Once again the #HRSpotlight shines on another industry leader. This time, Tiberiu Csaki, Dentons Partner, shares his analysis on employment law and other subjects, all drawn from more than 30 years of experience. You can also join the Dentons Head of litigation and arbitration, restructuring & insolvency, and employment practice groups for more valuable insights during the All Star Panel titled Employer Branding: keys to success | Moving Forward, Together, at BR’s upcoming Working Romania conference, September 29 at Courtyard by Marriott Bucharest Floreasca and online in BR’s dedicated HR networks on Facebook and LinkedIn.
BR: How can employers manage the work force challenges during the pandemic?
Tiberiu Csaki: Employers face a tough dilemma, in the current economic downturn context due to the pandemic and lack of predictability regarding its long-term effects. They have to decide to either keep the work force as it is or to proceed to redundancies.
On one hand, a critical mass of employees is needed to keep the business running and this would make employers rather reluctant in resorting to drastic redundancies. Most likely, such employers would prefer options to reduce the labor-related costs by implementing flexible alternatives.
On the other hand, there are employers severely affected by the economic downturn, that are in the situation of reducing or even closing their operations, and this triggers quick partial or total redundancies.
Ultimately, the actual options of the employers largely depend on the industry where they operate and the financial strength of the company.
Are there flexible ways to maintain the work force and are they efficient in the current context?
The Labor Code and the secondary legislation specifically applicable during the state of emergency or state of alert provide the employers with various options allowing them more flexibility in managing their work force.
Without getting into technical details, there are alternatives where the employees’ consent is required: partial time labor contracts, Work from home – not to be mistaken with the telework, individually-customized work schedule and telework, when the employee works remotely by using IT&C means at least 1day/month.
There are also measures when employees` consent is not required, such as reduction of weekly work schedule from 5 to 4 days per week, temporary suspension of labor contracts – the so-called technical unemployment and short time work or “Kurzarbeit”, meaning reduction by 50% of the employees’ working schedule.
Other alternative measures in case of temporary reduction or suspension of employer’s activity include paid vacation leave, according to the set-up planning and having the consent of the employee, unpaid leave, if requested by the employee, and paid time off, in compensation of overtime.
What are the redundancy measures that can be implemented by employers?
Firstly, we may speak about collective dismissals, that are subject to prior consultation and notification procedure based on the Labor Code and applicable collective labor contracts that may provide for severance packages. Secondly, there are individual dismissals if related to specific job positions that are redundant. Thirdly, there is the mutual termination, based on agreed terms with the employee, usually subject to a monetary compensation.
What should employers do in this current context?
Due to the lack of predictability related to the pandemic and complexity of the implications, not only of economic nature but also involving at same serious health protection concerns, there is no standard recipe to deal with this.
The options should be customized on a case by case basis, depending on the impact of the pandemic on the business, the capability and willingness of the employees to adapt and last but not least, the financial health of the company.
Nevertheless, the most appropriate in the current context seem to be the flexible alternatives, allowing the employers to continue operating and the employees to keep their jobs.