How to Reduce Your Workweek to 4-Days in Romania

Diana Nădejde

9 minutes read

How to Reduce Your Workweek to Four Days in Romania

Some time ago I wrote an article about a new trend that is gaining momentum both at the European and Western level: the reduction of the working week to four days.

Recently, Iceland has even called this concept a ‘resounding success’, even though only public sector employees participated in the pilot program. Participants said they felt less stressed, which reduced the onset of burnout. Thus, the unions have renegotiated the labor contracts – currently, about 86% of the Icelandic workforce has switched to a shorter schedule. 

If you find the idea beneficial and you want to permanently implement it at your company’s level, find out that the legislation in Romania gives you this perspective as well.

As an employer, the Labor Code gives you the opportunity to opt for a shorter working week.

An important aspect: this procedure should not be confused with the temporary reduction of activity, which can only be achieved under certain conditions provided by law that justify the reduction of the work schedule, such as the existence of economic, technological or structural reasons, for periods exceeding 30 working days.

In this respect, art.113  provides as follows: “the distribution of working time throughout the week is, usually, consistent of 8 hours per day, for 5 days, with two days of rest. Depending on the specifics of the unit or work performed, one can also opt for an unequal distribution of the working time, respecting the normal working time of 40 hours per week.”

In other words, if a company wants to introduce the four-day working week, it can resort to the existing legal procedure. At the same time, the employer should not overlook one thing, that the normal duration of work is 40 hours per week, so we will have ten hours of work/day distributed over four days/week.

Moreover, according to the law, this new policy regarding the work schedule must be negotiated through the collective labor agreement at the employer’s level. On the other hand, if there is no collective agreement, the employer can establish the measure directly by introducing the reduced working week in the internal regulation established at the company level.

In other words, if the introduction into the collective agreement involves negotiations, in the case of the internal regulation we can speak of a unilateral decision.

In the same sense, art.116 of the Labor Code: “the concrete way of establishing the unequal work schedule within the 40-hour workweek, as well as within the compressed workweek, will be negotiated through the collective labor agreement at the employer’s level or, in his absence, will be provided for in the internal regulation. Uneven working hours can only function if it is expressly specified in the individual employment contract.”

The modification of the individual employment contract involves the conclusion of an addendum with the role of implementing the work schedule adjustment into practice. Generally, this step takes place before the date from which the change will be applied.

For example, if as an employer you want to modify the individual employment contracts of your employees in order to implement a reduced work schedule on September 1st, 2021, the addendum mentioned above must be concluded before this date.

As a final step, the changes related to the program must also be highlighted by the monthly timesheet, since the Labor Code establishes the employer’s obligation to keep a clear record of the working hours performed daily, highlighting the start and end hours of the program.

The benefits of a program reduced to just four days a week are supported by the conclusions of international research. These include: improving health, increasing the motivation and productivity of employees, decreasing the unemployment rate, and possibly, registering smaller amounts of carbon. Moreover, some employees no longer label Monday as “depressing” because they “recharge their batteries” during the week.

For example, the UK has adopted the option of a four-day and 32-hour working week, which does not involve a salary reduction. On the other hand, it is only natural that these practices remain open to deliberation and, as interest in the idea continues to enjoy a wave of positive reactions, debates about a reduced working system will frequently arise. 

It should be noted that the implementation of a shorter workweek can cause certain problems. Concrete example: France. A 35-hour work schedule demonstrated that a global approach is unlikely to suit everyone. There are some areas (health) that have not been able to adapt quickly enough, thus leading to increased work and staff declines.

Even in the case of the existing procedure in Romania, a disadvantage can be observed. People have different needs and not all would like to add an extra two hours to the work schedule to earn a day off.  

The four-day workweek, considered a possible solution to economic problems by important players in the business environment, is a subject that requires a wide analysis before adoption, being a process not without its challenges.

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Written by Diana Nădejde

Contributor

Originally a legal consultant, but more of a communication person, passionate about writing, digitalization, social media, history and philosophy. At the same time, I don’t think there is a problem that can’t be solved with a good book or a series.

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