Employment law – do you know your rights? By Remus Popovici – Founding partner of R&R Partners Bucharest When can I get a job? In order to be employed, you must be at least 16 years old and in good physical health. Employment at 15 years old is also possible, but only with the approval of parents or guardians and only for jobs suitable with the minor’s age and aptitudes. Employing any person under the age of 15 is strictly prohibited. The employees’ good physical health is determined by a medical exam. The doctor’s medical certificate following health examination is mandatory in the employment process. What is the probationary period? The employment period can begin with a probationary period of maximum 90 days for regular employees and 120 days for management positions. During this period, it is considered that the employer should asses if the new employee is suitable for the position, but also the employee should make his own assessment of the new job and position. During or at the end of the probationary period, both the employer or the employee can terminate the employment contract without prior notice. A probationary period cannot be set more than once on the duration of employment. Can I work without an employment contract? Working without a written employment contract is strictly prohibited and is subject to high fines from the Employment Authorities. These sanctions are normally applied to the employer, not the employee. But illegal employees also have a lot to lose by working without a contract, because they do not benefit from any medical insurance, social contributions, the work does not count as accumulated service and, very important, without a legal employment contract you cannot obtain temporary residency in Romania on employment grounds. My employment contract is for a limited duration of time, is that ok? Employment is normally made for an unlimited period of time, in order to protect the employee from the abuse of employers. However, according to Romanian law, a person can be employed for limited periods of time, for maximum 3 times in a row by the same employer. Contracts are considered successive if they are concluded less than 3 months apart. Employers should also facilitate the access of their employees to positions for work with unlimited contract duration and inform them if such positions become available. Can my employer ask me to work over-time whenever he wants? No. For full-time employees, work can amount to maximum 8h per day and 40h per week. If the employee is underage (under 18 years old), he can work a maximum of 6h per day and 30 h per week. Working hours are normally distributed evenly, 8h per day and 2 days of rest. A working day of 12 continuous hours should legally be followed by a rest period of 24 hours. Over-hours are only possible by mutual agreement of the employer and employee and must be compensated with respective paid leave in the following 60 days, or an increase in salary, according to the number of extra hours of work. Is there such a thing as legal right to ‘rest’? Yes. According to the law, employees who work more than 6 hours per day are entitled to lunch breaks and other such breaks during the day, according to the employment conditions. As regards weekly rest, it amounts to two consecutive free days, usually Saturday and Sunday. The law also sets forth a number of legal holidays: New Year’s (January 1st and 2nd); the day of United Principalities (January 24th); Easter Friday, Easter Sunday and the day thereafter; Labor Day (May 1st); June 1st, the first and second day of Pentecost (Rusalii); Assumption of the Virgin Mary; St. Andrew Day (November 30th), Romanian National Day (December 1st), first and second day of Christmas. Persons of any religion besides Christian Orthodox also receive 3 additional days of rest according to their declared religious holidays. As for the annual rest, normally referred to as vacation, an employee is entitled to minimum 20 days off by law, which does not include legal holidays. An employee cannot give up his right to vacation, but it is possible to postpone his days off. Money compensation for unrequested vacation days is only possible when the employment contract is terminated. During his annual vacation, the employee shall receive his salary as usual. Unpaid leave is also possible, strictly for urgent personal issues, based on the negotiations between the employer and the employees. Employees can also benefit from paid or unpaid leave for academic purposes, such as obtaining a degree or completing a course. Employers can only reject a request for academic leave if the company’s activity would be severely disturbed by the employee’s absence. What is an employment non-compete clause? The parties can include a non-compete clause in the contract, according to which the employee cannot work for another employer in the same field of activity, after the contract is terminated. However, this clause must clearly set forth the duration (2 years maximum) and the geographical area for which this prohibition operates, the exact activities/tasks it refers to and also a financial compensation to be paid by the former employer to the employee on the duration of the non-compete clause. This compensation shall be paid monthly to the former employee and is equal to minimum 50% of its former salary on the last 6 months prior to employment termination. If these provisions are not included in the non-compete clause, the clause is invalid. Is it possible to quit my job at any given time? Employees can resign from their job following a prior leave notice, according to their employment contract. However, this notice can be no longer than 20 days for regular employees and 45 days for employees on management positions. During this time, work will continue in normal conditions. An employee can quit without notice only in case of contractual default from his employer, e.g. withholding paychecks. Can the employer fire its employee at any time he wants? No. According to Romanian law, an employee can be fired based on misconduct (disciplinary dismissal) or because he is professionally unfit for the position, but also for reasons irrespective of his activity (reorganization of the company, terminating the employee’s positions, company down-sizing). For dismissal based on other reasons than professional misconduct, the employee should receive compensation from the employer. Also, firing an employee based on sex, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, ethnicity, state of handicap, political convictions or involvement in work strikes is strictly prohibited. It is also prohibited to fire a person during a period of quarantine, medical leave, pregnancy period, maternity leave, child rising leave or vacation. In case of unfair dismissal, the employer will have to reinstate the employee on its former position and pay all his wages following his dismissal, which can raise to a very high amount, depending on the case. What happens if I break the employment confidentiality clause? Employment contracts can contain confidentiality clauses, which operate on the duration of the contract and even after its termination. According to this clause, both the employee and the employer can be bound to never reveal any data or information they obtained while executing the contract. This kind of clauses can have a very general application and refer to all kinds of documents, commercial info, trade secrets, but also personal data. If any of the parties doesn’t comply with this clause, they will have to cover the full amount of damages caused to the other party, which can raise to a very high financial compensation. What can I do if my employer does not comply with his legal obligations? Employees can address the Local Employment Authority (in Ro: ITM – Inspectoratul Teritorial de Munca) with a complaint, detailing their working conditions and the legal obligations that their employer refuses to comply with. Following this complaint, ITM can carry out an inspection at the employer’s headquarters. If the problem at hand is employee discrimination, another authority you can address is the National Anti-Discrimination Council (in Ro: CNCD – Consiliul National pentru Combaterea Discriminarii). And, finally, you can of course file a lawsuit against your employer with the Tribunal corresponding to the employees’ domicile or workplace, for grounds such as unfair dismissal or unpaid wage. 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