Romania: EWCO CAR on "Recent Developments in Work Organisation in the EU 27 Member States and Norway"

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Work organisation,
  • Working conditions,
  • Published on: 28 June 2012

Luminita Chivu

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The economic restructuring and the transition to a market economy that marked the past 20 years entailed major changes in the size and the internal organisation of companies, paralleled, for many of them, by a sometimes radical change of business scope. Despite the in-depth nature of the changes in work organisation, they have failed to capture the full attention of the various economic studies, surveys, or public debates. And, although the social partners always include in the bargained collective agreements provisions covering work organisation, there is no public record reflecting their formal opinion on such aspects of labour management.

NCs are kindly requested to answer to this questionnaire, which will be used as input for elaborating the CAR.

The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:

  • Mapping of existing main sources of information dealing with the issue of work organisation at national level and its relation with working conditions, innovation and productivity (around 300 words)

  • Identification of existing patterns of work organisation at national level and recent evolution in time (around 1,100 words)

  • Identification of associated effects of different forms of work organisation and work organisation-related items on working conditions (around 700 words)

  • Mapping of the positions of social partners with regard to the issue of changes in work organisation patterns (around 300 words)

Also, national contributions will be edited as “national contributions’ and published independently on the web.

Block 1: Existing main sources of information dealing with the issue of work organisation at national level and its relation with working conditions, innovation and productivity

  • Are there national statistical sources (censuses, special surveys, other surveys, etc) that analyse the issue of work organisation or are used for analysing the issue of work organisation in your country? If so, identify them and explain the way work organisation types are defined and asked in these surveys.

  • Are there any other main sources of information published after mid-2000s that may provide valuable information on the issue (i.e. ad-hoc studies, sectoral studies, administrative reports, articles, published case studies, etc). If so, identify them.

  • Have there been any innovations introduced/expected in the existing national statistical sources intended to take into account the issue of work organisation in your country?

From the information available to us, it appears that no national statistic surveys were published prior or after the year 2000, and no other research work was undertaken in Romania with regard to work organisation, the new options or schemes emerging along this line, or the relation with the working conditions, innovation and labour productivity issues.

Prior to 1989, when Romania had a centralised economy, a special structure was in place – the Central Institute for Management of Production (Institutul Central pentru Organizarea Producţiei, ICOP), where the focus was laid on organisation of work in manufacturing facilities.

The Institute laid down the work organisation standards for workshops, sections, factories, and complex industrial plants, and provided the personnel structure in respect of number and training levels, for the staffing of various types of offices (such as an accounting, wage records, work organisation and workload distribution office, etc.), or departments (that could be formed of one or several offices), or for a division, a workshop, or a manufacturing unit.

The economic restructuring undertaken during the transition period left work organisation on a side track. The main target was to privatise and reconfigure the products in order to keep the pace with the market demand, and save as many jobs as possible.

Since 2010, the Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development (SOPHRD), is providing finance from the European Social Fund (ESF), through the priority axis providing support to corporate businesses and employees seeking to develop their adaptability by means of innovative concepts for flexible work organisational patterns, including new working practices, and the improvement of working conditions.

Although none of these projects has been finalised, and therefore the results cannot yet be evaluated, we have reasons to believe that they will generate best practices, and will contribute to the transfer of such practices to other companies.

Block 2: Identify existing patterns of work organisation at national level and recent evolution in time

  • Describe existing patterns of work organisation at national aggregated level (according to existing used national definitions) and their associated characteristics per pattern, based on the existing information. Provide information on the (quantitative and qualitative) importance of the different forms of these work organisations in the national context. In order to reflect the workplace practices, NCs are also requested to provide information on different work organisation-related-items, based on the national Working Conditions surveys that stress the main changes that have taken place in the last 5-7 years (i.e. higher/lower presence of team work; higher/lower presence of autonomy at work; higher/lower presence of job rotation; higher/lower assistance from colleagues or hierarchy; higher/lower task complexity; higher/lower degree of learning, higher/lower problem solving capacity, etc), stressing existing differences by sectors and enterprise sizes, and identifying the main reasons behind these changes.

  • Identify (if possible), the recent evolution in time of work organisation patterns in your country (last 5-7 years). Pay special attention to the effects derived from the current economic crisis.

  • Identify existing differences in work organisation patterns accordingly to sector and company size considerations, as well as (if possible) recent changes in these patterns.

  • Identify work organisation patterns associated with high performance working environments/enterprises.

  • Identify the main drivers for change or barriers to change underpinning these recent developments in work organisation in the country, paying special attention to the effects derived from the current economic crisis.

  • Partners are requested to identify one/the most dynamic national economic sector in terms of work organisation changes and for whom information is available. For this selected economic sector, NCs are requested to provide information on existing predominant work organisation patterns in this sector, as well as recent trends and changes in the last 5-7 years and reasons behind these changes. Also, and in the case the selected economic sector is a non-tertiary one, NCs are requested to provide some general information on recent trends and changes in work organisation patterns in the last 5-7 years and reasons behind these changes in any tertiary sector selected by each NC (i.e. consultancy services, HORECA, consultancy services, call centres, etc).

The restructuring processes incepted in 1990, thoroughly changed the internal configuration of business ventures. Many of the former companies went into dissolution or changed their scope of business; the number of employees in the national economy decreased from 8.1 million workers in 1990 to approximately 4.3 million in 2010.

The drastic reduction of the number of workers in companies made it pointless for most of them to keep the offices or departments dealing with work organisation and workload standards and rating.

For a first picture of the magnitude and consequences caused by such economic restructuring, the figures below regarding the number of companies and their average size speak for themselves.

In 1989, when the national economy of Romania was centralised and state-owned, there were around 5,000 industrial farms, some 2,100 industry companies, and approximately 190,000 service providers, which, in the aggregate, meant circa 197,000 active enterprises.

Of the 2,100 industry companies, only 6.7% of them were manned by up to 200 employees; 49% of the manufacturing companies employed up to 1,000 workers, and 51% had more than 1,000 employees.

In 2009, Romania had, on record, over 541,000 active enterprises, and 307,000 private entrepreneurs.

Romanian agriculture had, in 2009, 15,112 operational businesses, of which a share of 87.4% had anywhere between 0 and 9 employees, 11% of them had 10 to 49 employees, and 1.3% had between 50 and 249 employees. Official records indicate an average number of 110,000 employees for the 15,000 businesses, which gives an average ratio of 7.3 employees per company.

In addition to these, subsistence farming absorbed another 2.3 million workers as self-employed and unpaid family workers, who have total discretion over their work schedule and organisation.

In industry, 56,500 companies were active in 2009, of which 73.5% employed 0 to 9 workers, 19.3% of them employed 10 to 49 employees, 5.8% used the services of 50 to 249 employees, and 1.4% of them (815 companies) had a staff of 250 persons and over.

In the services sector, over 402,000 businesses were on record in 2009. Of these, 95.5% were staffed with 0 to 9 employees, and only 0.1% could boast of more than 250 employees.

Another detail that illustrates the effects of restructuring on the forms of work organisation in the Romanian economy and on technological, process, product, and scope restructuring is the number of employees, their level of qualification, and their social and vocational profile.

Table 1 below reflects the major changes that occurred in respect of number of employees by sectors and all over the economy, as well as the number of production workers, technicians, experts, and administrative personnel.

Table 1: Number of employees by economic sectors and professional groups in Romania (thou’ persons)

Total Employees


Technical and administrative personnel







Agriculture and mining Industry







Manufacturing industry and construction














Total economy







Source: 'Romanian Statistical Yearbook', National Institute of Statistics (Institutul Naţional de Statistică, INS), Bucharest, various editions.

With the total number of labourers reduced from 6.4 million to 2.7 million persons (which stands for some 58%), between 1990 and 2007, the share of labourers in the total number of employees dropped from 78.8% in 1990, to 55.7% in 2007, while the technical, expert and administrative personnel grew from 21.2% to 44.3%, with a tendency to reach parity with the number of workers.

With the significant development of the tertiary economic sector, the traditional forms of work organisation, specific of fordism and taylorism, are increasingly obsolescent.

However, we cannot help noticing the latest developments in retail, for example.

Hyper- and super-market chains have thrived in Romania, particularly since the year 2000.

While in 1997, the first 5 large retailers accounted for only 0.6% of the retailing sector’s turnover, and for 2.2% of the total number of employees in this sector, by 2009 retailers had expanded their share to 14.7% of the turnover, and 6.7% of the employees. In 2009, the top 10 of the more than 121,000 corporate retailers held a share of 31% of the turnover, and 13.3% of the total number of workers in retail.

It is obvious that big corporate retailers has a work organisation based by standardised patterns, unlike the small shops that operate with 2 to 3 employees, on the average.

The only, indirect, information on how employees and managers perceive the way in which work or activity is organised comes from the surveys conducted in the past two years as part of projects financed from the European Social Fund (ESF).

A survey on the 'Relationships between education and life-long learning, and the labour market', (October 2011), performed by the Permanent Technical Secretariat of the North-West Regional Pact for Employment and Social Inclusion (Secretariatul Tehnic Permanent al Pactului Regional Nord-Vest pentru Ocupare şi Incluziune Socială, STPNV), as part of the SOPHRD/ID 1357, funded from ESF, and based on questioning 400 organisations, and 1,000 employees, revealed the employees’ opinion that their jobs are mainly focused on compliance with quality standards (81.6% of the answers), consist of repetitive operations (70.3%), and require problem solving (69.5%).

The positions they hold expect from them, to a lesser extent, their original thinking (49.5% of the employees), or self-assessment of their work quality (50.6% of the respondents).

The figures quoted above reflect the fact that the corporate entities chosen for the survey command the requisite technical facilities and know-how for a good management of labour, even though too much routine may discourage the development of flexible work organisation patterns.

The same survey shows that most of the employees still feel the need for improving their competences in computer techniques, communication, and team work.

This partly coincides with the views of the corporate entities questioned for the survey. They admitted that the capacity to work in a team was the prime criterion in the recruitment and selection of personnel.

The 'Survey on flexibility patterns used in Romanian corporate entities operating in the Romanian development regions Bucureşti-Ilfov, Sud-Muntenia and Centre' (made during the FLEXINOV project regarding flexible and innovating enterprises SOPHRD/81/3.2/S/49261), conducted in March – April 2011, on a sample of 374 organisations and 403 employees (of whom 143 held management position, and 260 held executive positions), in the three development regions, indicates that, in general, managers do adopt practical measures designed to provide organisational and functional flexibility.

More than half of the interviewed managers (59%) said that they had clearance to adapt the working schedule (flexibility of time), 76% said that the employees have the versatility to perform various tasks (functional flexibility), and 50% said that they had free hand to adjust salaries to individual performance (wage flexibility).

Flexibility of personnel is regarded by 83% of the respondents as an important component of an organisation’s strategy for a competitive edge on the market.

In other words, the general management of business, both at individual and corporate levels, is tailored to give the organisation the capability to stay in the market.

The managers’ view was that rotation of personnel on different workplaces is a good tool to keep workers motivated (53% of the respondents), and to increase their chances of redeployment in other organisations, due to multiple training (49% of respondents); however, only 39% of the questioned managers apply the personnel rotation principle.

Block 3: Associated effects of identified different forms of work organisation and work organisation-related items on working conditions

  • Identify associated effects of different existing patterns of work organisation and work organisation-related items on working conditions (i.e. training, skills and employability; health, safety and well-being; working time and work-life balance). Particular elements to be analysed may include stress, job satisfaction, work life balance, workloads and learning

  • Identify (possible) changes in working conditions associated to each work organisation pattern in the last 5-7 years, as well as the main reasons underpinning these changes

  • Partners are requested to provide information focused on the existing relationship between predominant work organisation patterns and existing working conditions in the economic sector selected in previous section.

No data available.

Block 4: Social partners’ position with regard to the issue of work organisation patterns

  • Attitude/opinion of the social partners in your country on the importance of encouraging changes of work organisation in the economic tissue

  • Main elements identified by social partners and associated with forms of work organisation, which have an impact on the improvement of working conditions and performance.

  • Please distinguish (if possible) different views between trade unions and employers organisations.

  • In some countries, agreements have been signed between social partners or initiatives/programmes have been developed by employers and/or trade unions in order to support changes in work organisation for different reasons (e.g. facing the economic crisis, improvement of productivity/performance and/or working conditions). Please, describe one/two relevant agreements or initiatives with the aim of supporting changes in work organisation.

The information available to us indicates that the social partners are involved in work organisation and working conditions matters during collective bargaining for the national, sectoral, multi-employer, and single-company collective agreements.

The national unique collective agreement for the period 2007 – 2010 included a section regarding health and safety at work, which, inter alia, stipulates the following:

  • 'Organisation of business shall be provided by establishing an adequate structure in charge of work organisation, assigning each worker to a work place, specifying the duties and liabilities related thereto, and verifying that the employees comply with their duties; such structure shall be the exclusive responsibility of each employer';

  • 'Workload standards shall be developed for each category of employees – manual workers, technicians, engineers, economists, and other specialisations, as well as administrative workers – both for those paid by piece work, and for those paid by working time. The workload standards shall be expressed in units of time, quantity of product, number of subordinated personnel, extent of prerogatives, or other measuring criteria, depending on the specifics of the production process or clerical duties being rated';

  • 'Work standards shall be developed by employer, in agreement with the trade unions, and shall become part of, and attached to, the single-employer collective bargaining agreement';

  • 'Workload standards may be subject to review at the request of either the employer or the employees, when the standards fail to reasonably fill the working time of an employee, or when they put excessive pressure on employees, or when they no longer fit the working conditions for which they were developed';

  • 'The employer shall ensure the technical and organisational conditions stipulated in the work standards, and the employees shall do their best to accomplish the amount of work or the duties assigned to them according to their job description'.

The national unique collective agreement includes a chapter on wages, which, among other provisions, also provides that:

'The wage payment and work organisation patterns may be any of the following:

  • in a lump sum or measured in time units;

  • by piece work;

  • based on fees, or on profit sharing;

  • other patterns specific for the employing entity'.

And, further:

'Work organisation and wage payment by piece work may follow any of the following patters:

  • direct;

  • progressive;

  • indirect.'

'Direct, progressive, and indirect payment may be applied individually or collectively. The work organisation and wage payment option applicable to each type of work shall be stipulated in the collective agreement at company level'.

The collective agreement must also specify the salary scale according to each level of training/qualification.

These provisions are also enclosed in the branch level collective agreements.

The negotiations prior to the adoption of the 2011 amendments to the Labour Code, which may considered as relevant from the point of view of work organisation, revealed the reluctance of the national trade unions confederation to accept the introduction of flexibility principles with regard to working schedules, and the length of individual employment contracts.

The new provisions give employers wide prerogatives to bargain for fixed-term employment contracts, and for more flexible working schedules.

The dual concept of flexicurity enjoys support from employers on the flexibility side, and from the unions on the security side.

Commentary by the NC

NCs are requested to provide a very brief commentary on main obtained results

The drive towards sizing down the former big companies outweighed, for many years, the concerns for work organisation. On the other hand, the advent of ICT and of new work schedules and unconventional forms of performing duties also helped the classical approach of line and other types of work organisation grow obsolete.

The change in the contents of work brought about by the new technologies is changing the proportions between white collars and blue collars, generates new relations between those who contribute to the making of a company’s products, thereby fostering the creation of new forms of work organisation.

The dissolution of the former, classical, industrial parks, and their replacement by industrial sites designed to accommodate global technologies, to enable real time communication, and to keep the pace with the global competition need, and therefore, invent, work organisation formulas to measure.

Luminita Chivu, Institute of National Economy

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