Employment Flash No. 11/2021 – Latest news in the labor law field

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07.10.2021 – Regarding the amendments to the Labor Code, minimum salary, nursery vouchers and meal vouchers and various types of state support measures.

Regarding the amendments to the Labor Code

Emergency Ordinance no. 117/5.10.2021 for the amendment and completion of Law no. 53/2003 –  Labor Code was published in the Official Gazette no. 951 of October 5, 2021.

Thus, receiving an employee at work in excess of the length of working time established in individual part-time employment contracts (except in cases of force majeure or other urgent work to prevent accidents or remove their consequences) represents administrative offence and will be sanctioned with a fine in an increased amount, starting from RON 10,000 and up to RON 15,000 (approx. EUR 2,000 – 3,000) for each person thus identified, without exceeding the cumulative value of RON 200,000 (approx. EUR 40,000).

The new legal provisions also introduce the concept of underdeclared work, which represents the granting of a net salary higher than that established and highlighted in the payroll statements and in the monthly declaration on the obligations to pay social security contributions, income tax and nominal record of insured persons, sent to the tax authorities. Undeclared work will be sanctioned with a fine from RON 8,000 to RON 10,000 (approx. EUR 1,600 – 2,000) for each employee identified in this situation, without exceeding the cumulative value of RON 100,000 (approx. EUR 20,000).

In addition, the breach by the employer of the obligation to pay the salary by more than one month from the date of payment established in the individual employment contract, in the applicable collective labor agreement or in the internal regulations, as the case may be, constitutes an administrative offence and is sanctioned with a fine from RON 5,000 to RON 10,000 (approx. EUR 1,000 – 2,000) for each person to whom the salary was not paid, except for the situation in which the employer is under the incidence of Law no. 85/2014 on insolvency prevention and insolvency procedures.

Another newly introduced change is the extension of the period of compensation for overtime work through paid days off from 60 to 90 days.

Regarding minimum salary

Romanian Government Decision no. 1,071/ 05.10.2021 for establishing the minimum gross basic salary guaranteed for payment at national level was published in the Official Gazette no. 950 of October 5, 2021.

According to the new provisions, starting with January 1, 2022, the minimum gross basic salary guaranteed for payment at national level for a normal working schedule of an average of 167,333 hours per month will amount to RON 2,550 (approx. EUR 510). Therefore, the minimum hourly value will be RON 15,239/hour (approx. EUR 3/hour).

Thus, the provisions no longer contain a differentiated level of the minimum basic salary for staff in positions for which the level of higher education is provided, with at least one year’s seniority in the field of higher education.

The new provisions do not affect the value established for the minimum wage in the field of construction.

Regarding nursery vouchers and meal vouchers

Order of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labor and Social Protection no. 1,244/901/06.10.2021 regarding the establishment of the value of the indexed monthly amount that is granted in the form of nursery vouchers for the second semester of 2021, respectively the Order of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labor and Social Protection no. 1,245 /902/06.10.2021 for establishing the indexed nominal values of a meal voucher for the second semester of 2021 were published in the Official Gazette no. 956 of October 6, 2021.

For the second semester of 2021, starting with October 2021, the value of the monthly amount granted in the form of nursery vouchers is RON 490 (approx. EUR 100), and the nominal value of a meal voucher cannot exceed the amount of RON 20.09 (approx. EUR 4). These values also apply for the first two months of the first semester of 2022, respectively February 2022 and March 2022.

Regarding various types of state support measures

Emergency Ordinance no. 110/2021 on granting paid days off to parents and other categories of persons in the context of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was published in the Official Gazette no. 945 of October 4, 2021.

Parents who have children up to 12 years of age or 26 years of age, in the case of those with disabilities, can again benefit from days off from the employer, in case of limitation or suspension of teaching activities that involve physical presence in schools and in preschool early education units. By limiting or suspending teaching activities that involve physical presence is meant reducing the frequency of children’s participation in classes in schools and implementing the use of technology and the Internet or other alternative ways of education to perform activities in the epidemiological context of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The new provisions also apply to children up to 18 years of age, under certain conditions.

For the purposes of this normative act, the term “parent” has a broad meaning, including, for example, the natural parent, the adopter, the person who has the child in foster care or guardianship or the parent or legal representative of the disabled adult enrolled in an education unit. The provisions also apply to the parent or legal representative of the unschooled child with a severe disability in the situation when the activity of the day service is limited/suspended, due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, as well as to parents who have in care and supervision the adult person classified as severely disabled or severely disabled with a personal assistant, only if they benefit from day services and the activity thereof is limited or suspended.

The enactment also provides for situations in which this benefit cannot be granted, such as the situation in which the other parent already benefits from these days off or when the parents are on annual leave or technical unemployment. Also, parents cannot claim this benefit if they work in teleworking regime.

For each day off so granted, an allowance is paid by the employer (who will be able to settle these amounts from the state) in the amount of 75% of the basic salary corresponding to a working day, but not more than the daily correspondent of 75% of the average gross earnings, which is of RON 5,380 (approx. EUR 1,080) in 2021. The mentioned normative act contains both the procedure of accessing the benefit by the employees, as well as the procedure for settlement by the employer of these allowances from the relevant state budget (to be supplemented by subsequent rules). Additional conditions for granting in specific cases are also provided, as well as rules on the applicable tax regime.

The benefit is applied during the state of alert and after its termination, but not later than the completion of the courses of the school year 2021-2022 (holidays being excluded).

The non-granting of this right by the employer, once requested, constitutes administrative offence and is sanctioned with a fine between RON 1,000 and RON 2,000 (approx. 200 – 400 EUR) for each person for whom the employer refuses to grant days off, without exceeding the cumulative value of RON 20,000 (approx. EUR 4,000).

Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2021 for the establishment of social protection measures for employees and other professional categories in the context of prohibition, suspension or limitation of economic activities, determined by the epidemiological situation generated by the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was published in the Official Gazette no. 945 of October 4, 2021.

The settlement of technical unemployment benefits is reinstated, until December 31, 2021, during the period of temporary cessation of activity, in whole or in part, in the context of the increase of the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and of the measures to reduce the impact of the type of risk provided by Government decisions prolonging the state of alert.

Thus, the allowances are set at 75% of the basic salary corresponding to the job occupied and will be borne from the unemployment insurance budget, within the same maximum limit of 75% of the average gross earnings (i.e., 75% of RON 5,380 – approx. EUR 1,080, i.e., RON 4,035 – approx. EUR 815).

Employees of employers with suspended activity as a result of the epidemiological investigation carried out by the public health directorates will also benefit from the granting of this allowance, except for employees on sick leave and who receive the related social insurance allowance.

If the employer’s budget for the payment of staff costs allows, the allowance may be supplemented by the employer.

With regard to the cumulation with other allowances, in a calendar month, employers may request the granting of the technical unemployment benefit and the settlement of the allowance for the reduction of working time (Kurzarbeit):

(a)  for the same period of the month, for different employees, respectively

(b)  for different periods of the month, for the same employee.

The mentioned normative act also stipulates the way of settling this allowance (to be detailed by additional norms), the applicable fiscal regime, but also the situations in which such indemnities will not be granted (e.g., employers on whom restrictions are imposed for other reasons than those caused by the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus).

Also, the allowances for authorized individuals and other professionals are reintroduced during the temporary interruption of activity, totally or partially, in the context of the increase of the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and of the measures to reduce the impact of the type of risk provided by Government decisions prolonging the state of alert.

The Romanian version of this newsletter is available here.

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