Cyprus case law has long established that reverse onus in criminal cases does not transfer the burden of proof to defendants; rather, it allows them to create reasonable doubt with respect to their guilt. A recent Supreme Court decision has confirmed this in regard to wage protection and clarified that all criminal courts (ie, not just employment tribunals) must examine the facts that establish employment relationships and interpret employment contracts where said facts are disputed.
The Protection of Paternity Law provides paternity leave only to men who are married to their child's mother before the child's birth or adoption. The House of Representatives recently tried to address this oversight by introducing an amending law, under which all fathers would be entitled to paid paternity leave regardless of their marital status. However, these changes have yet to come into force because the president referred the amending laws to the Supreme Court, claiming that they are unconstitutional.
The Industrial Disputes Tribunal recently issued a decision regarding a person working for the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) under a series of fixed-term contracts, some of which were referred to as contracts of employment and others as contracts for services. The tribunal ruled that, even when working under an alleged contract for services, the applicant was a CTO employee working under a genuine contract of employment.
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.
Employment legislation has helped to promote diversity in the workplace in Cyprus. Employees and prospective employees are now more aware of their rights regarding discrimination in the workplace, as more information regarding equality is available and employees are better equipped to demand their rights through the appropriate bodies.
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.