The Romanian Government has decided to supplement the quota for newly admitted foreign employees to the labour market with another 25.000. Therefore, the quota initially approved at the end of 2020 has doubled: in 2021, 50.000 foreign workers can receive work permits and fill vacancies in various sectors of activities in Romania. [1]

Foreign workers could help alleviate the Romanian workforce crisis

According to information in the local media (Evenimentul Zilei), Romania is in need of approximately 3 million employees by 2025, the highest demand being in the constructions sector (285.000 employees), followed by health and pharmaceuticals (118.000), as well as automotive. [2] Out of the 3 million vacancies, 1.3 million jobs are to be filled by employees holding a university degree, while 1.05 million vacancies are targeting undergraduates.

The statistics regarding the Romanian labour market are extremely relevant in showing how some sectors are much more affected than others in 2021. At the beginning of August, the National Employment Agency (ANOFM), which is Romania’s public employment office, announced the availability of 22.058 jobs, based on data acquired from economic agents across the country. However, in September, the largest recruitment online platform in Romania, eJobs, announced that 103.000 jobs are vacant in the country, and 31.000 abroad.[3]

Given these conditions, it is understandable why the Romanian authorities are interested in increasing the quota of newly admitted foreign employees to the labour market. This increase responds to the need of strengthening labour force in sectors where it cannot be covered by Romanian workers, while also being an attempt in preventing illegal work (employers hiring foreigners who do not have the right to work in Romania).

The Romanian workforce crisis is far from being over, especially since statistics show that almost 200.000 Romanians are leaving the country yearly.[4]

What are the categories of foreign workers that can be employed in Romania?

According to the Romanian law, the foreign citizen is defined as a person who does not have Romanian citizenship, the citizenship of another member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area or the citizenship of the Swiss Confederation.[5] As per the Ministry of Labour[6] and Social Protection and according to Article 2, paragraph (1) of GO 25/2014 regarding the employment and secondment of foreigners on the Romanian territory, the employer can choose the profile of the employee that best fits his needs, from the following options:

  • permanent worker – the foreigner employed on the Romanian territory with an individual employment contract for an undetermined or fixed period;
  • trainee worker – the foreigner employed on the Romanian territory based on the work permit, holder of a higher education diploma or pursuing a form of higher education in a third state, who participates on the territory of Romania in an internship program, for a specific time, in order to either improve the professional training, to obtain a professional qualification or to improve the linguistic and cultural knowledge;
  • au pair worker – the foreigner temporarily employed by a host family in order to improve his language knowledge and skills, in exchange for light housework and childcare activities;
  • seasonal worker – the foreigner employed in Romania with an individual fixed-term employment contract in order to perform an activity that takes place according to the stringing of the seasons;
  • cross-border worker – the foreigner, citizen of a state that has a common border with Romania and who lives in the border area of ​​that state, employed in a border locality on the Romanian territory with an individual employment contract of undetermined or fixed duration;
  • highly qualified worker;
  • deployed worker – the foreigner temporarily detached from the company established in a third state;
  • ICT worker – the foreigner transferred within the same company, who lives in a third state at the date of submission of the application for the posting permit;
  • special qualification staff – university professors, researchers and scientists who conduct academic activity in Romania.

Foreign workers currently employed in Romania and future prospects

Currently, the data shows that approximately 55.000 foreign workers are employed in Romania[7]: 14.000 coming from the EU, Southeast Europe and Switzerland, and the rest coming from outside the European continent. Most of them are Turkish (7.500), followed by citizens of the Republic of Moldova (4.800) and Vietnamese people (4.700).

From the beginning of 2021 until the end of July, 17.196 work permits were issued, making up 68.7% of the established quota.

As per the labour sectors targeted by foreign workers, most of them are interested in the construction sector, followed by restaurants and freight transportation.

The process of employing foreign workers in Romania consists of four steps: obtaining approval from the Romanian Immigration Office, applying for a long-stay visa for employment purposes, acquiring the single permit certifying the right to stay in Romania, and the issuance of a work or posting permit.

As a conclusion, it is safe to say that doubling the quota for newly admitted foreign employees to the labour market in Romania in 2021 is a measure taken by the Government in the attempt to cover the workforce deficit.