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Return to work after a negative COVID-19 test

The global pandemic struck the world by surprise and continues to send shockwaves through life as we know it. The latter generated a host of new regulations to abide by, and protocol to follow. In line with this, the labour market came face to face with stringent demands, including some employers requesting that employees who were either quarantined because they were direct contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases or were COVID-19 positive and were cured, present a negative SARS-CoV-2 test before returning to work.

In response to the above, the Ombudsman was notified and a request to intervene nationally was submitted to the Minister of Labour and Social Protection in August of 2020. The scope of the request was to inform employers that such a condition could not soundly be imposed. This measure is subject to sanction and outside the law.

The Ombudsman thus requested a more intense media coverage through the territorial labour inspectorates ("TLI"), accentuating the fact that asymptomatic/ symptomatic patients with mild forms were declared cured and could resume professional activities (with a mask and social distancing) following completion of the 14 day isolation period, without the requirement of the second control test. The latter being in compliance with legal provisions in force, and excluding the condition of performing a new test.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection complied with the request of the Ombudsman on 1 February 2021.

Therefore, after our review, the TLIs (such as TLI Calarasi, Gorj, Cluj, Dambovita, etc.) have started to provide online information for employers and employees. This information brings to the attention of employers the need to comply with the regulations in force during the pandemic, so that the return to work of employees, who have been in quarantine or isolation, is not conditioned by the presentation of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test.

Moreover, the Order of the Minister of Health no. 1819/2020, comes in support of employees, specifying that patients who have completed the 14 day isolation period from the date of the first positive COVID-19 test, declared cured, can resume their current and professional activities in compliance with the legal provisions in force, without be conditioned by performing a new test.

The Labour Inspectorate recommends that employees who have problems returning to work report these situations to the TLIs in the counties where they work.

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