Cyprus Employment - As a result of the satisfactory performance of the Cyprus economy throughout the eighties and nineties, the labor market in Cyprus has exhibited conditions of full employment, with unemployment at around 3,5% of the economically active population, but with a moderate upward trend during the last few years. The structure of employment by sector has gone through major changes in the last two decades, with a large increase of employment in the tertiary sector and a decrease in the primary and secondary sectors.

In general the labor market in Cyprus can be considered to be relatively flexible and well functioning. In 2003, employment increased further and the employment rate (for persons 15-64 years of age) reached 69,2%. Employment in the tertiary sector reached the level of 71,4% while the share of part-time employment reached almost 9%. About 37% of the labor force had finished upper secondary education and 32,5% tertiary education. With Cyprus joining the European Union, employment policies and programmes are being adapted to the European Employment Strategy and guidelines, while Cyprus has been developing a National Action Plan for employment and has been preparing for participation in a number of European Social Fund projects.

Since 1992, Cyprus has resorted to temporary employment of foreign workers in order to satisfy shortages in certain sectors of the economy, a large number of these workers being seasonally employed in agriculture and the tourist industry. The annual rate of increase of foreign workers has been relatively high during the last few years, and their percentage on the labor force has exceeded 10%. The Department of Labor of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance is responsible for the effective and smooth functioning of the labor market.

To this end, the Department:

  • Assists and participates in the development and evaluation of employment policy
  • Assists and advises on the identification and assessment of labor market problems
  • Co-operates and collaborates with other public and private bodies with a view to achieving optimal distribution, effective use and mobilization of human resources
  • Assists job-seekers to find suitable employment and helps employers to find suitable workers, through registration and placement services at district level
  • Facilitates occupational and geographical mobility of labor, through the provision of information to job-seekers and employers
  • Provides vocational guidance and counseling on employment and training opportunities.

Initiates and operates programmes and schemes for workers facing special problems In addition to the above, the Department of Labor is responsible, among other things, for the following fields of legislation and policy:

  • Maternity protection and protection of young persons at work
  • Equal treatment of men and women in employment
  • Private employment agencies
  • Port workers employment and working conditions
  • Equal treatment and protection of foreign worker.
  • Posting of workers from abroad.

Lastly, in the field of labor and employment, the Department is responsible, for:

  • The provision of information, as the Cyprus contact point, on the recognition of professional qualifications, within the policy of facilitating the free movement of workers in Europe.
  • Various other social and labor policies in Cyprus, including participation in the EURES (European Employment Services) and the European Guidance System for Education and Training.

Care and Rehabilitation of the Disabled - The Service for the Care and Rehabilitation of the Disabled, which operates within the Department of Labor, coordinates all relevant activities in the public sector. Its main objective is to deal with issues concerning disabled persons and disabilities, and to promote the equalization of rights and opportunities, in order to help such persons achieve full participation in the economic and social life of the country.

Through this Service, the Department of Labor implements programmes for vocational assessment and guidance, vocational training and retraining, placement in employment in the open market, sheltered employment, and self-employment of disabled persons. It also provides allowances to cover the special needs of severely disabled persons, financial assistance for the acquisition of technical aids, equipment and wheelchairs, subsidies for summer vacations, and financial assistance to organizations of the disabled.

According to the Labor Force Survey, in 2002 there were 53.369 people “with long-term health problems or impairment“ between the ages of 16 to 64 in Cyprus, representing 12,2% of the population. According to the same Survey, 48% of such people stated that they were working while 36% were female.

Workers' safety, health and welfare - The workers´ right to safe and healthy working conditions is safeguarded by appropriate legislation. The core of the said legislation is a framework law, namely the Safety and Health at Work Law, which is line with the provisions of ILO Convention on Occupational Safety and Health and incorporates all the provisions of the European Union Directive 89/391/EEC. The Safety and Health at Work Law covers all workplaces in all sectors of economic activity regardless whether the workplace is private or public, and imposes duties on the employers, self-employed and employees as well as on the designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of articles and substances for use at work. The active involvement of both employers and workers in securing a safe and healthy environment is promoted by legislation regulating the establishment and operation of Safety Committees at the workplace.

The safeguarding of the health and safety of persons from the operation, use or handling of machinery such as pressure vessels, lifts and hoists, cranes, steam boilers, steam receivers and air receivers, is realized through the relevant provision of the Factories Law and Regulations issued under it. The protection of the safety and health of persons at work and of the environment from activities involving ionizing radiation is realized through the Ionizing Radiation Protection Law and Regulations issued under it. The protection of the safety and health of persons at work and of the environment from the use of chemical substances is effected through the enforcement of the Dangerous Substances Law and Regulations issued under it.

In the field of education and training on safety and health at work, the Training Centre on Occupational Safety and Health of the Department of Labor Inspection is involved in organizing and implementing training programmes, seminars and other awareness events for the inspectors as well as for other groups of persons playing a role in health and safety at work.

Industrial Pollution Control in Cyprus - The Industrial Pollution Control Section of the Department of Labor Inspection is responsible for the control of Atmospheric Pollution and for the safeguarding of the quality of the atmosphere of Cyprus. The achievement of this objective is materialized through the effective implementation of the legislation for the control of industrial pollution, on the basis of which an integrated system of prevention and control has been established that includes:

  • the licensing of industrial installations (Emissions Permit),
  • the systematic monitoring of their operation with on site inspections and stack emission measurements, as well as
  • the continuous monitoring and assessment of ambient air quality. The Section is responsible for enforcing the Atmospheric Pollution Control Law.

Through the licensing procedure established by the above Law, the applications of several industrial units have been examined by the Technical Committee for the Protection of the Environment chaired by the representative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance and the relevant Air Emission Permits have been granted. On the Permits issued, specific operating conditions and emission limit values for certain pollutants have been set, for the effective protection of the environment.

Within the framework of the implementation of legislation, particular importance is given to checking for compliance, of the operating conditions and of the emission limit values, specified in the permits. Priority is given to the monitoring, on a systematic basis, of those industrial installations, which by the nature of their processes and location are likely to cause higher adverse impact to public health and the environment. The large industrial plants have already proceeded with the installation of systems for the control of their emissions.

The Mobile Monitoring Unit of the Department of Labor Inspection, which is appropriately equipped with specialized instruments, periodically monitors emissions from various industrial installations in order to verify the compliance with the emission limits set on the Air Emission Permits. The monitoring of the operation of large-scale industrial installations is also effected by competent Inspectors through a data validation and control of the air emission values obtained from instruments installed at the stacks of the aforementioned installations. The establishment, by large-scale industrial installations, of a continuous emission-monitoring programme (self-monitoring) is set as a requirement on the relevant Air Emission Permits. In the case where the implementation of an air emission self-monitoring programme is set as a requirement on the relevant Permits, the Inspectors of the Department of Labor Inspection have the right to have access to the obtained environmental data. For the monitoring of ambient air quality, four mobile stations, fully equipped with automatic analyzers, are in continuous operation comprising a coherent national air quality monitoring network. Measurements of the most significant ambient air pollutants (SO2, NOx, VOCs, Dust, O3) at different locations in Cyprus show that the air pollutants in these areas are within the Air Quality Objectives for Cyprus. Periodically relevant reports on the status of air quality in Cyprus are published.

In December 2001 a two-year bicommunal project funded by UNOPS started to be implemented by the Department of Labor Inspection in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart, Federal Republic of Germany. The main aim of the project is the preliminary assessment of ambient air quality and drawing up of zones of pollution in Cyprus according to the EU framework directive on ambient air quality assessment and management. Within the framework of the process of harmonizing the Cyprus legislation to the European Union Acquis, the Department of Labor Inspection transposed into the Cyprus legislation all the relevant European Directives on issues related to the area of the control of atmospheric pollution and ambient air quality.

Human Resources, Training and Development - In Cyprus, which to all intends and purposes is devoid of any natural or other resources, its human resources become by far the most valuable asset and the most critical factor for economic and social progress. Thus and particularly in view of Cyprus now being a full member of the European Union, human resource development commands a significant position in national priorities.

Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus - The Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA) is a semi-government organization entrusted by Law with the responsibility for human resource training and development. To date, 25 years after the HRDA first started its operation, an integrated training system has been developed, the major constituents of which are the assessment of training needs, the planning, implementation and evaluation of training activities and the development of the training infrastructure.

Since 1995, through the Training Infrastructure Support Scheme, the HRDA has been at the forefront of setting up and further developing a booming training market, which includes public and private training institutions, specialized trainers and consultancy firms, with more than 150 training institutions/providers, employing more than 750 people. Most of this development was accomplished before the State Aid legislation in Cyprus was put into effect in compliance with the State Aid Regulation (EC No 68/2001) of the European Union. Since then, the Training Infrastructure Support Scheme is operated under the de minimis regulation.

Cyprus Productivity Centre - The main objective of the Cyprus Productivity Centre is the economic development and the improvement of quality of life of Cypriots within the European family of nations. This objective also includes the management training needs of the Cyprus Civil Service, as well as those of other developing countries. The Centre offers training through a wide range of upgrading courses and seminars for the private sector, consultancy services and information, covering all sectors of Management and offering direct and practical assistance to private business enterprises, and public organizations, and free advice/information to all business enterprises who are entitled to receive one day of free advice every six months on operational or other problems they may face.

The Centre also undertakes scientific projects/surveys that constitute a useful tool for diagnosing needs and problem areas and determining ways of improving productivity and promoting competitiveness. To upgrade the managerial and administrative capability in the public service, the Centre organizes training courses and seminars in appropriate management and public administration fields in such a way so as to satisfy specific needs at different levels, and in different areas of the public service.

Vocational Training - The objective of the Vocational Training Component of the Cyprus Productivity Centre is to make a significant contribution towards the modernization and upgrading of Cypriot business enterprises, through its multiple activities and services which include ab-initio and upgrading training, consultancy, and information in the major industrial trades.

European Programmes - The Cyprus Productivity Centre coordinates the functions of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance which was established within the framework of 'Leonardo da Vinci'. By decision of the Council of Ministers it undertook the establishment and operation of the National Agency for the implementation of the second phase of the European Programme Leonardo da Vinci for vocational training. Occasionally the Centre coordinates other European projects on behalf of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance.

Industrial Relations - Government policy in the field of industrial relations aims at sound industrial relations, and the maintenance of industrial peace, with a view to increasing social cohesion, productivity, and socioeconomic progress. The Government also promotes the development and fostering of tripartite social dialogue as the main method of formulating policies, and dealing with social and labor issues. Amongst the targets of the government in this field are the following:

  • the safeguarding of the freedom of association
  • the right to organize:
  • the encouragement of the growth of strong worker and employer organizations, and the fostering of tripartite cooperation through the widespread use of social dialogue,
  • the promotion of free collective bargaining as the main method for determining terms and conditions of employment,
  • the provision of assistance for the prevention and settlement of labor disputes
  • the protection of vulnerable groups of workers (mainly non-unionized), by determining their basic conditions of employment through legislation, and
  • the transposition and enforcement of the EU acquis in the area of labor legislation.

The Industrial Relations Service, of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance, acts as the national mediator for the settlement of labor disputes in the private and semi-government sectors of the economy, adhering to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Code, which is a voluntary agreement signed by the social partners in 1976, providing for procedural provisions for dealing with disputes over rights and disputes over interests.

The Service mediates in around 250 - 300 labor disputes every year, with more than 95% of these disputes settled without any side resorting to industrial action. Apart from the above the Industrial Relations Service is responsible, among others, for the enforcement of the Trade Union Laws, legislation for equal pay between men and women, collective redundancies, protection of employees' rights in the event of transfer of undertakings, parental leave, part-time employment, fixed-term employment, the organization of working time, the driving hours and rest periods of drivers, conditions of services for hotels and catering establishments, legislation for shop assistants, etc.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005