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Days off for employees under the Labour Code. Christians and Non-Christians

Law no. 37/2020, supplementing art. 139 of Law no. 53/2003 – Labour Code ("Law 37/2020") has been recently published in the Romanian Official Gazette, Part I, no. 280, on April 3, 2020.

The provisions of the Labour Code include, besides weekly rest periods and annual leave, non-working public holidays.

The amendments enacted by Law 37/2020 involve the non-working public holidays and provide that employees belonging to a legal Christian religious denomination shall benefit from days off for Easter and Whitsun on the days when these holidays are provided for in the religious calendar

Also, in cases where the employees benefit from days off for Easter and Whitsun, granted by their employer both on account of their Christian religious denomination and for another Christian religious denomination, the employer may establish a schedule for recovering the additional non-working days.  Thus, if an employee is of another Christian denomination (e.g. Catholic) and the employer gives him or her free days for legal holidays which are for orthodox Christian employees, the employer can set a schedule for recovering these days which were not mandatory to be given to this Catholic employee.

Conversely, for Catholics benefiting by Easter and Whitsun for Catholics as well as from the Orthodox calendar, the employer can set the period when these additional days off shall be recovered as working days.

The reasoning behind the amendment to the Labour Code was so that employees could benefit from additional non-working days according to the Christian denomination they belong to, without the employer having to interrupt its activity. Until now employers were giving free days to both Orthodox and Catholic employees for Orthodox legal holidays and could not recover these days given twice for Catholic Easter and Whitsun as well. Now the employer can give free days to Catholics for Orthodox holidays only if he wants to and if he does not want to, it will not be a total interruption of his activity as it has been until now.

The beneficiaries of the non-working days granted to employees who belong to another Christian religious denomination

Nationally, there are 18 religious denominations legally accepted, according to the Schedule of the Law no. 489/2006, namely:

  • The Romanian Orthodox Church
  • The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Timisoara;
  • The Roman Catholic Church;
  • Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek Catholic;
  • The Archdiocese of the Armenian Church;
  • The Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church;
  • Reformed Church;
  • The Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession;
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church;
  • The Unitarian Church of Transylvania;
  • The Union of the Baptist Churches in Romania;
  • The Christian Evangelical Church of Romania – The Union of the Christian Evangelical Churches in Romania;
  • The Romanian Evangelical Church;
  • The Pentecostal Union – The Apostolic Church of God in Romania;
  • The Seventh Day Adventists Church of Romania;
  • The Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania;
  • Islam;
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses Association of Romania.

What happens to employees belonging to a religion other than those of Christianity?

No amendments to the Labour Code have been enacted with regard to non-Christian employees.

They benefit from two days of leave for each of the three (3) annual religious holidays declared as such by these religions. Therefore, these employees benefit from at least 6 days of non-working legal paid days. Also, the employer grants the free paid days for them on other days than the days for legal holidays provided for by the law for Christian denomination, depending on when their annual religious holidays are, as per their religious denomination.

Law 37/2020 entered into force on April 6th, 2020.

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