Employers make proposals for new national collective agreement
The Alliance of Employer Confederations in Romania has issued a set of proposals aimed at ensuring a more effective harmonisation between the Labour Code and the content of the forthcoming national collective agreement for 2007–2008. The proposals address, among other things, the issues of the non-competition clause, individual employment contracts, collective redundancy and working time.
The Alliance of Employer Confederations in Romania (Alianta Confederatiilor Patronale din România, ACPR) (RO0609039I) has submitted a list of 14 proposals in relation to collective bargaining for the new national collective work agreement for 2007–2008. The proposals, among other things, put forward recommendations on the issues of the non-competition clause, individual employment contracts, collective redundancies and working time. The set of proposals aim to ensure greater cohesion between the forthcoming national collective agreement and the new Labour Code (Codul Muncii).
The first proposal relates to the inclusion in the new national agreement of the non-competition clause, which is missing from the current agreement.
In compliance with the Labour Code, the non-competition clause has no legal effect unless it is stipulated in the individual contract of employment, and unless employer organisations propose to include a list of activities in the contract, prohibiting the employee from working in the respective areas following termination of the employment contract.
The clause is to have legal effect for a maximum of two years from the date of termination of the individual employment contract; in return, the employee is entitled to receive compensation of at least 50% of the average gross monthly wage earned over the six months prior to the date of job termination. This amount is treated as an expense deducted from the tax deductible profits of the employer.
Individual employment contracts
Four of the ACPR’s proposals concern individual employment contracts. Firstly, the employers recommend the inclusion in the collective agreement of the provision regarding the termination of employment contracts while employees are still in the trial period of a job, as stipulated in the Labour Code. Secondly, they propose the introduction of a new provision on the suspension of the individual employment contract for absence without leave. Thirdly, the employers recommend the addition of a new article in the collective agreement according to which: ‘the employee performance evaluation, applicable also in the case of dismissal on the grounds of professional incompetence, will be introduced in the sectoral and national collective agreements and company regulations.’
Furthermore, since the previous collective agreement did not include any provision with regard to fixed-term work contracts, the employers have also proposed the addition of an article stipulating that: ‘the individual employment contract may be concluded for a fixed period of time, that is, until a specified task or programme has been completed.’
The current Labour Code includes a provision according to which the employer is prohibited, for a period of nine months, from hiring new employees to fill the positions of workers who were made redundant. If during this period of time, the activities whose cessation had led to collective redundancy are resumed, the employer is obliged to send redundant employees written notification, requesting them to take back their jobs with no prior selection required. Within 10 working days, employees may express their consent or refusal. Employer organisations proposed the inclusion of these provisions through the adoption of a new article in the national collective work agreement.
In addition, in relation to collective redundancies, the new Labour Code stipulates that following consultation with the trade unions or employee representatives, the employer will notify the territorial employment agency and labour inspectorate of collective redundancies. A copy of the notification should be sent, on the same date, to the trade unions and employee representatives. Bearing in mind that in the previous collective agreement, the notice period was 45, 60 and 90 days respectively prior to the redundancy decision issue date, depending on the number of workers affected by the collective redundancy, the employers have requested the inclusion of this provision in the collective work agreement in alignment with the new Labour Code.
In relation to the issue of legally valid overtime, the employers propose increasing from 11 to 13 the number of sectors and activities for which the reference period taken as a basis for calculating the longer working day or week is three to 12 months; the additional sectors are the textiles, leather and clothing, and electricity sectors (RO0605019I). Payment for overtime would mean an additional 75% increment for regular working days and at least 100% for holidays, instead of the previous 50% increment added to the basic wage for overtime that exceeds 120 hours a year for each employee.
Moreover, according to the previous agreement, an employer could grant a maximum of 15 days’ leave without pay for a temporary interruption of work; the employers consider this as being illegal as it has not been stipulated in the Labour Code.
Other proposals of the employer organisations include the recommendation to eliminate from all company collective agreements the provision whereby employees, other than trade union members, must pay up to 0.3% of their monthly wage for collective bargaining. This, they argue, infringes on the right to freedom of association in trade unions and obliges trade union members to pay the respective contribution, as a condition of membership. Likewise, it has been pointed out that the tax deduction of the trade union membership contribution from employees’ wages is illegal and must be eliminated.
Finally, employers propose the inclusion of the new legal provisions on the setting up of the wage guarantee fund, along with the provisions on health and safety at work as stipulated under Law No. 319/2006.
Constantin Ciutacu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy