By Gabriela Dinu and Daniel Stancescu. Firm: Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen
This article sets out preventive measures recommended for employers in Romania dealing with coronavirus and how to manage employees who have returned from high-risk areas or who are placed in official quarantine.
Romanian legislation on health and safety at work includes a wide range of health and safety measures an employer must statutorily provide for its employees depending on the specific working conditions, such as working equipment, specific protection equipment, hygiene and sanitary related items, among others. However, there is no tailored provision regarding infectious epidemic scenarios.
Given the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, employers should pay attention to health and safety related measures to minimise the risk of infection in the workplace, thereby protecting their employees.
Some of the recommended measures, which can be easily implemented by employers, include the following:
- frequent disinfection of the workplace;
- providing employees with sanitary related items (such as hand sanitiser, soap, tissues for disinfection, etc.);
- limiting employees’ interaction with other people (such as work-related meetings), as far as possible;
- Llmiting business travel to the affected zones;
- encouraging employees who are experiencing symptoms to visit their doctor and to collaborate with the occupational physician regarding this;
- organising awareness or information campaigns in the workplace.
In addition, for the employees who have recently travelled to the affected zones and who are not quarantined by the competent authority (and who are therefore able to come to work), employers have the possibility of offering them paid time off or encouraging them to use their annual leave. This approach will mitigate the risks of spreading the disease if the employee turns out to have been infected, but is still asymptomatic. As an alternative, these employees can be encouraged to work remotely (i.e. work from home); specific clauses must be included in the employment agreement to facilitate this, or included in an addendum to the employment contract.
The competent authority may decide to place individuals who have been exposed in quarantine: these individuals may also be employees. Under the law, employees who are placed in quarantine will have their individual employment contract suspended. They will be also entitled to an allowance paid by the state. However, this entitlement to an allowance would not apply to individuals who unilaterally decide to isolate themselves at home, without being placed in quarantine by the competent authority. The allowance would also not be available to individuals who have not fulfilled the minimum statutory contribution period to the health insurance system.