Romania: Regulating the professional status of nannies

Law no. 167/2014 on the professional status of nannies, which was adopted in December 2014, aims to improve the overall quality of childcare provided, to address the problem of insufficient childcare provision for parents, to result in a better work–life balance for parents, to increase the number of jobs in the field and to reduce the level of undeclared work among this category of domestic workers.

Introduction

Law 167/2014, published in the Romanian Official Journal on 18 December 2014, regulated the nanny profession for the first time in Romania. The new law was adopted following an initiative by 59 deputies and senators in the Romanian Parliament from all political parties.

As part of the implementation process, a public debate took place at the Human Rights Commission of the Romanian Parliament, attended by parliamentarians from all political organisations, civil society representatives, specialists in child protection and the Deputy Ombudsman. The social partners have not yet reacted publicly to the new law.

Objectives of the new law

The new law has two main objectives: to improve the quality of childcare and to cut down on the level of undeclared work among childcare  professionals.

Improving the quality of childcare

The first goal is to regulate the nanny profession so as to serve the interests of the child, especially in the context of the insufficient number of nurseries and kindergartens in Romania. Up to now, there have been no regulations requiring those who wish to become nannies to complete accredited specialised courses in this field.

It is hoped that the law will have an impact on the quality of childcare, ensuring that all those who offer childcare are professionally qualified and reducing the risk of sickness among children. Consequently, a number of principles are set out in the law which enshrine the rights of children and govern the general conduct of nannies in relation to their charges.

The regulation of the nanny profession is also presented as a solution for the proper care of children whose parents have left to work abroad. At the public debate at the Human Rights Commission it was reported that 79,901 children in this situation were recorded at the end of 2012 (in Romanian, 399 KB PDF).

Reducing the number of undeclared domestics

The second goal is to reduce undeclared work among domestic workers, which is perceived as a worrying problem by lawyers (Ștefănescu, 2014). Currently there are investigations being carried out into the employment of domestic workers without a written contract. Nannies are among domestic personnel who are not covered by general labour regulations and for which there is no efficient means of control by the Labour Inspectorates. Indeed, the means of control are limited or even lacking, as controls are considered to interfere with the right of privacy of the employee (Dimitriu, 2011). For instance, Article 5 of the law on labour health and safety no. 319/2006 defines the concept of ‘worker’ in a broad manner (beyond the threshold of the concept of ‘employee’), but expressly excludes those who perform domestic work.

A special category of domestic workers consists of those originating from non-EU countries, with industry sources estimating that up to 1,000 work in Romania (in Romanian). These are vulnerable both in their position as as unregistered domestic workers and as migrants, so they have double exposure to abuse and discrimination.

In addition, two International Labour Organization (ILO) measures – Domestic Workers Convention No. 189) and the Domestic Workers Recommendation (No. 201) – which aim to facilitate the regulation of contracts between domestic workers and their employers, have attracted particular attention in Romanian law and society.

Judicial regime governing nannies

The new law on the professional status of nannies is an attempt to regulate the situation for this special category of domestic workers. Under the law, the profession of nanny can be performed under an employment contract concluded between a nanny and a legal person, or under a civil contract concluded by a nanny as an authorised natural person, according to Governmental Emergency Ordinance no 44/2008. The legal liability of nannies depends on the type of employment contract they have. As a result, sanctions under the law for nannies who fail to carry out their duties range from disciplinary penalties and fines through to criminal or civil liability.

In the execution of their work, the nanny has the following responsibilities:

  • to take care of and look after the child;
  • to feed the child;
  • to provide first aid in case of sickness/injury of the child;
  • to inform the legal guardian of the child about the child’s progress;
  • to inform their employer immediately if special situations regarding the child arise;
  • to accompany the child in recreational, cultural, artistic, sports and educational activities that are appropriate for the child’s age, to help the child perform these activities, and to initiate educational activities with the child so as to develop the child’s independence and life skills.

These responsibilities are exercised according to an activities schedule mutually agreed with the child's legal guardian to meet the needs of the child and family.

According to the law, any natural person can work as a nanny if he or she:

  • is a Romanian citizen or a foreign citizen who has the right to work in Romania, residing usually in the same locality as the child; 
  • has a recognised qualification or equivalent for the profession of nanny;
  • has a full legal right to work in Romania;
  • has the physical ability to do this job (attested by a legal and valid medical certificate);
  • has the psychological ability to work (attested by a legal and valid evaluation report);
  • has no criminal record, except for acts performed out of gross negligence (reflected in the person’s criminal record).

The institutions in charge of controlling the quality of social services are responsible for checking that these requirements are fulfilled and that the nanny provides good quality of care when looking after the child.

According to the recital accompanying the new regulation (in Romanian, 399 KB PDF), it is expected that the new law will:

  • increase the number of jobs in the field of childcare and in looking after children through other regulated and monitored activities;
  • lead to a better reconciliation of family life with professional life in families that use these services.

References

Dimitriu, R. (2011), 'Respectul vieţii private a lucrătorului şi al demnităţii la locul de muncă' [Worker's privacy and dignity at work], Revista Română de Dreptul Muncii No. 7, pp. 36–45.

Ștefănescu, I.T. (2014) 'Reglementarea legală a muncii personalului casnic – un imperativ de actualitate certă' [Legal regulation of the work of domestic workers – an imperative of great contemporary significance], Dreptul, No. 12, p. 183.

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