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Rights of employees working during weekends – frequently asked questions

Is your company operating in a business industry where employees are working during weekends? Indeed, there are some areas or industries in which companies need to carry out their activities and ask their employees to come to work on weekends. For example, we may be talking here about employees operating in the field of services (for example, those who work in cafes, hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, etc.), or from retail: for example, commercial workers who work in stores with operations throughout the entire week.

But employers need to know two main aspects when it comes to asking employees to work on Saturdays and Sundays: (1) this is expressly permitted by Romanian labor law; (2) nevertheless, if the employer asks them to work during weekends, it will have to pay certain compensation to the employees concerned. Therefore, we present below a list of answers to the most important questions that someone might have about the rights of employees working on weekends.

The answers are provided by experienced lawyers, specialists in Romanian labor law.

Yes, the Romanian Labor Code allows for an employer to require an employee to work on Saturdays and Sundays. But any employee who works on weekends is, however, protected by law. And the first protection that the Romanian Labor Code grants to the employees is to force the employer to call its employees to work on weekends only if the nature of the activity requires it.

Specifically, according to Article 137 (2) of the Romanian Labor Code: “if the rest on Saturdays and Sundays would harm the public interest or the normal conduct of business of the company, the weekly rest may be granted on different days, as established by the collective labor agreement applicable, or by the internal regulations of the company”.

In other words, the employer must be involved in an industry or activity in which the normal development of the activity also involves work during the weekend. For example, such situations may occur:

  • in the case of employees working in a museum,
  • for those who work for a public service that must be provided continuously (for example, public transport),
  • in the case of aircraft pilots,
  • in the case of those who work in supermarkets, hypermarkets, or similar.

Therefore, any Romanian employer must know that they can ask an employee to work during weekends, but they must be prepared to demonstrate, in the event it is needed, that the company’s activity must take place on Saturdays and Sundays.

No. The possibility of asking an employee to work during weekends is an exception to the principle that weekly rest days are granted on Saturdays and Sundays. However, it cannot be an exception to the rule that an employee must benefit, in a seven-day week, from 48 consecutive hours of weekly rest.

Therefore, if an employee has already worked from Monday to Friday, the employer cannot ask him to work also on the weekend of that same week.

Of course, there are some exceptions here as well. For example, the Romanian Labor Code stipulates that, in exceptional cases, weekly rest days could be granted even after a maximum of 14 calendar days of continuous activity. However, in such cases, the authorization of the Romanian Territorial Labor Inspectorate is needed, on the one hand, and the consent of the union or of the employees’ representatives (where there is no union), on the other hand.

The Romanian Labor Code stipulates that an employer for whom employees work even on weekends is obliged to establish, either in the collective labor contract, or in the internal regulations of the company, the days (other than the weekend days) when the employees take their weekly rest (for 48 consecutive hours, as stipulated by law). In other words, the information that the employees may be required to work on weekends must be reflected in the employer’s internal documents.

In addition, there is no question of establishing in detail the days on which the weekly rest will be granted, but only of the general rules according to which the weekly rest days are established. On the other hand, the employer cannot even abuse this prerogative and create an absolutely chaotic work schedule for its employees. Therefore, it is important, as far as possible, to ensure that the applicable rules are as predictable as possible.

This is not mandatory. But an employee could consider the clear establishment of weekly rest days as a fundamental clause for him, without which he would not have concluded an employment contract. In this case, he may subsequently request that the employment contract be annulled if such a clause is missing from it.

This could be debatable, however. If we consider the fact that an employer is anyway allowed to call his employee to work on weekends only if this is necessary by the nature of the activity, the potential employee more than likely becomes aware of this before signing the employment contract. Thus, an employee who is going to be hired by such an employer should already be aware about the possibility of working on the weekend.

At the same time, an employee who engages with such a company, especially if he is inexperienced, could argue that, in fact, the employer had an obligation to inform him that he has to work on weekends.

In any case, in order to avoid any unpleasant situations, it would probably be safest for the employer to include in the employment contract a clause stipulating that the employee will have to work on weekends.

The employer is free to organize its activity, and this means, according to the Romanian Labor Code’s provisions, also establishing the way in which the hours and days of work are distributed. Of course, as we already anticipated in the first answer, the employer is not completely free to determine on which days an employee takes his weekly rest. In establishing this, the employer is obliged to follow certain rules provided by law.

However, if the employer can prove (if necessary) that its activity also involves work on weekends, then it can call an employee to work on Saturdays and Sundays – subject to the other conditions described above regarding the employee’s notification, of course.

According to the provisions of the Labor Code, any employee who works on weekends is entitled to a salary increase. However, it is not established by law, but is established by mutual agreement between the employer, on the one hand, and the employee (or employees), on the other hand. More precisely, it can be established directly in the individual employment contract or, if applicable, in the collective labor contract.

However, please remember that this type of situation is different from the one in which the employee works on public holidays. If the employee has to work on public holidays, the employer is obliged by law to provide the employee primarily with adequate free time compensation (according to Article 142 of the Romanian Labor Code). Only if these days off cannot be granted, for justified reasons, will a salary increase be granted – which cannot be less than 100% of the basic salary.

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