Latest amendments and obligations for employers


Back in 2000, Romania passed Government Ordinance 137 regulating the prevention of all forms of discrimination (the Anti-discrimination Ordinance), including in the workplace. In 2002, a specific form of discrimination – gender equality – was addressed separately through Law 202 (the Gender Equality Law).

This article focuses specifically on the laws surrounding gender equality and the impact that such issues may have on workplace relations. Therefore, references made herein to a "legal provision" or to the "law" should be understood as the Gender Equality Law, unless specific reference is made to the Anti-discrimination Ordinance.

The Gender Equality Law addresses a wide range of issues related to gender or sex, including harassment, stereotyping and violence, whether such actions are committed inside or outside the workplace.

Having said that, the initial version of the law in 2002 defined important concepts (ie, direct and indirect discrimination, sexual harassment, etc), and set out a list of prohibited conduct in working relationships. It also created a general framework which was intended to broadly address gender equality in the workplace. However, due to a lack of secondary regulations and implementation norms, as well as poor enforcement of the law, the laws were not viewed as being particularly effective in changing employer behaviours or improving workplace environments.

Latest amendments and obligations for employers

Given the lack of impact that the laws had, a series of amendments were made to the Anti-discrimination Ordinance and the Gender Equality Law from 2015. The key amendments were those made in 2018 and 2020, as well as the publication of implementation norms for the Gender Equality Law in 2019. These required that employers take serious and affirmative actions in order to address gender equality issues in the workplace.

2018 amendments
Following the amendments in 2018, companies who have at least 50 employees must appoint a gender equality representative or an expert, which can be an employee of the firm or someone hired specifically for that purpose. The importance of the amendment resides not only in the obligation of the employer to create a specific position within the company, but also in the position's job description, which is provided by the law. The job description essentially sets out the approach that a company's gender equality representative must take to implement the required policies, including specifically designed projects and programmes.

Furthermore, while the obligation to put in place proper policies (irrespective of the number of employees that a company has) was provided by the law prior to the 2018 amendments, the newer amendments created the obligation for employers to ensure that their employees were well informed and understood their rights under the company's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

An additional clear signal of the increased seriousness of the issue as a matter of state policy was the creation of a new public agency for gender equality, under the authority of the Ministry of Labour. Its main role is to ensure the proper and effective implementation of gender equality principles in all aspects of state programmes, policies and institutions.

2019 implementation norms
The norms published in 2019 specifically set out what measures are expected from any employer (irrespective of the number of employees) in order to ensure the prevention and combating of sexual discrimination. It lists several actions to be taken including:

  • anti-harassment policies to be implemented (including mediation procedures within the company, reporting channels and reporting/petitioning rights of aggrieved individuals within and outside of the company/employer); and
  • ensuring the effective implementation and acknowledgement of such policies, including training sessions, awareness campaigns and projects for all employees, as well as specialised gender equality trainings for the management of the company.

The anti-harassment policies are to be drafted by the company's management in collaboration with not only the commercial parts of the business but also with human resources, the legal department and with the employees' representatives. The legislation is silent with respect to the extent of such collaboration; however, the management should at least request an input from the various departments of the company.

One of the most interesting provisions of the law is an obligation for the employers to "immediately" inform the competent authorities on gender equality about harassment complaints submitted by employees. Unfortunately, the law does not provide much more clarity than the sentence above, which is almost quoted verbatim. That is to say, the law fails to clarify any of the following aspects:

  • whether by "competent authorities" they designate labour authorities or the National Council for Combating Discrimination;
  • what it means as a practical matter to "inform the authorities immediately"; and
  • what such notice should comprise given concerns and rules respecting the identity of the person making a claim as well as reasonable protections to be afforded to the alleged perpetrator, who should have the right and ability to defend themselves.

The confusing nature of the provisions lies in that they allow for a certain level of subjectivity on behalf of the labour authorities. Of particular concern is how such matters will be addressed during any labour inspection. However, a properly drafted internal procedure by the employer should mitigate some of these risks. For example, both the labour authorities and the National Council for Combating Discrimination should be informed by employers in such situations as a matter of practice

It is advisable to be aware that, in efforts to protect victims, the law prohibits employers to unilaterally amend employment relationships, working conditions or to dismiss an employee who files a harassment complaint with the company's appropriate designated body, either prior to or after resolution of the issue, unless such dismissal is done based on reasons unrelated to the fact that the employee filed such a complaint.


Depending on the seriousness of the offence, in case of a breach of their obligations under the law, the employer and/or any other individuals perpetrating an offence may be subject to administrative fines (which can be up to €40,000) or criminal fines or sanctions. The difference is significant under Romanian law, as a criminal record may limit the ability of a company to operate in a certain manner (for example, impeding or hindering companies looking to apply for grants, enter into public tenders or even access loans).


For the reasons stated, it is recommended that companies review their current anti-discrimination and gender equality policies and ensure that they are up to date and in full compliance. This is particularly true with regards to the dissemination of the policies to (and ensuring the proper understanding of such policies by) the employees. It is anticipated that these issues will become a significant compliance matter for companies and large employers over the next few months given that authorities have indicated they will increase inspections in the near future.

For further information on this topic please contact Daniela David or Diana Neagu at Vernon | David by telephone (+40 2131 156 54) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Vernon | David website can be accessed at