Romania: New changes to employment law and how employers can ensure compliance
I. New obligations regarding equal opportunity and treatment
Government Decision no. 262/2019 approving the implementing norms for Law no. 202/2002 on equal opportunities for and equal treatment of women and men was published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No. 333/2019.
Both, in the public and in the private sectors, the new provisions require employers:
(i) to explicitly state in their company policy that any behaviour defined as discrimination based on criteria related to gender is prohibited;
(ii) to ensure using all possible means of communication (e.g. meeting, flyers, etc.) that employees are informed of and have access to information regarding rights related to equal opportunities for and treatment of women and men in employment relationships; and
(iii) to draft an internal procedure detailing the necessary steps to be taken and to immediately inform the public authorities empowered to enforce and monitor compliance when an employer is notified of a potential violation of applicable law.
Remark: Law no. 202/2002 on equal opportunities for and equal treatment of women and men provides for an obligation on the part of employers to inform the competent public authority for enforcing and monitoring compliance if a possible case of gender discrimination is reported.
In order to prevent, fight and eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace, employers must also adopt a clear internal policy consisting of anti-harassment measures to eliminate tolerance of harassment in the workplace. The new regulations also include an example of how such policy is to be structured, the most important part of which is the procedure for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment/inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and a method for resolving such reports/complaints.
Remark: The new implementing norms state that the draft internal policy is to be prepared by the management of the company in collaboration with its HR department, its legal department, experts in the field of equal opportunities for and equal treatment of women and men if appropriate and the representatives of the trade union established at company level, if appropriate.
In addition to their obligation to prepare specific documentation, employers will have to conduct information campaigns or other similar actions to ensure that employees have a common understanding of the internal policies on harassment in the workplace and organise information sessions and specialised training in equal opportunities for and equal treatment of women and men for persons in the management of the company and other key positions.
Other mandatory actions and preventive measures include promoting an attitude based on mutual respect and good collaboration to ensure professional behaviour all times, including during meetings off the premises/outside business hours, as well as in the online environment.
To ensure compliance with the new regulations, employers should review company internal policies, procedures and actions aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating gender discrimination/sexual harassment to determine if they comply with the new requirements.
If such analysis reveals the need to implement an action plan, employers should analyse whether consultations with the representatives of the trade union established at company level are required and ensure that employees are informed of the changes that have been implemented and fully understand their rights and obligations.
II. A new category of additional leave introduced
Government Emergency Ordinance no. 26/2019 on the amendment and completion of certain normative acts was published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, no. 309/2019.
The new provisions amend the Labour Code and regulate additional leave for female employees undergoing in vitro fertilization. Such female employees will receive additional paid leave of three days to be granted as follows:
(i) one day for oocyte retrieval;
(ii) two days starting with the date of embryo transfer.
Employers will only be obliged to grant such paid leave to female employees who provide a medical letter issued by a specialist physician.
III. New CJEU ruling on the working time directive
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently decided that in order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights granted to employees by the Working Time Directive and the Charter, the Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system to enable measurement of the duration of time worked each day by each worker.
The Romanian Labour Code expressly regulates employers’ obligation to keep in the workplace a record of the hours worked daily by each employee, showing the starting and ending times, and to present this to work inspectors whenever requested to do so.