July 2017 - The Romanian Ministry of Labour and Social Justice has proposed new legislation to regulate telework (remote work) in Romania. While the initiative targets the implementation of the European Framework Agreement on Telework (2002), it also naturally responds to the spread of remote work using the Internet, home computing systems and other devices. Among the expected benefits of the proposed legislation are a reduction of employee-related costs for companies and improvement of the work-life balance for employees.
The draft law is currently under public debate and is expected to enter into force within the next few months. We anticipate that this new legislation will influence HR strategies and work-structuring processes in many business sectors that are compatible with telework, particularly the IT sector.
Essentials on telework
Telework is a form of work organisation where activities that could be performed at the employer’s organised place of work are regularly and voluntarily carried out by a full-time employee using information technology outside the employer’s premises.
To qualifiy as telework:
i. work should be performed outside the employer’s organised place of work using information technology and communications;
ii. teleworking activities should be performed at least one day per month;
iii. the employee has agreed to perform telework by signing an individual employment agreement or an addendum thereto.
The decision to carry out telework is voluntary and reversible upon the consent of both the employer and employee. The employee’s refusal to carry out telework cannot be a reason for disciplinary sanctioning.
Teleworkers benefit from the same rights as comparable workers at the employer’s premises.
Additional provisions in telework agreements
The specificities of telework determine the obligation to include in the individual employment agreements and/or addendums thereto provisions such as:
- expressly providing for the telework regime;
- the period and/or days when telework is performed;
- the place(s) agreed by the parties from which the teleworker performs his/her work;
- employer’s methods of control over the teleworker and the timing for exercising such control;
- how working hours are recorded;
- health- and safety-related responsibilities;
- measures to avoid isolation of the teleworker and for guaranteeing the possibility to meet co-workers on a regular basis.
Teleworkers shall not perform overtime. Their working hours and the employer’s methods of control over their work shall be agreed and provided in (a) the individual employment agreement, (b) the employee handbook, and (c) the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Occupational health and safety
The employer is responsible for the occupational health and safety of the teleworker. The teleworker shall comply with all health and safety policies. To verify that health and safety provisions are complied with, the workers’ representatives and/or relevant authorities have access to the place of performance of the telework. If the teleworker works from home, access is subject to prior notification and the teleworker’s consent.
The sanctioning regime regulates various administrative fines for a breach of the employer’s obligations regarding teleworkers. For example, failure to comply with the obligation to conclude a full-time individual employment agreement for a teleworker is sanctioned with an administrative fine of RON 10,000 (approx. EUR 2,222) per person, while a breach of the prohibition to perform overtime is sanctioned with fine of RON 3,000 to RON 5,000 (approx. EUR 667 to EUR 1,111).
Companies can pay half of the minimum administrative fine applied by the labour inspectors if the fine is paid within 48 hours of the issuance of the sanction or communication thereof.