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Romania

January 15, 2021

By Alexandra Rîmbu and Andreea Dinu

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Romania

KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2021


 

COVID‑19 related measures

Similar to many European states, Romania enacted many legal decrees/measures in order to keep the employment market viable during these unprecedented and peculiar times.

The key measures enacted by Romania are the following:

  1. the implementation of the popular German measure, namely the Kurzarbeit plan; the Kurzarbeit measure offers employers whose activity has been affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic the opportunity to reduce employees' working time and to pay them pro‑rata with their new working hours; the difference between the initial salary and the adjusted amount is borne by the state, to a certain extent;

  2. some additional economic (financial) support for businesses affected by the pandemic, consisting of support for the acquisition of telework related equipment and reimbursement of a certain amount of the paid salaries, where technical unemployment has been implemented (especially during the state of emergency);

  3. health & safety rules with a special focus on the employees who are to perform their activity at their usual work place;

  4. during the former state of emergency and current state of alert, all the collective bargaining agreements would remain in force, as well as for a period of 90 days after the termination of the current state of alert;

  5. telework instructions and recommendations have been enacted by the authorities in order to prevent the spread of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus and to ensure the health of the employees; and

  6. the period for granting unemployment benefit was extended for employees which became entitled to the same until 30 December 2020; thus, the extension consists of three more months of unemployment benefit.


 

New legal framework concerning discrimination

The Romanian legislator kept the focus on implementing and developing antidiscrimination enactments. The main novelty in this regard is represented by the extended definition of the concept of "moral harassment at the workplace."

The extended regulation of the concept, along with the considerable fines imposed by the new legal framework, is expected to raise more awareness on behalf of the employers on the moral harassment phenomenon, that has been increasing over time, and on the necessity to prevent the same.


 

Regulation of electronic signatures and teleworking

Taking into account the continuous development of the labour market and the need to establish more flexible working relationships, and at the same time ensuring the proper conditions for the development of the business environment, the Romanian Government is planning to regulate the electronic signature of the employment related papers.

Even if current legal framework provides exclusively for the print signature of both the employer and the employees on all the employment related documents, this is expected to change.

In addition, there are some anticipated changes with regards to the telework regime as well, especially related to the elimination of the current requirement for the employees to work from the workplace provided by the employer for at least a certain number of days per month.

The law in force provides that the employee shall work at least one day per month at their usual workplace. However, due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, this prerequisite was almost impossible to accomplish, the authorities being aware of this issue and trying to correct it consequently.

With thanks to Alexandra Rimbu and Andreea Dinu of Maravela, Popescu & Associatii for their invaluable collaboration on this update.

 

KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020


 

Penalty clauses in labour agreements

The Supreme Court of Romania (the High Court of Cassation and Justice) has recently held that penalty clauses in individual labour agreements will now be considered null and void. In addition, the inclusion of a penalty clause may result in the employer being subject to a fine ranging from approximately EUR 420 to EUR 1,050.

Penalty clauses were often used by employers in Romania in order to evaluate the value of damages if an employee were to breach certain obligations, such as their confidentiality obligations.


 

The New Pension Law

A new pension law will come into force on 1 September 2021, and includes changes that may have a significant impact on individuals.

The most important changes include a gradual increase of existing pensions, an increase in the value of the reference pension point as of 2022, and a change in the way pensions are to be calculated.

In addition, some inconsistencies of the previous system have been addressed and amended in a manner that is more favourable to beneficiaries. For example, the new pension law provides for an earlier retirement for women who have given birth to at least three children and that the time invested in attending masters and PhD programmes will be taken into account at the age of retirement.


 

Harassment and equal treatment of women and men

In line with the current social concerns, supplementary regulations have been enacted regarding the harassment and the equal treatment of men and women. Under the new rules, companies are under a specific obligation to have a clear internal policy aimed at eliminating tolerance of harassment whilst embracing anti-harassment measures. A new Government decision has confirmed the structure for the specific internal policy which must include, amongst other things, guiding principles, an indication of the legal framework, and details of the definition of unwanted behaviours and attitudes when referring to harassment in the workplace and sexual harassment.

In addition, employers will have to ensure that they use all possible means of communication (e.g., meetings, communications, e-mails, etc.) to regularly inform employees of their rights relating to equal opportunities and treatment of women and men in employment relationships.

 

KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2019


 

Implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”)

The GDPR came into force on 25 May 2018, entailing new aspects in connection with the processing of employees’ personal data.

The employees’ personal data may be processed by employers if (i) the processing is necessary for the performance of the employment agreement, (ii) the processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation of the employer or (iii) the processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the employer, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the employees.

For specific cases where consent would meet the GDPR conditions, the same could also be used as a legal basis for processing employees’ personal data. Nevertheless, since the GDPR provides that Member State law or collective agreements should provide specific rules on the processing of employees' personal data and such local legal enactments have not yet been issued, it is not recommended that employees’ personal data to be processed on this legal basis at present, as it is difficult to demonstrate that consent was freely given, due to the dependency that results from the employer-employee relationship.

The personal data processing practices and rules still represent an on-going process and are expected to be further clarified in 2019.


 

Internship rules introduced

Pursuant to a law which came into force in August 2018, the internship contracts, rules and a stimulation scheme for hiring interns have been specifically introduced in the Romanian legislation. As per the enactment, an internship can be concluded for a maximum period of 6 months. If the employer concludes an individual labour agreement within 60 days of the completion of the internship program, it receives an employment incentive in the amount of RON 4,586 (approximately EUR 1,000) for each former intern employed, provided that the working relations with the former interns are maintained for an uninterrupted period of at least 24 months.

Such enactment represents a step forward which will encourage the companies to hire interns in the years to come.

With thanks to Alexandra Rîmbu and Andreea Dinu of MPR Partners for their invaluable collaboration on this update.

Contributors

Image: Suzanne Horne
Suzanne Horne
Partner, Employment Law Department

Image: Kirsty Devine
Kirsty Devine
Associate, Employment Law Department

Image: Aashna Parekh
Aashna Parekh
Associate, Employment Law Department

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