In order to ensure adequate protection, even after the end of the state of emergency, for the purpose of preventing the risk of infection with SARS - CoV-2, several normative acts have been adopted to establish the legal framework for the transition from a period subject to numerous restrictions to a situation of normality.
In this respect, the National Council for Emergency Situations issued its Decision no. 24/2020 to approve the implementation of the nationwide state of alert and the measures for the prevention and control of infections (“Decision 24/2020”), published in the Official Gazette No. 395 of 15 May 2020. Under this Decision, the National Council for Emergency Situations declared the state of alert beginning 15 May 2020 for a period of 30 days.
Subsequently, Decision 24/2020 was repealed by Government Decision No. 394/2020 proclaiming the the state of alert and the measures applied during such period to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (“GD 394/2020”), published in the Official Gazette No. 410 of 18 May 2020.
By adopting GD 394/2020, the state of alert was implemented for a period of 30 days starting 18 May 2020 (i.e. until 16 June 2020 inclusive).
In order to regulate the necessary measures, the following were also adopted during the state of alert:
• Emergency Ordinance No. 70/2020 regulating some measures, starting 15 May 2020, in the context of the epidemiological situation determined by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, for the extension of some deadlines, for the amendment and completion of Law No. 227/2015 on the Fiscal Code, of the National Education Law No. 1/2011, as well as other normative acts (“GEO 70/2020”)
• Law No. 55/2020 on some measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (“Law 55/2020”) in force starting 18 May 2020.
• Order No. 3577/831/2020 on measures to prevent contamination with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and to ensure safe and health at the place of work during the state of alert (“Order 3577/831/2020”).
• Order No. 1731/832/2020 on measures to prevent contamination with the new SARS CoV-2 coronavirus and to ensure health safety in economic activities during the state of alert (“Order 1731/832/2020”).
This set of normative acts lays down new specific measures in the current context of the state of alert, so that employers can ensure an optimal framework for the protection of employees against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Rule on the Implementation of Telework or Home-Based Work
During the state of alert, employers may order, with the employees’ consent:
• that the activity be carried out as telework or home-based work;
• the change of the place of work;
• the change of the employees’ duties.
Main Preventive Measures Against the Spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus
The following main preventive measures need to be considered in the course of employment relationships during the state of alert:
• private economic operators with more than 50 employees are required to establish individualized work schedules, without the employee’s consent, so that one hour at the beginning and at the end of the work schedule is ensured between employees, within a time frame of three hours, in tranches of at least 20% of the staff, without thereby affecting the duration of the normal working hours, if the employees work in the same workspace;
Individualized schedules also concern workspaces with more than 50 employees, regardless of whether the employees are employed by different employers.
According to the normative act, the individualized work schedule and its distribution per days shall be stated in addenda to the employment agreements. However, we notice a discrepancy between the first paragraph stipulating the unilateral right of decision of the employer regarding the individualized schedules and the second paragraph, which imposes addenda that absolutely involve the employee’s consent.
• the wearing of a protective mask is mandatory in enclosed public spaces, commercial spaces, public transportation and at work;
• economic operators and professionals are required to organise their activity so as to ensure epidemiological triage and mandatory disinfection of hands at the entrance of their headquarters, both for their staff and for visitors;
Note: For their staff, the epidemiological triage consists in measuring the temperature using a non-contact thermometer, and for visitors the triage is performed by measuring the temperature.
• economic operators are required to comply with the prevention rules in case of carrying out work activities in open-space offices;
• the declaration, initiation or development of collective labour disputes in the national energy system, operative units of the nuclear sectors, institutions with continuous fire, sanitary and social assistance institutions, telecommunications, public radio and television, rail transports, institutions that ensure the public transport and the sanitation of cities, as well as the supply of gas, electricity, heat and water to the population, are prohibited.
Below are examples of other relevant obligations incumbent on the employers during the state of alert:
• to perform OSH training considering the risks of SARS-Cov-2 infection for all employees who were not present at the workplace organised by the employer during the state of emergency;
• to perform the assessment of the risk of epidemiological contamination according to the specifics of the activity carried out and the actual elements at the workplace;
• to update the risk assessment document, in terms of the OSH, in relation to the new conditions for carrying out the activity;
• to identify and implement the necessary measures for the resumption/maintenance of the activity in compliance with the measures to prevent the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus;
• to review their internal OSH protection plan and instructions and communicate them to employees;
• to display at the entrance and in the places with the highest visibility the rules of mandatory conduct for the prevention of SARS-Cov-2 infection applicable to employees/persons who have access to the premises;
• to ensure the ventilation of offices at least once a day;
• to place disinfectant dispensers at the entrance and in each work area;
• to appoint a person in charge with checking the temperature of all persons entering the premises;
• to ensure the observational triage of employees by checking the temperature at the beginning of the working hours and whenever necessary;
• to deny access into the premises to persons with specific symptoms of SARS-Cov-2 infection;
• lunch breaks are granted in stages, ensuring a distance of 1.5 m between employees;
• AVOID the use of the air conditioning system and, if this is not possible, ensure its nebulisation and disinfection outside the working hours (nebulisation is recommended once a week, preferably at the end of the week);
• to provide soap and disinfectant, without any interruption, and display posters with the correct way of washing the hands;
• to disinfect railings, doorknobs and window handles inside the premises, as well as other heavily used areas (at least once a week and as often as necessary);
• to disinfect at least once a week and whenever necessary common areas and workspaces with substances approved for the control of SARS CoV-2 (for open space premises it is recommended to disinfect the work surfaces at the beginning of the working hours and once every 4 hours thereafter);
• to arrange the work space so as to ensure the distance between employees (for open space premises it is recommended to ensure a distance of at least 1.5 m between employees working in front-to-back and back-to-back offices, and it is recommended to separate face-to-face offices by screens that will be disinfected daily);
• travels outside the workplace are limited to absolutely necessary situations;
• documents shall be mainly circulated by electronic means.
Procedure in case an Employee is a Suspected/Confirmed Case of SARS CoV-2 Coronavirus Infection:
In this case, the employer shall apply the following measures:
- employees with respiratory symptoms (cough, sneezing, rhinorrhea, etc.) and/or fever higher than 37.3 C° and/or altered general condition, which appears during the working hours, shall be immediately isolated from the rest of the colleagues and sent home or at health institutions, depending on the person’s condition;
Note: In most cases is not necessary to close the offices/building.
- if the suspect/confirmed employee or person was on the premises less than 7 days before the discovery of the case:
• close all the rooms in which he/she spent a long time (over 20 minutes);
• before the end of the working hours, mechanically ventilate the room (open the windows);
• in order to limit cleaning personnel’s exposure to respiratory particles, cleaning and disinfection shall be postponed for 24 hours. If it is not possible to observe this interval, the cleaning will be postponed as long as possible;
- if the suspect/confirmed employee or person was on the premises more than 7 days before the discovery of the case:
• no additional cleaning/disinfection is required;
• routine cleaning and disinfection measures are maintained;
- inform the persons with whom the suspect/confirmed employee/person came in prolonged contact (more than 20 minutes, at a distance of less than 1.5 m and without mask) such persons are required to isolate at home for 14 days.
Extension of Furlough Pay
Furlough pay for employees and non-employees (e.g. lawyers, other professionals, persons whose income is exclusively from copyrights, etc.) shall also be granted for the period between the end date of the state of emergency and 31 May 2020. It might be granted after this date (but not later than 31 December 2020), but only for areas where restrictions are maintained.
Note: These allowances are not subject to enforcement by seizure.
Period for using the E-mail
E-mail shall be used as one of the means of communication for the request and granting of the social assistance rights, state social insurance and unemployment rights, also after the end of the state of emergency, for a period of 30 days.
Relevant Measures Applicable to the Unemployment Insurance System
By exception from the provisions of Law No. 76/2002 on the unemployment insurance system, the period of suspension of employment relations pursuant to Article 52 (1) (c) of the Labour Code (furlough), during the state of emergency and the state of alert, shall be taken into account when establishing the contribution period of at least 12 months in the last 24 months prior to the date of registration of the unemployment benefit application.
The period of the state of emergency and the period of the state of alert in which the individual employment agreements are suspended for furlough pay, for which the employers do not owe the work insurance contribution according to the provisions of Article 2205 of the Tax Code, is a contribution period assimilated to the unemployment insurance system.
To establish and calculate the unemployment indemnity provided under Law No. 76/2002, the allowance consisting of 75% of the basic salary corresponding to the job, but not more than 75% of the average gross salary, shall be used.
Extension of Validity of Collective Bargaining Contracts and Collective Agreements
The validity of collective bargaining contracts and collective agreements is extended during the state of alert, as well as for a period of 90 days from its termination.
In the case of such collective contracts and agreements whose term expires during the state of alert, the parties are required to initiate collective bargaining within 45 days as from the termination of the state of alert.
Number of Paid Days Off according to Law 19/2020
For 2020, the number of paid days off for one of the parents is established until the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, in accordance with the law, and the settlement procedure set out in Government Decision No. 217/2020 shall apply. Thus, the legal provisions of Law No. 19/2020 shall apply during the state of alert, until the end of the academic year.