Starting with 15th of May 2020, the state of emergency was replaced with the state of alert in Romania. Therefore, while the legislative context in continuous change is still imposing protective measures, the Romanian Government is looking to gradually relax the lockdown measures.
1. Measures impacting employment relationships
(i) Employees must consent for telework. Telework/work from home is strongly recommended where possible. However, telework may be performed only with the consent of the employees and cannot be unilaterally disposed by the employer, as during the state of emergency. Consequently, the general provisions of Law 81/2018 on teleworking must be observed, including the obligation to insert specific clauses regarding teleworking in the individual employment agreements.
(ii) The initiation of the collective negotiation is not mandatory during the state of alert. The validity of the collective bargaining agreements is maintained until the end of the state of alert and for a further period of 90 days after the state of alert is lifted. In this case, the employer and the employees have the obligation to initiate the collective negotiation within 45 days after the state of alert is lifted.
(iii) The Romanian Government is still offering state aid for technical unemployment by the end of May 2020.The state aid for technical unemployment as regulated by Government Emergency Ordinance 30/2020 is extended until 31 May 2020. The state aid may be further extended for the fields where activity restrictions will be maintained, but no longer than 31 December 2020. It is noteworthy that, during the technical unemployment, the employees are not allowed to perform any work duties unless the employers decide to resume business activities and to lift the suspension of the employment agreements.
(iv) Unilateral setting by employers of individualized work schedule is allowed during state of alert. During the state of alert, employers with more than 50 employees may unilaterally establish individualized work schedule to ensure one-hour difference between the employees at starting and ending hours, within a three-hour timeframe. Employers with 50 or less than 50 employees may implement this measure only with the consent of the employees or at their request.
(v) Unilateral setting by employers of individualized work schedule is allowed also for workplaces with more than 50 employees, irrespective if they are working for different companies. The employers who organize their offices within the same workplace, resulting a total number of employees larger than 50, may unilaterally amend the work schedule of their employees so that to ensure one-hour difference between the employees at starting and ending hours, within a three-hour timeframe, even if the number of employees of each company is less than 50.
(vi) The period for which the parents may take leave for children is extended by mid of June 2020. Parents will benefit from free days according to Law no. 19/2020 regarding the granting of free days to parents for the supervision of children, until the end of the courses within the school year 2019-2020.
(vii) Prior notice for resignation is suspended for certain categories of employees during the state of alert. The notice period in case of resignation is suspended within the entire period of the state of alert for the personnel working in health, social care and medical facilities, as well as in the fields of defense, public order and national security.
2. Measures related to workplace health and safety
(i) Health and safety trainings. Employers have to ensure health and safety trainings to all the employees who did not work from the company’s premises during the state of emergency, irrespective whether they worked from home or had their employment agreements suspended. In addition, the employees with health & safety responsibilities must be provided with trainings on COVID-19 infection risks;
(ii) Communication with the occupational medicine doctor. Employers have to ensure continuous communication with the occupational medicine doctor in order to monitor the health state of the employees;
(iii) Informing employees on the protection measures and social distancing rules. Employers have to post the mandatory rules for the employees and visitors at the entrance and in other visible places within the premises. The employees must also be informed, with priority by electronic means, on 3 key issues: on the mandatory protection measures and social distancing rules generally applicable under the legislation in force, on those particularly implemented within the employer’s premises, as well as on handling the situation when the employees or other individuals at the workplace present symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Protection measures and social distancing rules include a minimum of 1,5 m social distancing in public spaces, rigorous hand hygiene, avoiding touching the face, etc.;
(iv) Implementing organizational measures to ensure the social distancing, such as: a fixed number of employees allowed in the same room so that the social distance is ensured; limited access to common areas; special access and circulation lanes; distance marking strips; special places organized for vulnerable groups (individuals suffering from chronical diseases, individuals older than 65 years); scheduling the lunch breaks to ensure the minimum 1,5 m. between employees; using preponderantly electronic documents; limited travels outside the workplace, etc.;
(v) Implementing rigorous hygiene measures, such as: providing washing facilities and disinfectant dispensers for necessary frequent hand hygiene at the entrance/exit, near the workplaces, at the toilets, locker rooms and posting instructions on correct hand washing; avoiding the usage of the air conditioning installation; airing the offices by opening the windows at least one per day; weekly cleaning of shared spaces and workplaces, or whenever necessary; regular cleaning of door handles and handrails;
(vi) Scanning the body temperature. Employers have to scan the body temperature of the employees and visitors at the access point in the premises and not allow the access of the individuals presenting symptoms of COVID-19 infection;
(vii) Building disinfection and isolation of confirmed/suspect employees. In case of employees suspected of, or confirmed with, COVID-19 infection, they will be immediately isolated and sent home or at the health care units, depending on their state of health. Most of the times, it is not required to close the office/building, but appropriate disinfection measures must be taken. Moreover, the persons who had a prolonged contact (more than 20 minutes, at a distance less than 1,5 m and without protective mask) with the suspected/confirmed individual will be have to isolate at home for 14 days.
Musat & Associates
***Note that this paper was prepared based on the legislation in force at the time of writing (19 May 2020) and may be subject to further amendments.