Unemployment Benefit in Cyprus
The unemployment benefit scheme in Cyprus is administrated by the Social Insurance Service Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance in cooperation with the advisory Social Insurance Board and the Director of Social Insurance Services.
Who are the beneficiaries of unemployement benefit?
The beneficiaries can be persons who lost their job and who belong to one of the following categories:
- persons aged between 16 to 63 who have been legally employed in the Republic of Cyprus;
- persons aged between 64 to 65 who have been legally employed in the Republic of Cyprus and do not qualify for old-age pension;
- voluntary contributors who have worked abroad for a Cypriot employer.
Self-employed persons are not entitled to unemployment benefit.
The Qualifying Conditions for Unemployment Benefit in Cyprus
In order to receive unemployment benefit the claimant needs to meet these conditions:
- has been insured for at least 26 consecutive weeks up to the date of unemployment (approximately 6 months);
- has paid social insurance contributions during the employment period of not less than 26 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings* (0.50 insurance points);
- has paid and/or assimilated social insurance contributions of at least 20 times the weekly amount of basic insurable earnings (0.39 insurance points) in the previous contribution year.
How Is the Unemployment Benefit Calculated?
The unemployment benefit consists of a basic benefit and a supplementary benefit calculated weekly:
- the weekly rate of the basic benefit is equal to 60% of the person’s average weekly basic earnings* for which she/he paid contributions in the last contribution year, increased to 80%, 90% and 100% for one, two or three dependants respectively (maximum three dependants).
- the weekly rate of the supplementary benefit is equal to 50% of the average weekly earnings exceeding the basic covered earnings*, for which the beneficiary had paid social insurance contributions in the last contribution year**. The maximum amount of supplementary benefit is up to twice the weekly basic covered earnings. A spouse (male or female) is considered dependant if she/he is neither working nor receiving any benefit from the Social Insurance Fund. If both spouses are entitled to unemployment benefit for the same period, the increase for dependants is only paid to the spouse who is entitled to an increase of benefit at a higher rate.
*The weekly amount of basic insurable earnings is €174.38. This amount is adjusted once a year according to the changes in wages. The maximum amount of weekly covered earnings is €1,046.
**If the application is submitted on the first semester of the year, the earnings of last contribution year are considered to be those achieved two years before. If the application is submitted in the second semester, the earnings of last contribution year are considered to be those of the last calendar year. For example if the application is submitted in the first year of 2014, the previous contribution year would be 2012, but if the application is submitted in the second semester of 2014 then the previous contribution year would be 2013.
How Long Is the Unemployment Benefit?
The unemployment benefit is paid for 156 working days (approximately 6 months) starting from the third day after the person became unemployed and after the first 30 days in the case of a voluntary contributor who worked abroad for a Cypriot employer.
Signing up for Unemployment Benefit
In order to apply for unemployment benefit the claimant must register at the nearest Unemployment Office. The following documents are required in original at the time of registration:
- the ID of the applicant;
- the Temporary Residence Permit / Immigration Permit / Yellow Slip from the Civil Registry and Migration Department in case of EU citizens;
- the termination letter from the employer mentioning the period of employment;
- a statement of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) signed and stamped by the applicant’s bank with the full details of the bank account where the payment will be received;
- copies of the diplomas and other professional certificate owned by the applicant, in Greek or English. If the documents are issued in another language the official translation can be done by the Cyprus Press and Information Office for a small fee.
To avoid any misunderstandings the applicant should also know her/his social insurance number. The Unemployment Offices are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00am-1:00pm.
Once arrived at the Unemployment Office the applicant should register first at the Labour Department Desk, which is in the same building, in order to prove his/her availability for work. The Labour Department Desk will issue the R210 (ES19) form which is needed afterwards for registering at the Social Insurance Desk at the Unemployment Office building.
The Social Insurance Desk will then issue a form with the details of the applicant’s last employer. This form must be completed, signed and stamped by the applicant’s last employer and it should state the reason of firing / resignation and the total earnings for the entire period of employment. The form must be returned to the Social Insurance Desk in order to be issued the Y.K.A. 283 form (the blue slip).
During the unemployment period the applicant must regularly visit the Unemployment Office in order to sign the register. The visits must be on specific days and times as stipulated by the Social Insurance Desk and the Labour Department Desk in the Y.K.A. 283 and R 210 (ES 19) forms. Every time the applicant is called at the Unemployment Office to sign the register, she/he needs to present the following documents in original:
- the ID
- the Temporary Residence Permit / Immigration Permit/ Yellow Slip from the Civil Registry and Migration Department in case of EU citizens;
- the Y.K.A. 283 and R 210 (ES 19) forms.
Penalties and Interruptions
During the period of unemployment the beneficiaries must be capable of and available for work and must present personally to the Unemployment Office on the dates and at the times required. The beneficiary is no longer considered unemployed for the periods when:
- is unable to work because of illness;
- is on leave;
- works in an additional occupation to her/his former usual employment from which the beneficiary earns at least 1/12 of the basic insurable earnings amount*. In this case the beneficiary finds any additional occupation she/he must declare these earnings and present a proof of payment to the Unemployment Office;
- the employer pays her/his salary;
- on Sundays.
The unemployment benefit might not be paid or might be interrupted for the above periods.
Up to six weeks of unemployment benefit can be deducted in the following situations:
- the person leaves the job voluntarily, without a good cause or is guilty for losing her/his job;
- the unemployed person refuses a suitable job offer or fails to submit an application for a suitable position;
- the beneficiary refuses or neglects without a cause to attend vocational training classes as indicated by the Director of Social Insurance.
Re-qualifying for Unemployement Benefit
To re-qualify for unemployment benefit a person must be insured for another 26 weeks of work after the date of exhaustion and pay social insurance contributions on earnings of at least 26 times the weekly basic covered earnings.
Persons over the age of 60 who do not receive any pension under an occupational scheme or any provident fund benefit, can re-qualify for unemployment benefit after the date of exhaustion if they satisfy the same conditions as for re-qualifying for sickness benefit (13 working weeks instead of 26 after exhaustion date).
If during the unemployment period the beneficiary finds a suitable job, she/he must inform in person the Unemployment Office to stop the unemployment benefit. The unemployment benefit cannot be stopped by phone or by not signing the register during the required visits. If during the first 6 months probation at the new job the employer or the employee decides to stop the employment due to any reason, the applicant can reopen the unemployment benefit for the remaining period and no penalties are applied. For example if the applicant has received unemployment benefit for 100 working days, then she/he starts a job but during the first 6 months of employment the applicant or his employer decides to stop the collaboration, than the applicant is entitled to reopen the unemployment benefit for the remaining period of 56 working days.
If more than 6 months of work and paid contributions have passed, the employed individual is entitled to re-qualify for unemployment benefit for another 156 working days.
European Citizens rights to unemployment benefit
In case an unemployed person is an European citizen who wishes to return to her/his country of origin, the unemployment benefit from Cyprus can be transferred this country. In this case the person must announce the Unemployment Office about this decision and make all formalities at the nearest Social Insurance Office. Then the applicant can receive the unemployment allowance from Cyprus in her/his own country and sign the register at the local Unemployment Office from her/his home town. The transfer of unemployment benefits usually takes 3 months, but in some cases it might be extended up to 6 months. For more information contact the Social Insurance Services Department in Cyprus.
Unemployed people who wish to register as job seekers in their country of origin must contact the employment services in their country. Unemployed citizens who face problems getting their rights recognised should contact the European Assistance Services here.