Working Romania | Catalin Roman (Noerr) on the legal aspects of telework and more flexible working hours

Mihai Cristea 04/05/2020 | 11:34

Catalin Roman, Senior Associate, Employment & Pensions Practice Coordinator at Noerr, one of the speakers of Working Romania, was part of the first panel of the online event, titled The latest trends in the Future World of Work │ How do we prepare and how will we work in the NEW ENVIRONMENT?, during which he talked about the evolution of the local workforce market in the current context and the legal aspects of remote work, among other subjects.

 

Talking about adapting to the new context and how working in the professional services has changed in the past few months, Roman said that he didn’t felt this change too much. “We’re used to keep in touch with our clients by any means, including the tools of remote communication. From my perspective, as a labour law specialist and consultant, it’s business as usual.” There’s also a silver lining to be found, according to the Noerr representative: closing the technological gap between the older generations and generation Z. “From my point of view, we’re going through a time in which we all made a big leap forward, we are closing the technological gap between us and generation Z. From a digitalization perspective there’s no longer such a big difference between us and those younger than us.”

“As a labour law specialist, the only necessity I see during this time is to be able to find and apply the right solutions for our clients, in order to help them reach the next level, digitalizing working relations and improve the employer-employee trust level.” Said Roman, concluding his first intervention.

 

Teleworking

Roman’s main talking point was the subject of telework and the legal intricacies behind it. “Regarding telework, it was regulated as we know by the 81/2018 law. For implementing this type of activity, approval from both parties was required. Apart from telework, we also had the “work from home,” which requires an activity without the use of any tools of communicating at distance. Recently, since the State of Emergency was enforced, a presidential decree was issued (195/2020), which modified the implementation of telework. Agreement from both parties is no longer required, the employer is now able to decide this unilaterally.”

Despite being able to unilaterally adopt telework, employers still have responsibilities, Roman continues. “The decision must contain some essential clauses. I’m talking about health and safety issues, and the employer’s responsibility to inform the employee the way in which his activity will be monitored.”

“It is very important from a health and safety rules perspective, for the employer to continuously provide training and instructions to their employees, even through remote communication tools. On another topic, from the perspective of ReviSal, telework must be modified, meaning that the type of the labour contract must be changed to reflect the effects of telework.” The Noerr Senior Associate says.

Moving on to his second subject on his agenda, Roman talked about streamlining and introducing a greater flexibility regarding work hours. Regarding this, he says, there was a lot of talk about technical unemployment, but other solutions were somehow ignored. “Another measure, besides technical unemployment, was the reduction of the weekly working schedule from 5 to 4 days. But a measure like this must be also adapted to the current context, because maintaining such strict conditions to implement a more flexible working schedule doesn’t really aid employers too much. I would propose that in times of crisis, such as these, to give the employer the possibility to reduce the working schedules as he sees fit for the operation of the business, of course after consulting and informing the employees. Moreover, in the ReviSal software, which is not exactly optimized, reducing working schedules is not possible except by suspending the employment contract for one day. I have encountered situations in which employers would have liked to reduce daily working hours by 25%, but this is not possible due to the limitations of the software.”

From the same perspective, of a more flexible and individualized working schedule, in which an employee can come and go at different hours than the usual one by deferring the work hours, the Noerr representative says that this is the only available option so far. “In this context, from my point of view, it would be more useful for the employer to have the option to easily implement a more flexible work schedule according to economical needs or health and safety obligations.”

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