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Digitalisation and increased flexibility on Romania’s labour market

May 2021 – It is a well-known fact that the Romanian labour legal framework is seen as rather rigid, implying often procedures deemed as formalistic and slightly cumbersome.

The Covid-19 context and the need to perform work remotely exposed the practical impediments triggered by the current legal framework on a larger scale.

Following several months of debate, and given the recurrent question of whether employment documentation can be signed electronically, the Romanian government has finally adopted two enactments—not only for the purpose of digitalising the labour market, but also for providing more flexibility for micro-enterprises.

In a nutshell, Government Emergency Ordinance no. 36/2021 (“GEO 36/2021”) aims at simplifying labour relations by regulating the use of electronic signatures in all employment documentation, while Government Emergency Ordinance no. 37/2021 (“GEO 37/2021”) eliminates job descriptions and internal regulations for micro-enterprises with less than nine employees.

1. Electronic signature for employment documentation

As a preliminary note, to date the absence of a specific framework for electronic signatures for labour documents has not been deemed as a prohibition against the use of electronic signatures.

Theoretically, even if not expressly provided, employment documentation could be signed with a qualified electronic signature. The main reasons that employment documentation was generally signed with an ink/wet signature were as follows:

  • employees do not usually have a qualified electronic signature in line with the applicable Romanian legal provisions;
  • from a practical perspective, in the absence of specific provisions regulating the possibility to sign employment documentation electronically, Romanian labour authorities were reluctant to accept employment documentation signed with an electronic signature.

GEO 36/2021 expressly provides that:

  • the parties can conclude individual employment agreements and/or addenda, as well as all related employment documentation[1] by using an advanced or qualified electronic signature accompanied by an electronic time stamp or a qualified electronic time stamp and the employer’s qualified electronic seal[2];
  • the employer can bear the expenses (i.e., also for the employee) to obtain an advanced electronic signature accompanied by electronic time stamp or qualified electronic time stamp and the employer’s qualified electronic seal used to sign work/safety and health-at-work-related documents;
  • the employer can now use, in relation to public authorities, an advanced or qualified electronic signature accompanied by an electronic time stamp or qualified electronic time stamp and the employer’s qualified electronic seal.

Based on the above, the reluctance of the authorities and the practical impediments present before GEO 36/2021 should be eliminated.

Employees cannot be obliged by the employer to use an electronic signature, in which case a wet/ink signature shall be used by both parties.

Furthermore, proof of health and safety trainings can now be made also in electronic form by using an advanced electronic signature accompanied by a time stamp or qualified time stamp and the employer’s qualified electronic seal, depending on the method established by the internal regulation.

Within 60 days from the entry into force of the GEO 36/2021, a draft government decision to amend the methodological norms for the application of the provisions of Law no. 319/2006 on safety and health at work will be submitted for approval.

2. News on telework rules

GEO no. 36/2021 also brought several amendments to the telework regime that appear to be the result of the practical obstacles triggered by the Covid-19 context, e.g.:

  • the condition regarding the performance of an employee’s duties under the teleworking regime of at least one day per month has been repealed;
  • the obligation to include the work place(s) in the individual employment agreements or the addenda thereto has been repealed;
  • the employer is entitled to check the teleworker’s activity mainly by using information and communications technology, under the conditions provided in the individual employment agreement, the internal regulations and/or the collective bargaining agreement;
  • a small amendment was brought to the employer's obligation to provide conditions for the teleworker to receive sufficient and appropriate training in the field of occupational safety and health, in particular in the form of information and working instructions on the use of display screen equipment.

Based on the above, this enactment aims at easing the performance of work by employees from any location (without being specified in the employment agreement), including from the health and safety perspective. Details of the amendments to the methodological norms for the application of Law no. 319/2006 on safety and health at work remain to be seen.

Finally, teleworkers and employees working from home have the obligation to observe and ensure the confidentiality of the information and documents used for the performance of their duties.

3. Flexible rules for microenterprises[3]

    GEO 37/2021 eliminates the obligation of companies with less than nine employees to conclude job descriptions with their employees and internal regulations. However, upon the express request of the employee, the employer shall communicate the job description in written form.

    Even if these measures are well received by the business community—as they are aiming at increasing the efficiency of work relations—the absence of a job description and internal regulation may trigger difficulties for employers to implement sanctioning measures against employees.

    For this reason we anticipate further guidelines to be adopted to ensure the coexistence of a non-paper-driven environment with the employer’s possibility to adopt measures in line with its policies and business goals.

    For more information please contact Mădălina Anghenie, at

    e-mail

    , and Ioana Popescu, at .


    [1] Under the conditions provided in the internal regulation and/or collective bargaining agreement.

    [2] Within the meaning of Regulation (EU) no. 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC.

    [3] Defined under Law no. 346/2004 as companies with up to nine employees and net annual turnover/total actives up to EUR 2 million.