Being an employer in any jurisdiction seems to become more complicated as time goes on. I was recently reminded of this when we were advising an international client of the Firm on employment issues in Romania.
The Client wished to be fully compliant with Romanian law and practice. As it plants and offices in other jurisdictions it was aware that there would be significant differences between working practices in its various plants in other countries and the working practices in Romania.
If you work in a jurisdiction such as Romania even the written form of the employment contract will be very different from that which you may be used to. Romania being based on a Code Law legal system means that the actual written employment contract can be very simple because the parties will rely on the law and the Romanian Labour Code to supply many details of the terms of employment. Despite this more and more employers are providing internal working regulations which go beyond the requirements of the Labour Code.
the first thing to remember about these regulations is that they must be brought to the attention of the employees. This can be done by having them on the employers web site accessible to the employees, having them fixed or displayed in the employees working area where they can be seen and read by the employees or by the employees actually signing that they have received a copy and read them. Clearly the latter is the best but in many cases employees make them available attached to a notice board to which the employees have access. The important thing is to be able to prove that the employees knew about the regulations and had time to read and accept them.
The Regulations need to be extensive and cover all those matters which a prudent employer wishes to draw to the employees attention and have their acceptance. If the employer is a UK based company or is a subsidiary of a UK company they also need to draw the employees attention to the provisions of the UK Bribery Act. If a US company attention must be given to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The Regulations should contain an explanation as to why the Regulations are being put in place. The provision of internal regulations is covered by Article 242 of the Romanian Labour Code which provides for this.
The Regulations should cover the rules concerning the principles of non-discrimination and the relationship not only between the employer and the employee but also between employee and employee. Discrimination on any basis are prohibited by the law and the constitution.
The Regulations can be used to expand the rights and obligations of the employer and the employee within the law. Matters concerning inventions and copyright are better included in a separate agreement between the employer and the individual employee. This is especially important in the fields of IT and pharmaceutical where an employee can be working in R & D which can have an important effect on the Employers current and future business.
Rules regarding work protection, hygiene and security need to be covered. Some companies provide regular medical examinations particularly of eyes in relation to IT employees and even make a financial contribution to the cost of glasses etc which are necessary in respect of the work being undertaken.
The Regulations should cover matters of labour discipline and misconduct and disciplinary sanctions. Romanian courts and the law are protective of the employee and it is therefore very important that all matters concerning this are properly covered and set out in the regulations. The procedure to be followed must comply with the law.
A Whistle Blowing policy and procedures also need to be set out as this will give employees comfort on the impartiality of the employer when dealing with such matters.
If the employers has a professional development and an evaluation policy this should be clearly set out. We have noticed more and more Romanian companies are doing this. They are beginning to see professional development and evaluation of an employee as an important way to maintain their staff. They have realised that the staff are a valuable asset in the company and which if taken care of will not only increase the value of the company but will make the company more efficient and therefore profitable. Investment in people is being seen as the next step in Romanian economy.
Many companies also have an ethical policy. If they do not have one then they should consider having one in place.
The Regulations should not be seen as a replacement for office procedure manuals but should be seen as ancillary to them. This is particularly important in respect of work practises.
As Romanian Law companies and businesses continue to expand there will be a growing need for all companies to put in place regulations and policies which allow for the employer and employees to have a good working relationship. We consider that a properly drafted set of Regulations and policies whilst being seen initially as an un-necessary expense will be the grounds for a successful basis for working relationship. Employers should carefully think about the regulations for their company and ensure that they are drafted so as to fit their particular requirements. A one size fits all policy will cause problems in the future.