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Returning to school. What can workers and employers do if schools are closed and classes are suspended?

There are only a few days left until the start of a new school year. The uncertainty and fear that schools will remain closed and children will remain at home obscures the joy of parents, which is specific to this moment.

Employers are not even more reassuring. From 14th of September they must also worry for the employees with children. These employees might need to stay at home to watch over their children if the schools are closed.

The government, however, seems ready to grant benefits to parents in this situation. It remains to be seen what employers will do without these employees indefinitely.

According to Emergency Ordinance 147/2020 published in the Official Journal on Fridays, in the event of limitation or suspension of teaching in schools, kindergartens and nurseries, due to the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19, employees with children may apply for paid days off under certain conditions.

As we know, the schools scenarios also take into account the options in which some or all students will attend online courses at home. According to the decree, days off will be granted only to one of the parents if they have children up to 12 years, or up to 26 years if they have disabilities, and if the other parent does not also benefit from leisure time.

Of this facility will not benefit the parent who:

  • is in parental leave;
  • is the personal assistant to a dependent child;
  • are on holiday or unpaid leave;
  • has an employment relationship suspended in the event of temporary cessation of the employer’s activity;
  • do not derive any income from wages or similar to wages

How it works?

  • In order to benefit from such leave, the parent supervising the child shall submit a request to the employer, accompanied by a declaration under the responsibility of the other parent that he has not applied for leave at the place of work or has not been suspended on account of temporary cessation of the employer’s activity;
  • The worker’s application is accompanied by a copy of the birth certificate of each child or of the document certifying his/her parental status and, where appropriate, a copy of the certificate with the degree of disability of the child or adult up to 26 years of age.
The employer cannot refuse the parent’s request. They are practically obliged to grant the required free time, otherwise they risk a substantial fine and will have to find solutions to cover the work of missing employees/employees.
But the employee will not be very happy either, especially for employees with higher incomes. The allowance that the employee will receive for each day off will be 75% of the basic salary corresponding to one working day, but no more than the corresponding daily 75% of the average gross salary.
The employer will pay the worker the allowance (which is subject to taxation and payment of social, health and social contributions as well as the payment of the contribution of employment insurance) and adjust the amounts paid with this title by the AJOFM.
Applications for the recovery of the sums paid to employees by way of compensation and supporting documents shall be submitted electronically or in letrically form, within 30 days of the date of payment of contributions and taxes as compensation, and payment of the amounts paid in respect of allowances shall be made within 15 calendar days of the date of registration of the documents.
The composition procedure, the supporting documents and their model shall be established by order of the President of the National Employment Agency, which shall be published in the Official Journal of Romania.
We therefore recommend employers to reflect at an early stage about the strategies they will implemented to address such situations, especially as the indefinite absence of employees can make work more difficult and generate additional costs.
The adoption of flexible work programs, teleworking and even the involvement in the search for alternatives for the supervision of the children, will relieve the pressure generated by the unpredictability of the developements in schools. 
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