Do I need to review my Labour Contracts?

As Employment lawyers in Romania we are very well aware that digitisation and Covid has caused transformation of the Romanian labour market. Traditional labour relations and new strategies to increase competitiveness and flexibility at work while maintaining a high level of social protection for employees have needed to be developed.

The legislative framework in Europe to the new labour market directives namely EU Directive (EU) 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union, and (ii) Directive (EU) 2019/1158 on work-life balance for parents and carers and the repealing of Council Directive 2010/18/EU has now been transposed into the Romanian law.

The majority of the rights and rules have been introduced through Law no. 283/2022 amending and supplementing Law no. 53/2003 – the Labour Code, and Government Emergency Ordinance no. 57/2019 on the Administrative Code, which was promulgated on 17 October 2022.

The most important changes incorporated into Romania’s legislative framework are brought about by the two EU directives and the Romanian law no. 283/2022. The Directive and the law targeted specific areas and the comments below identify the major areas of change. Reconciling work and personal life is difficult to achieve given the current trend of blurring the boundary between work and spare time in the face of the digital economy; also an aging population can also provide other stresses in the system and in families and work life.

Some legislative steps have been taken to support employees with family responsibilities.
a. The right to be granted additional carer’s leave of 5 working days within a calendar year to provide personal care or support to a relative or a person living in the same household. This is in addition to the current care leave including cancer patient care leave – the latter being recently introduced this spring.
b. The right to be absent from work in case of family emergencies for a maximum of 10 working days/year, subject to prior notification to the employer and with recovery of the period of absence;
c. For fathers the right to paternity leave, the duration of such leave is increased from 5 days to 10 working days.

The new legislative amendments define working time and establish the right of employees to request individualised work schedules, as well as the obligation of employers to justify in writing any refusal within 5 working days of receiving the request.

It is prohibited to discriminate against or dismiss employees on the grounds that they have exercised their legal rights and the prohibition also applies during parental leave, carer’s leave, or absence from work for family emergencies.

The legislation also aims to improve the working conditions of employees by promoting more transparent and predictable working conditions while ensuring adaptability in the labour market.

Employers are now required to provide additional information in writing. Employers should now consider updating their individual draft employment agreements and amend any individual employment agreements of current employees. It should be noted that the matters set out below are also applicable in relation to any offer sent to a potential employee. The additional information should be in relation to:
• whether travel between workplaces in the absence of a fixed place of work is provided for or paid for by the employer;
• indication of the separate elements of the salary, as well as the indication of the method of payment of the salary;
• conditions for the performance and compensation of overtime, as well as the method of organising shift work;
• conditions of the probationary period;
• the right to and the conditions of professional training provided by the employer;
• any private medical insurance, contributions to the voluntary pension or to the employee’s occupational pension, costs borne by the employer according to the law, as well as any other social benefits granted by the employer when they constitute money or in-kind given or paid for by the employer.

In the event of failure to comply with the obligation to provide the above information an aggrieved candidate or employee may submit a complaint to: (i) the Labour Inspectorate or the employer’s own inspection bodies, or (ii) the competent court, and may claim compensation corresponding to the damage suffered.

In addition to the current mandatory provisions, the internal regulations of employers will also need to include (i) rules on period notice, and (ii) information on the general training policy for employees, if any.

Employers will have to communicate the internal regulations to employees, either on paper or in electronic format, but it is important for the employer to be able to prove that it has been properly communicated.

In addition, Romanian legislation includes the new specific obligations on employers of which they need to be aware. These are in relation to other matters such as:
a. Side employment: employers are prohibited, apart from Romanian legal exceptions, from restricting an employee’s choice of employment outside the working hours with that employer, or from applying any unfair or unequal treatment to the employee because of such outside employment.
b. Transfer to a more favourable form of employment: employees who have been working for the same employer for at least 6 months and who have finished their probationary period have the right to apply for a transfer to a vacant position offering more favourable working conditions. Consequently, the employer is obliged within 30 days of receiving such a respond to the employees request in writing and if refused giving reasons,
c. Increased protection against dismissal or unfair acts by an employer against any employees who have requested or exercised their legal rights or having initiated complaints or proceedings for the purpose of enforcing legal rights, and the right to bring an action before the competent court for compensation and, where appropriate, for restoration of status quo ante.

In order to implement these new Romanian legislative amendments, employers will have to update their individual employment agreements, collective labour agreement, internal regulation, and other relevant internal policies accordingly.

The new law is in some places vague and unclear but not withstanding this we would advise all employers to review or have reviewed their current documentation with a view to it being updated to reflect the current law. For new employers it is important to ensure that the form of contract which they will use for their employees conforms with the new form as provided by law. The Ministry of labour will provide such form and it is important that this form is followed.