RCC ESAP 2: Western Balkan Enforcement Authorities Explore Cyprus' Approach to Undeclared Work and Discuss Platform Work

27 October 2023
Study Visit to Labour Inspectorate of Cyprus - Family photo (Photo: RCC/Henri Koçi)
Study Visit to Labour Inspectorate of Cyprus (Photo: RCC/Henri Koçi)

RCC ESAP 2 Organised a Two-day Thematic Study Visit to Cyprus Labour Inspectorate, Focused on Tackling Undeclared Work in the Western Balkans within Its Mutual Assistance Projects

Cyprus – Seventeen representatives of the Western Balkan enforcement authorities - Labour Inspectorates and Tax Administrations visited Labour Inspectorate of Cyprus in a two-day Study Visit. The aim of this thematic visit was enhancing their performance in tackling undeclared work through holistic approach, in an attempt to transform undeclared  into declared work, as well as to discuss  fairly new form of work  – platform work. The Study Visit was organised by the Regional Cooperation Council’s (RCC) Employment and Social Affairs Platform 2 (ESAP 2) project in partnership the Labour Inspectorate Cyprus.

Andis Apostolou, supervisor of the Cyprus’s Labour Inspectorate and Director of the Department of Labour Relations, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance who hosted his Western Balkan peers said that he and his colleagues were extremely pleased to host colleagues from the region and share their experiences in tackling undeclared work. Apostolou and his team of seven labour inspectors operating in Cyprus presented the evolution of their institution since 2007 when the rate of undeclared work was 27% to date, when the innovative approach to inspections reduced it to 8%. He also underlined that there always was a room for improvement and that they are working to enhance their practices especially in data-sharing domain, thanking his Western Balkan colleagues for sharing their experiences that could contribute to efforts to further modernise their operations.  

Ratka Babic, RCC ESAP 2 Acting Team Leader thanked the host for their hospitality and willingness to share their experiences with the Western Balkans’ colleagues, adding that exposure to good practices and continuous exchange between the peers leads to new, improved solutions some of which have already been introduced thanks to mutual assistance projects within the ESAP 2 project. 

The first day of the Study Visit was dedicated to practical, hands-on learning. Following a warm morning welcome from the host inspectorate, the participants were divided into two groups, each visiting different construction sites to conduct on-site inspections. This allowed them to gain new knowledge and see the best practices in the field, which they could apply in their everyday work in the future. Their mission was to check for the presence of undeclared workers and under-declared wages, demonstrating a practical example of tackling undeclared work, and exchanging inspection methods, procedures and good practices with the host Inspectorate. The day continued with informative presentations on the topic of platform work. Professor Ioana Alexandra Horodnic, the RCC ESAP2 Lead Expert on undeclared work and her team, introduced the subject, followed by presentations from Western Balkans enforcement authorities who presented the current situation in their respective economies regarding platform work, including legal frameworks and the challenges they face in regulating this fairly new form of work.  

On the second day, the participants had the opportunity to engage in an in-depth discussions about the position of the workers and improving their status, collective agreements, challenges on the legal framework regarding platform work with two employers’ and three workers’ trade unions in Cyprus. This dialogue enabled a broader understanding of the challenges associated with workers’ rights, undeclared work and the potential solutions to address them. 

This Study Visit comes after the successful completion of Mutual Assistance Project visits in Western Balkan economies in July 2023, as well as a one-day workshop on under-declared work held in Tirana, Albania in late September. These activities signify a collective commitment to combat undeclared work and promote ethical employment practices in the region.

The RCC ESAP 2 project in partnership with the Labour Inspectorate Cyprus organised the Study Visit/Working Exchange as a part of its activities supporting the Western Balkans Network for Tackling Undeclared and the RCC ESAP 2 Mutual Assistance Projects (MAPs). The MAPs are designed as the demand-driven interventions aimed at providing practical, hands-on, and tailored learning exchange, supporting the needs of a specific host enforcement authority. They help solve issues, provide advice and implementation support. MAPs offer the host enforcement authority the opportunity to exchange ideas with a group of peer experts (colleagues from equivalent enforcement authorities in other economies).