Telework and work from home. News and challenges in the context of COVID-19

On November 6, 2020, two normative acts were published in the Official Gazette, Part I, no. 1042, with important implications for employers, respectively:

  1. The Government Decision no. 935/2020 on the amendment and completion of annexes no. 2 and 3 to the Government Decision no. 856/2020 on the extension of the status of alert on Romanian territory, starting with October 15, 2020, as well as the establishment of the measures applied during it to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (hereinafter the “G.D. no. 935/2020”);
  2. The Government Emergency Ordinance no. 192/2020 (hereinafter the “G.E.O. no. 192/2020”), which has as object the amendment and completion of the Law no. 55/2020 on some measures for preventing and combating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as of the Law no. 81/2018 regarding the teleworking activity (hereinafter the "Law no. 81/2018").

In terms of labor relations, these two normative acts bring a series of changes concerning work from home and telework, as follows:

  • Employers' obligation to organize the work under the teleworking of work from home regime during the alert state

Art. I pt. 10 of G.D. no. 935/2020 establishes the obligation of employers, with a number of more than 50 employees, to organize the work under the teleworking or work from home regime, in accordance with the law.

Alternatively, to the extent that the employees are unable to work under teleworking or work from home regime, employers will set up individualized work schedules so that the working hours begin and end at intervals of at least one hour.

These provisions are repeated in art. I pt. 2 and 3 of the G.E.O. no. 192/2020(mention should be made that in this normative act the number of employees is no longer specified as a premise for the implementation of work from home or telework).

BA Note 1: From a procedural point of view, it will be necessary to conclude addenda to the employment agreements, including the mandatory elements provided by the law, at least one day prior to the implementation of these changes. Also, these changes will be registered to REVISAL, at the latest one day prior to their entry into force.

Mention should be made that the Labor Inspectorate has published a Guide for the implementation of these normative acts, in which they mentioned the possibility for the employers to issue unilateral decisions for carrying out the activity under the teleworking or work from home regime. The steps to be followed in order to register these changes in REVISAL are also detailed in this Guide. The Guide can be accessed at: 

BA Note 2: The individualized work schedules may be established without the consent of the employees, the latter only being informed of the applicable work schedule.

  • Employers' specific obligations regarding the teleworkers’ occupational health and safety

Art. II of the G.E.O. no. 192/2020 regulates the amendment of art. 7 of the Law no. 81/2018. Thus, in the light of this article, the rule is that the employer is obliged to provide the means related to information and communication technology and / or secure work equipment necessary for the performance of work, unless the parties agree otherwise. The novelty brought by the G.E.O. no. 192/2020 consists in the fact that: (i) it is specified that the parties’ agreement will have to be concluded in writing (rule that was also valid prior to this amendment); (ii) it is specified that even in the case of the teleworker's use of his own devices, the employer is obliged to insert in the addendum the conditions of their use. 

BA Note: The amendment brought by G.E.O. no. 192/2020 can prove to be useful for both employers and employees, reducing the risk of workplace accidents and protecting personal data.