This year, companies in Romania will provide jobs for approximately 25.000 people outside the European Union and being familiar with the rights and obligations stated in the EU law when recruiting and hiring foreign non-EU workers is a must for Romanian employers.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection[1], a decision has been taken by the Romanian Government on the 30th of December 2020, establishing a quota of 25000 newly admitted foreign non-EU workers to the labour market for 2021.

Following the proposal of the Ministry of Labour in the draft project launched for public debate at the end of October 2020, Romanian employers expected a quota of 30000 non-EU workers in 2021, which is the number that has been approved previously for 2020. This expectation was based on the high number of job vacancies: an average of 6800 per month, most of it in the hospitality industry (both restaurants and hotels) and constructions.[2] Considering this number, it seems that Romanians who have returned home from other countries due to the context generated by the pandemic, but also those who have lost their jobs in the country for the same reason, are not willing to fill the vacant jobs.

Finding themselves in the situation where they need to fill vacancies, Romanian employers turn their attention to potential workers from outside the European Union, especially to those coming from Asia. Bringing staff from outside the EU involves different procedures, and the employers have to meet certain conditions.

By going through the following information, those interested can find details regarding the rights and obligations of employers towards non-EU foreign employees, along with useful advice that will help employers to offer non-EU staff good working conditions in Romania.

Terms of employment – Rights and responsibilities when hiring non-EU foreign workers

When it comes to the rights and obligations of the employer towards his employees, Romanian law does not differentiate between local and foreign workers. Thus, any foreign employee is treated the same as a Romanian one.

As per the context provided by Law 157/2011 for amending and completing normative acts regarding the foreigners’ regime in Romania, the foreign citizen is a person who does not have Romanian citizenship, the citizenship of another Member State of the European Union or of the European Economic Area (EEA) or the citizenship of the Swiss Confederation. This is an amendment brought to Article 2 of the Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) no. 194/2002.[3]

According to provisions of Article 40 of the Romanian Labour Code, the professional relationship between the Romanian employer and his employees implies certain rights and obligations.[4]

The employer shall have, mainly, the following rights:

  • to establish the organization and operation of the unit;
  • to establish the corresponding tasks to each employee, in accordance with the terms of the law;
  • to issue orders with a mandatory character for the employee, subject to their legality;
  • to exert control over the performance of the job-related tasks;
  • to assess the disciplinary offences and apply the corresponding penalties, according to the law, the applicable collective labour agreement and the rules of procedure;
  • to establish the individual performance objectives, as well as the criteria for evaluating it.

The employer shall have, mainly, the following obligations:

  • to inform the employees on the working conditions and on issues related to the employment relationships;
  • to permanently provide the technical and organizational conditions taken into account when preparing the work standards and the working conditions;
  • to grant to the employees all rights under the law, applicable collective labour agreement and individual employment contract;
  • to regularly notify the employees of the economic and financial situation of the organization, except for sensitive or classified information whose disclosure is likely to prejudice its activity;
  • to consult the trade union or, as appropriate, the representative of the employees on the decisions liable to substantially affect their rights and interests;
  • to pay all contributions and taxes due, and to retain and transfer the contributions and taxes owed by the employees, under the terms of the law;
  • to establish the general employee register and enter the data provided for in the law;
  • to issue, upon request, all documents stating the employee quality of the applicant;
  • to ensure the confidentiality of the employees’ personal data.

How can employers of non-EU workers provide a favourable working environment?

There are certain aspects that cannot be overlooked and should be taken into account by the employer in relation to his employees, especially when it comes to non-EU workers, who need help to adapt easier in Romania.

Considering the fact that these people choose to work in a foreign country – in most cases, a country with a completely different culture when compared to their country of origin, namely India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines – employers are advised to provide workers with a minimum of extra benefits. This approach will help them blend in. These benefits are related to accommodation, meals and transportation from the accommodation to the workplace. Such an approach can also benefit the employer, as employees who do not need to worry about finding their own accommodation or spending extra money on meals and transport will appreciate the help provided and will be more willing to give their best at work.

At the same time, taking into account the above-mentioned cultural differences and the fact that non-EU foreign workers often feel vulnerable, the employer is recommended to support the foreign workers’ effort to integrate in the Romanian society. To make this happen, employers can work together with NGOs and provide workshops aimed to facilitate the staff’s access to Romanian language courses. Employers can also facilitate access to health services.

Therefore, when recruiting and hiring foreign non-EU workers, the employer’s focus should not be exclusively on the legal provisions. The human side is equally important and ensuring that the staff has access to good living conditions and certain benefits is something that every employer should consider.