Measures adopted by the Romanian Government within the current economic context

The Decree of the President of Romania no. 195 / 16.03.2020 regarding the establishment of the state of emergency on the territory of Romania followed the legislative process and on March 19, 2020 it has been unanimously adopted by the Romanian Parliament.

In this respect, we hereby remind the fact that starting with March 16, 2020, the state of emergency has been established on the entire territory of Romania for a period of 30 days, with the possibility for the President of Romania to extend the duration of the state of emergency and to extend or restrain its application area for successive periods of 30 days, depending on the evolution of the situations of danger and based on the Parliament consent.

With significant impact on the entire economic and social system strongly imbalanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Decree of the President of Romania regarding the establishment of the state of emergency on the territory of Romania also regulated the necessity to prepare and implement immediate measures to support the economic operators acting in the fields affected by COVID-19. Thus, following the meeting on March 18, 2020, the Government of Romania has adopted a series of measures aimed at supporting the economy, creating a criminal framework adapted to the current situation and offering social protection in the field of labor relations.

The adopted solutions package will be transposed in the national legislation through a series of specific normative acts that are the subject of publication in the Official Gazette.

In order to provide information on the measures thus adopted, we will briefly present in the following, the main concerned areas of interest as well as a series of relevant measures from the perspective of the effects they produce:

Economic field: The measures envisaged by the Romanian Government are planning to support SMEs that had their activity affected in the context of COVID-19 and that obtained from the Ministry of Economy, Energy and the Business Environment an emergency situation certificate. In this regard, the Romanian Government has proposed the following facilities for those SMEs, facilities that will be materialized in an emergency ordinance:

  • investments or working capital financings, will be guaranteed by the State, through the Ministry of Public Finance, up to a maximum 80% of their value, excluding interest, commissions and bank charges related to the secured credit;
  • in case of micro or small businesses, guarantees will be granted for credits/lines of credit for working capital financings up to a maximum 90%, excluding interest, commissions and bank charges related to the secured credit by the State;
  • the interests for the credits to be secured, both the credits  contracted by the micro businesses, and the ones contracted by the SMEs will be subsidized up to 100% by the Ministry of Public Finance; This facility will be applied from the moment the credit is contracted and until 31 March 2021, with a possibility of being maintained during 2021-202, in certain conditions established by the emergency ordinance;
  • deferred payment for utility services such as electricity, natural gas, water, telephone and internet services and also deferred payment for rent due for the headquarter of an SMEs or for their  secondary offices.

The following limitations apply to the facilities mentioned above:

  • in case of the financings guaranteed in a percentage of 80% of their value, the maximum value of the credits/ lines of credits for the working capital financing granted to a beneficiary cannot exceed the average of the expenses related to the working capital of the last two fiscal years, within the limit of 5 million lei. In what concerns the investment credits, the maximum value of the financing is 10 million lei. Moreover, the aggregate maximum value of the financings guaranteed by the State that can be granted to a beneficiary as per these facilities is 10 million lei;
  • in wat concerns micro and small businesses, that maximal value of the financings will be of 500,000 lei for microenterprises and of 1 million lei for small businesses. Also, the maximum value of each financing granted to a beneficiary cannot exceed the average of the expenses related to the working capital of the last two fiscal years, within the limits provided above;
  • the guarantee period for the credits/lines of credit for the working capital will be 36 months, with a possibility of being extended with another 36 months. For the investment’s credits, the 120-months period was maintained.

Another measure provided by the Government to support the economy is the suspension or non-commencement of foreclosure measures by garnishment of individuals, except for foreclosures for the recovery of budgetary claims established by criminal judicial decisions. These measures to suspend the foreclosure measures by garnishment will be applied, through the effect of the law, by the credit institutions or seized third parties, without any other formalities from the fiscal bodies.

Employment relations and social protection field: A series of measures in the field of employment relations and social protection will be implemented through the adoption of emergency ordinances and government decisions, pointed out in the following in accordance with the first official communications in this field.

In the field of technical unemployment, during the state of emergency, for the period of temporary suspension of the individual employment contract at the initiative of the employer as a result of the effects produced by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the allowances for the employees are at least 75% of the basic salary corresponding to the occupied job. The allowances are paid from the salary fund and are borne by the unemployment insurance budget, without exceeding 75% of the average gross earnings provided by Law no. 6/2020 regarding the budget of the state social insurances for 2020.

Those employers benefitting from the aforementioned measures have the obligation to maintain the employment relation of the concerned persons for a period of at least 6 months as of the restarting of the activity after the suspension of employment relations.

In order to grant the necessary amounts for the payment of the aforementioned allowance, the employers will submit with the employment Bucharest or county agencies, where they established their headquarters, a series of documents including, among others, the certificate of emergency situation issued by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment as well as the list of persons benefitting from such allowance. The reimbursement from the unemployment insurance budget of the amounts paid as allowance shall be made within maximum 30 days as of the submission of the documents.

In the field granting the insertion incentive and the support allowance stipulated by the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2010 regarding the leave and the allowance for raising children, the Government has established that such rights will not cease in case the parent, following the implementation of the measures generated by the state of emergency, is in situations of suspension or even termination of the employment or service relation by restructuring or restraining of the employer`s activity. In such case, the rights will be granted for a period of 90 days, afterwards the situation being reanalyzed and corresponding legal provisions being applied. 

In the field of granting paid leave days for parents supervising their children up to 12 years, in case of suspension of courses or temporary closure of educational units, the Government establishes that the working days until the end of the emergency situation, except for the days during the school holidays, to be paid leave days granted upon the request of one parent if the other parent does not benefit from similar paid leave days, or vacation leave or unpaid leave. The paid leave days are granted only after all the options provided by the legal regulations in force for the activity are terminated and with the obligation to ensure the continuity of the activity, including by deferring the work schedule or implementing flexible working forms.

The persons in technical unemployment or on childcare leave, as well as the employees whose spouse do not register income, are not entitled to benefit from the pad leave days.

As regards the payment manner of the paid leave days granted to the parents, it has been established that for each paid leave day, the employer will pay to the parent an allowance of 75% of the salary corresponding to a working day, without exceeding the correspondent per day of 75% of the average gross earnings used to substantiate the budget of the state social insurances. The allowance is assimilated to the income from salaries and is subject to taxation and payment of contributions, according to the Fiscal Code.

Criminal field: The Government has also adopted through emergency ordinance the first measures in the criminal field, meant to discourage and sanction those who do not comply with the measures imposed by the authorities. According to the project published on the website of the Ministry of Justice and which is in course of being published in the Official Gazette, the changes are intended to increase the maximum punishment for certain criminal offences if they occur in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus, the maximum punishment for misrepresentation increases from 2 to 5 years imprisonment, if the deed is committed to hide the existence of a risk of infection with an infectious and contagious disease.

Also, the scope of the criminal offence regarding hindrance of disease combat is broadened. Thus, unlike the previous regulation, according to which the hindrance of disease combat was only incidental if it resulted in the spread of such a disease, the modified form sanctions the simple non-observance of the quarantine or hospitalization measures put in place, even if the deed did not lead to the spread of the disease. Moreover, depending on the deeds committed and the consequences produced by them, the punishment limits for hindrance of disease combat are increased, from 2 years to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment.

Nevertheless, a new criminal offence has been introduced, concerning the omission to provide information to the medical staff or to the authorities with respect to the possibility of having come in contact with a person with an infectious and contagious disease. The maximum punishment provided by the law for this criminal offence is 3 years imprisonment.

It is important to note that, according to the Criminal Code, the applicable law is the law from the moment the crime is committed. Thus, the new increased limits of the penalties will apply to the persons who commit these crimes after the legal changes will enter into force.