By Christmas a bill will be tabled to parliament requiring employers to provide suitable seating for the thousands of workers currently required to stand for long hours in jobs where they could actually sit.

For workers whose jobs do not facilitate sitting, employers must provide scheduled breaks.

The issue was discussed at the House labour committee on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail after the session, committee deputy head and Akel MP Giorgos Koukoumas said that the law stipulates that adequate seating will need to be provided for employees who can do at least part of their job while seated.

In the event that job a must be done while standing for long periods of time, he added that the employer would then be required to provide adequate breaks.

He said that as employers are required to follow safety instructions, and if employees are subjected to prolonged hours standing, measures must be taken to deal with the issue just as with any other safety rules.

If the bill is passed, then the labour inspection department will have to carry out checks to ensure law is being enforced at all businesses, he said.

Koukoumas said the draft bill by Akel was recently discussed at the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council and then at the Labour Advisory Body, “where the spirit of the proposal was embraced by all”.

He added that following these discussions a bill was prepared covering the needs of all working people.

“For us, it is very important that this legislation be passed, because thousands of workers, in many workplaces, who work endless hours standing, in addition to the daily physical strain, accumulate in the long term, more serious health problems,” he said.

Koukoumas also mentioned an EU safety and health study, which showed that workers who stand for prolonged periods can develop rheumatism or musculoskeletal diseases.

He added that the legislation must be passed immediately and before the Christmas holidays, because at Christmas there will be thousands of workers in the retail trade, at a time when business will be intense and they’ll be required to stand for endless hours to serve customers.

With the new bill, Koukoumas said, Cyprus will be more fully harmonised with the provisions an EU directive regarding the implementation of measures to promote the improvement of the safety and health of staff during work hours.