THE government is set to clamp down on undeclared work through a bill which provides strict fines, and the introduction in Cyprus of a computerised system to better monitor employers.
According to Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou, undeclared work is at very high levels in Cyprus.
She said that soon, the ERGANI computerised system used by the Greek government, which monitors all businesses and the number of staff employed by them, will be introduced in Cyprus.
The introduction of this system is very important, Emilianidou said, as employers will have to declare electronically to the social security department the employment of any person on the same day he or she is hired. She added that ERGANI will be given to Cyprus for free by the Greek government.
As regards undeclared work, Emilianidou said that a bill has been completed which provides for strict fines. Undeclared work, she said, not only deprives a person of a job position, but those involved “have neither social security benefits nor a decent pension, or anything”.
“Steep fines must be in place, because only then will one face the consequences of his acts. Bad employers should be subject to heavy penalties. One of the ministry suggestions is for fines to be calculated according to a company’s turnover, if they are caught with an undeclared employee,” she said.
Currently, if an undeclared employee is detected, an employer have to start paying social insurance only from the day he or she is caught. The new bill provides that they will be forced to pay social insurance for at least the six previous months, unless authorities discover they have been employing the undeclared staff for a longer period of time.
“If someone starts paying social security today, it is not a major burden. However, if the employer is required to pay the previous six months, then it will be a heavy burden,” Emilianidou explained.
As regards the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), beneficiaries who are able to work but refuse to do so, will be deprived of this benefit, she said.
“Our policy is to subsidise work and not unemployment,” she said. “All our efforts are aimed at the integration of those who are able to work in the labour market and to safeguard the rights of workers”.
She added that her ministry, in cooperation with the hoteliers association, will arrange a number of meet-the-employers events where unemployed people who have expressed interest in working in the hotel industry will be matched with businesses, according to their skills. These events will take place in the Famagusta and Larnaca districts where there is a lack of trained hotel staff, she said.
The labour ministry is to also invite next month expressions of interest from unemployed persons for a caregivers’ training scheme. The aim is to train 500 people as caregivers to offer their services to pensioner households and families with special problems.