Tiberiu Csaki, Dentons Partner, featured in a powerful panel titled Shaping a brighter world of work ∣ Powered by Orange at BR’s recent Working Romania HR Conference. The essence of his interventions during the event, including subjects such as Kurzarbeit, the 4 day work-week, teleoworking, and more, was summarized by Tiberiu Csaki in this post event follow-up article.
What employers could have done in the context the pandemic in relation to their employees?
Despite moderate optimism regarding the effects of the mass vaccination in 2021, the pandemic is still present, further impacting the businesses, and employers face similar challenges as in 2020.
The difference, however, is that employers have learned from the 2020 experience and seem to have in place a more consistent approach in dealing with their work force.
Although the unpredictability of the economic landscape remains the main challenge, employers seem to get used to live with it and be less inclined to resort to redundancies and closure of business, total or partial, as a first alternative, unless there is no other option left.
Instead, based on the labor legislation specifically applicable during the state of alert, the employers may implement flexible working alternatives in relation to their employees, mainly including the teleworking and the “Kurzarbeit”, that help the employers to reduce their working force costs while keeping their employees.
The teleworking is the most used flexible working alternative and seem to have been well accepted by the employees.
Nevertheless, working remotely, apart from its benefits for both the employer and the employee, also involves certain challenges, such as the lack of physical interaction with colleagues and long and numerous conference and video calls.
Intensive conference and video calls in the context of working remotely may at some point become a source of excessive stress for the employees, and we noticed that some employers are trying to limit the conference and video calls or even set Friday-offs, without remote meetings.
Does teleworking makes employees more efficient? The thin line between work and home?
So far, on a medium term, it looks that working remotely from home improves the efficiency of the employees.
The reasons for this would include a better focus and more efficient time management, in the absence of distracting and time-consuming factors, such as coffee/smoking breaks, long lunches (in or out of the office), surrounding street and office noise, as well as the travel time to and from work.
Working remotely also seem to render the employees more motivated and to increase their level of responsibility.
However, on a longer term, by spending all working hours at same place, without the physical interaction with the co-workers, teleworking may end up in increasing the feeling of social isolation and result in anxiety and increased stress for the employees.
To cope with this, more and more employers offer their employees online wellbeing and mindfulness sessions, as well as psychological counseling, and all these seem to show positive results.
Ultimately, the return to the normal working conditions depends entirely on the evolution of the pandemic, and in the current situation teleworking seem the most reasonable compromise between health protection and business priorities.
Quo vadis 2021 – likely trends and predictions?
Having to face the third pandemic wave and with extended lockdowns, employers seem at this point overall cautious on their 2021 plans.
The priority of the employers remains to keep their businesses up and running, while keeping at same time their employees safe and able to work.
At same time though, some employers are taking steps to prepare the return of their employees to the normal working conditions, although is really difficult predict when they may expect this to happen.
Support measures of the state – what employers may expect?
Since institution of the state of emergency followed by the state of alert, some measures aimed to support the employers and the employees throughout this period were enacted.
Although these measures were supposed to have a positive impact, in some cases their implementation in practice delayed and complicated the process.
- The allowance from the state for the “Kurzarbeit” or the technical unemployment are to be paid first by the employer and afterwards the employer is reimbursed by the state – the reimbursement process is bureaucratic and time consuming and this impacts negatively the financial resources of the employer;
- The tax/social security contributions incentives granted to employers and employees in connection with the 400 RON per month allowance awarded to employees engaged in teleworking – there is still insufficient clarity as far as the corporate tax deductibility is concerned.
Given that the impact of the pandemic on the businesses is immediate, employers would expect that the support measures be ready to be implemented as promptly as possible, in order to effectively and timely benefit from them.