Telework in Romania
In Romania, no agreement on telework has been reached among the social partners to date, nor is there any official act defining telework. The proportion of e-workers is estimated at 0.5%–1% of the labour force but should double every three years, to reach 8%–10% of all workers in 2010. The government has given assurances that it would analyse the effects of new types of work organisation in order to see what measures need to be taken. The social partners are keen to use the 2002 European framework agreement on telework as a guideline.
Definition of telework
The social partners in Romania have not yet reached any agreement on telework, nor is there an official act to define telework. The only existing definition of telework is the one used by the National Institute of Statistics (Institutul Naţional de Statistică, INS) in its survey on the ‘Information society’ (Societatea informaţională), which was carried out in 2006 and 2007. According to this survey,
employed people performing telework are employees who work full time or part time in workplaces other than the premises of their enterprise, usually at home, using products and services from information and communication technology.
Prevalence of telework
To date, no official statistical data are available concerning the incidence of telework, the breakdown by sector or the development of telework at national level.
The Living Conditions Survey (Condiţiile de viaţă ale populaţiei din România, ACOVI), published by INS in 2006, gives a breakdown of workers according to their type of workplace. In 2005, people working at home accounted for 13.7% of total employment. In terms of age, the distribution of persons working at home is as follows: 16.4% of the 15–24 age group work at home, 8.8% of the 25–49 age group and 25.8% of workers aged 50 years and over. In the author’s opinion, it can be estimated that a significant proportion of those in the 15–24 age group working at home are teleworkers. Conversely, most of those in the 50 years and over age group are agricultural workers or small craftspeople.
In his 2001 ‘Worker’s guide’ (Ghidul lucrătorului) – published on the site of the Romanian Association for Telework and Teleactivities (Asociaţia Română pentru Telelucru şi Teleactivităţi, ARTT) – Nicolae Sfetcu refers to a study, carried out in 1998 by Adrian Toia, on the ‘Evaluation of potential teleworking sectors and the conditions to implement telework in Romania’ (Evaluarea domeniilor potenţiale şi a condiţiilor de aplicare a telework în România). According to this study, the potential number of teleworkers ranged between 16,500 and 56,000 individuals in 2000; these figures increased to between 33,400 and 90,300 teleworkers in 2005. By 2010, forecasts estimate that between 63,000 and 138,000 persons will be teleworking in Romania. In terms of active teleworkers, this could be up to 600 teleworkers in 2000, some 9,000 in 2005 and up to 69,000 by 2010.
In the 2005 European Commission report on Collaboration@Work. The 2005 report on new working environments and practices (4.87Mb PDF), Mr Toia highlights in the section on Romania that: ‘The estimation of potential e-workers is now about 0.5%–1% of the labour force, but it will double every three years reaching 8%–10% of the total labour force in 2010’ (p. 90). Based on this forecast, the number of potential e-workers can be estimated at about 40,000–80,000 such workers in 2005 and between 600,000 and 850,000 e-workers by 2010.
So far, Romania has not adopted any specific legislation regulating telework, nor did the social partners conclude any collective agreement covering this topic.
For this type of work, the applicable rules are those from the chapter on ‘Work at home’ of the current Labour Code. More specifically, Article 106 stipulates:
Employees working at home are those employees who accomplish at home the tasks specific to their jobs; they establish their work programme themselves, and the employer has the right to check on their activity, based on the conditions stipulated in the individual work contract. The individual work contract for those working at home is concluded in written form and contains the following: the clear specification that the employee works at home; the manner in which the employer has the right to monitor the activity, and the practical modalities for control.
Nonetheless, according to the report on the Implementation of the European framework agreement on telework (1.36Mb PDF), published by the European Social Partners and adopted by the Social Dialogue Committee in June 2006, ‘the joint implementation process has not yet started in Bulgaria and Romania but social partners in these countries are reflecting on how to join in the implementation process’ (p. 4). The social partners from Romania have expressed an interest in taking the framework agreement on telework as a guideline, but they have not yet started their work.
To date, no legal restrictions exist concerning telework in Romania.
Employment and working conditions
According to Article 107 of the Labour Code,
the employees working at home enjoy all the rights recognised by law and by collective agreements, applicable to employees working at the employers’ premises; although collective agreements can also establish other specific conditions concerning the work at home.
In other words, compared with other employees working at the employer’s premises, teleworkers should not experience different treatment, discrimination clauses or any specific regulations.
Romania’s Penal Code contains provisions regulating data protection and the right of privacy; these provisions are applicable in general, without differentiation in relation to socio-professional categories.
Views of social partners and government
In the context of current debates on implementing the EU strategy in relation to health and safety at work, the Minister of Labour, Social Solidarity and Family, Paul Păcuraru, assured that any legal rigidities contained in the Labour Code would be removed. In this respect, he mentioned that the employer should be responsible for the employee’s health and safety, irrespective of the workplace. Furthermore, Minister Păcuraru promised that the impact of information technology, which allows for working at home and at a distance – along with the new, more flexible types of work organisation – would be assessed in order to take the required policy measures.
The social partners have expressed the need for implementing telework regulations at the national level. However, no specific provisions regarding telework have been negotiated so far, neither in the collective agreement – unique at national level – nor in employment contracts or sectoral collective agreements.
Constantin Ciutacu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy