Accessing safe and dignified employment

As a job seeker or worker in Romania, it is critical to be aware of your labor rights. Regardless of your nationality or legal status, you have the legal right to a safe, fair and healthy work environment.

If you ever feel unsafe or exploited at work, do not hesitate to reach out for support. Some useful contacts can be found below:

  • UNHCR: refugee helpline +40 723 653 651 (For general questions and support. Available languages: English, Ukrainian, Russian and English)
  • Romanian National Council for Refugees Foundation (CNRR): +40 213 126 210, [email protected] (For questions regarding your legal rights and obligations as a refugee employee or job seeker. Available languages: English, Romanian and other languages upon request).
  • The Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce (RDCC) in a collaborative effort with the Clinique Juridique (a joint degree program of the Bucharest Law School and Sorbonne Law School) and Dentons is offering free legal advice for refugees to ensure that they can effectively exercise their rights in Romania.
    This includes legal counselling and advice on a wide array of issues including employment regulations, legal requirements for setting up a business in Romania, addressing issues of workplace discrimination, and facilitating the diploma recognition process. Assistance is subject to a specific eligibility criteria including the nature and extent of the legal services requested, the vulnerability of the individual requesting assistance, and a lack of means to pay for such services. (If you are in need of legal help, please write an email in English to [email protected] describing your case, providing your contact details, and mentioning that you found the information about their services through the UNHCR help-page. Once the request is processed, you will be contacted by RDCC and (if eligible) connected with a pro-bono lawyer. Meetings with the lawyer takes place at Dentons Office in Bucharest: Dentons, The Mark Office Building, 7th Floor, Calea Griviței 84-98)
  • Eliberare: Crisis Textline +40 757 749 845, [email protected], (for information and support in situations of exploitation and abuse. Available languages: Romanian, English, Russian and Ukrainian).
  • IOM: +40 212 103 050, [email protected] (For information, assistance and protection. Available languages: English, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian)
  • Romanian National Agency against Trafficking: Hotline +40 213 133 100 (For support/advise in situations of labor exploitation and trafficking. Available language: Romanian and English)
  • Emergency services: 112 (For emergency situations)

It is useful to know that in Romania, the rights and obligations of all employees and employers are regulated by the Romanian Labor Code. The full Labour Code can be found here (available in Romanian only). A simplified summary of some basic employee rights can be found below:

  • Employment Contract: Before you start working, the employer is legally required to provide you with a contract which outlines your rights, obligations and duties. Make sure that you understand the content of the contract before signing it.
  • Minimum gross salary: 3,300 lei per month for full-time employees working 40 hours per week. For the construction sector, however, the minimum gross salary is 4,500 lei.  
  • Minimum paid annual leave: 20 working days per year (excluding public holidays)
  • Working hours: The maximum working time may not exceed 48 hours per week (including overtime), with the exception for certain activities/professions where this may be negotiated. However, the average working time calculated over a 4-month period must still be below 48 hours per week. The employer is legally required to compensate for overtime work, either with paid time off or financial compensation.
  • Sick leave entitlement: The first 5 working days (per calendar year) of absence due to illness are paid for by the employer. The minimum sick pay is equivalent to 75% of the average monthly income during the previous six months. Additional sick days are compensated for by the State Healthcare System, given that you have contributed to the social insurance system.
  • Working conditions: The employer has a responsibility to ensure that you have a safe and healthy working environment. This includes providing you with adequate protective equipment, sufficient rest periods, and a safe physical environment.
  • Guaranteed breaks: For workdays exceeding 6 hours, employees are legally entitled to have breaks, under conditions established by the employment contract or internal regulations.
  • Termination of employment: The employment can be terminated by either the employer or employee, under the conditions outlined in the employment contract and labor code. In the case of dismissals, the employer is required to give at least 20 working days’ notice of termination (unless there has been a severe or repeated breach of the employees’ duties, or the employee is held under temporary detention for more than 30 days). During this notice period, the employee is entitled to receive their salary. In the case of resignation, the employee is required to give notice in accordance with what was agreed upon in the employment contract.

Ask for support if you encounter the following situations:

  • Your documents, such as your ID card, Temporary Protection/Asylum documentation, passport have been taken away from you.
  • You have no written employment contract signed by both you and the employer.  
  • You are threatened or forced to provide services/acts against your will and against what was agreed upon in your contract or through the job advertisement.
  • You are being forced to work overtime excessively or without compensation.  
  • You are monitored without being informed and in ways that invade your privacy.
  • You are being paid less than the minimum wage or what was agreed upon in the contract.
  • You are experiencing bullying, physical/verbal abuse, or unwanted sexual advancements from colleagues, supervisors or managers.

Be careful when reviewing job postings.
Some warning signs that a potential job may not be legitimate include:

  • The job description/requirements are vague or poorly written with grammatical errors
  • The salary/benefits seem too high for the position, or the job sounds “too good to be true”
  • You are being asked for money by the employer (for example, being asked to pay to get an interview/job/onboarding)
  • You cannot find information about the company online
  • The employer refuses to provide you with an employment contract before you start working
  • The employer contacts you through non-company email domains (for example, the employer insists on only speaking through messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram)

Before starting any form of employment, it is advised to view the below video and check-list about “how to recognize legitimate employment”, developed by IOM and Liberated.