• Insights

The year ahead in Romanian labour law

Written by
Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen (NNDKP) largest boutique firm focusing on HR law.
After significant legislative updates and amendments in 2019, 2020 brings strong prospects for a series of projects, completing the previous year’s endeavours and introducing new proposals in the labour law domain. This article outlines the main areas where changes are anticipated for 2020.

A new value for the minimum base salary

Following a recent government decision that entered into force at the end of 2019, starting 1 January 2020, the new value of the minimum gross base salary has increased from RON 2,080 (approx. EUR 440) to RON 2,230 (approx. EUR 470), applicable to all employees on a full-time working schedule.

On the other hand, the differentiated values of the minimum gross base salary applicable to employees that have one year’s seniority in the field from which they have graduated, working in positions that require higher education graduates (currently RON 2,350 or approximately EUR 490) and to employees working in the construction industry (currently RON 3,000 approximately EUR 630) remain the same for 2020. The rationale behind these decisions is most likely related to the intention to have a unique general minimum gross base salary in the future (and not three types of minimum gross base salaries, which can lead to confusion and difficulties in practice).

New measures regarding the calculation of wages

A legislative proposal in this field introduces minimal indicators with the aim of establishing a hierarchy for the payment of personnel and workforce from the national economy and achieving a level of minimal protection and balance regarding remuneration. The legislative project contains a list of numeric values that correspond to hierarchic categories of workers (i.e qualified/unqualified workers, workers with higher education qualifications, administrative personnel etc.). These numeric values are to be applied (by multiplication) to establish the minimum guaranteed gross base salary for each category at a national level.

Balancing financial burdens

A legislative project outlines an important measure of assistance for employers: it concerns the financial burden of leave for temporary work incapacity. Currently, the employer bears the financial burden of the first five days of the employees’ leave for temporary work incapacity; following the proposed change, the state will beat the entire financial burden in this situation. The purpose of the proposed amendment is the elimination of any unfairness in the allocation of the financial burden between the state and employers.

Assistance for employees in various work-related situations

A series of legislative proposals, seek to ensure that employees can exercise a choice to be assisted by lawyers or employment law experts when contractual matters are negotiated. Currently, the law in force does provide for this possibility, but without specifying the nature of the third parties allowed to be present at these discussions. In addition, the project provides that certain problems and complaints related to the labour relationship could be solved by means conciliation between the parties involved, before reaching the courts.

Part of the proposal would also mean employers could be required to use only specialised personnel for human resources activities. This contrasts with the current situation, when virtually any employee, regardless of their level of experience, can be designated for an HR position.

Flexible working

In the context of employees’ developing interest and enhanced knowledge of their rights, employers face the challenge of making offers that best accommodate the work-life balance potential employees desire. Employees are increasingly aware of legislative developments that allow work flexibility and a classical approach in terms of working schedules (eight hours a day, five days a week) is no longer tempting to them, even if backed up by a good salary.

Following last year’s trend, the main challenge for the employers continues to be compliance with the legal requirements regarding the mandatory balance between the working hours and the rest periods, when they implement an unequal working schedule.

Another tendency that has emerged in practice is short Fridays and late Mondays, as more employers allow the employees to enjoy a prolonged weekend. For example, employees can leave work by 14:00 on Fridays and start Mondays at 12:00. In these situations, employers should be careful to keep records of the exact starting and ending hours of the working schedule and, particularly, of the hours that have been ‘shortened’. This is  another important point to note for  the year to come.

Roxana Abrașu
Partner - Romania
Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen (NNDKP)