Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your country?
Romanian labour legislation is primarily designed to protect the rights of the employees, in line with EU law. To this end, it provides a set of minimum mandatory standards governing employment relationships. This employee-friendly approach can also be seen, to a large extent, in court practice.
Romanian labour relationships are quite formal. All of the minimum standards and procedures set out by law must be strictly observed; if they are not, the courts may invalidate them, the labour inspectors may fine the employer and employees may be entitled to damages for any prejudices incurred.
What do you consider unique to those doing business in your country?
Romanian labour legislation has many grey areas and certain provisions on labour-related topics conflict. Moreover, although the unions are quite active, there are no national or industry-level collective bargaining agreements. Thus, in many cases the legal regime and procedures to be carried out are unclear. As a result, court practice and interpretations by labour inspectors play a significant role in the assessment of the applicable rules and procedures.
Is there any general advice you would give in the employment area?
The Romanian authorities are keen to ensure compliance with the labour rules; thus, employers are advised to adhere to them strictly. Employers should establish close communication with the relevant labour inspectors, as this may prove useful in understanding the authorities' view on labour legislation.
In addition, employers should always seek to draft comprehensive, detailed and well-structured internal regulations, which may prove useful in both covering certain grey areas of legislation and properly conducting certain procedures, including disciplinary procedures, lay-offs, employee evaluations and bonuses. The importance of internal regulations cannot be overestimated given that they are issued unilaterally by the employer (employee approval is not required) and are legally binding on the employees.
EMERGING ISSUES/HOT TOPICS/PROPOSALS FOR REFORM
Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your jurisdiction?
No comprehensive reforms are foreseeable in the near future. However, amendments and improvements to specific sections of the labour legislation are debated occasionally. Most recently, the Ministry of Labour initiated two bills to:
- regulate internship agreements (governing the relationship between employers and interns) – since Romanian law lacks regulation in this respect, the new law is expected to cover a major hole in the existing legislative framework; and
- modify the Labour Code by:
- extending the definition of 'labour performed without proper registration';
- imposing an obligation to register any changes to an employment agreement before implementation (rather than within 20 days of signing the addendum to the agreement, as is presently the case); and
- requiring employers to document the daily working hours of each employee (including the hours of commencing and finishing work) and to present such information to the labour authorities on request.
What are the emerging trends in employment law in your jurisdiction?
Electronic communication is gaining importance in labour procedures; the Supreme Court recently recognised that dismissals can be notified via email provided that certain conditions are met.
In addition, the courts have begun to take a more balanced approach towards employers (as opposed to the general status quo whereby employees are favoured).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.