Romania: Vacation vouchers for public sector employees
Vacation vouchers, which public sector employees had been expected to get in 2014, will now be available from 2015. The vouchers can be used to purchase domestic holidays worth up to RON 5,400 per fiscal year (€1,219 as at December 3, 2014). The social partners see these vouchers as useful in developing Romanian tourism.
Vacation vouchers have been provided for in law in Romania since 2009. However, they have not yet been granted to public employees, as successive annual budgets have not allocated funding for them to public institutions and authorities. The first ones will be issued from 1 January 2015, to be used at Romania’s tourist attractions.
Vacation vouchers are currently regulated by:
- Law no. 94/2014 (published in the Romanian Official Journal No. 496, from 3 July 2014), approving Government Emergency Ordinance No. 8/2009 on granting vacation vouchers;
- Government Ordinance No. 8/2014, amending certain terms set out in the Government Emergency Ordinance No. 8/2009 (published in the Romanian Official Journal No. 585, from 5 August 2014).
Vacation vouchers will be awarded to public employees within the limits of the budget of the individual institution they work for. Government Ordinance No. 8/2014 provides for the vouchers to be issued online only, as of January 1, 2015.
The maximum value of vacation vouchers that can be granted in one fiscal year is RON 5,400 (€1,219), equivalent to six basic minimum gross salaries, currently RON 900 (€203).
Services purchased with vouchers are authorised by the National Tourism Authority, which also issues the vouchers.
Vouchers are liable for income tax, and come in nominal values of RON 10 (€2.25), 20 (€5), 30 (€7.50), 40 (€10) and 50 (€12.50)
Removal of holiday bonuses
Employees receiving holiday vouchers will not receive holiday bonuses during the same fiscal year, as set out by Law No. 263/2010 on the unified public pension system (with subsequent amendments).
Public bodies are allowed to give their employees bonuses, at the beginning of their annual leave, only in the form of vacation vouchers. The vouchers cannot be combined with any other cash bonuses for annual leave.
According to the law, only companies that provide tourist accommodation or that are licensed travel agents can be ‘affiliated units’. These are companies authorised by the National Tourism Authority to handle the vouchers (as set out by Government Ordinance No. 58/1998 on the organisation of tourism activity in Romania, approved with amendments and completions by Law No. 755/2001). Travel agencies cannot charge more than 10% commission on packages sold to people using vacation vouchers. No change from them can be given in cash.
Any public sector worker is eligible for vacation vouchers; they are not issued for performance but they might be limited by a particular institution’s budget.
Anyone not authorised to pay with vouchers, but attempting to do so, can be fined between RON 1,000 – RON 5,000 (€225– €1,125).
Any affiliated units that accept vouchers for services that do not meet the minimum standards of the service package face fines of between RON 1,000 –RON 10,000 (€225–€2,250), and the withdrawal of their tourism licence.
Affiliated units who give change in cash from a payment of vacation vouchers face fines of between RON 5,000 – RON 10,000 (€1,125–€2,250).
Affiliated units cannot sell package holidays that differ from those available to other clients; otherwise, they face fines of between RON 5,000 and RON 10,000 (€1,125–€2,250) and the loss of their status as an affiliated unit.
Opinions of the social partners
Unions have welcomed the new regulation in principle but the government and unions agreed to delay the issue of the vouchers until January 2015 because, when the law was due to come into force in 2014, many entitled employees in Romania had already received cash benefits for their holidays. Making the remaining workers take their bonuses in vouchers would have been discriminatory, according to Dumitru Costin, President of the National Union Bloc (BNS).
The only employers who have expressed a view on this subject are those in tourism, who would have liked the vouchers issued on schedule in 2014 to boost the autumn tourist trade.