On 3 April 2020, Law no. 37/2020 for the amendment of Article 139 of the Labour Code and Article 94 of the National Education Law no. 1/2011 was published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, no. 280 of 3 April 2020.
Paragraph (21) concerning the granting of free days for Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, the first and second days of Easter, the first and second days of Pentecost, to employees who belong to a Christian legal, religious cult, according to the date when those days are celebrated by that cult has been incorporated into Article 139 of the Labour Code.
Also, a new paragraph (31) with the following wording will be inserted in Article 139: “the employees who benefit from free days for Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, the first and second days of Easter, the first and second days of Pentecost, both on the dates established for the legal, Christian religious cult, to which they belong, as well as for other Christian cults, will recover the extra days off based on a schedule established by the employer.”
According to the Explanatory Memorandum annexed to the legislative proposal for the modification of the Labour Code, the aim of the amendment is that although Christmas is celebrated on the same calendar date by Christian religions, there may be different dates annually for the celebration of Easter and Pentecost.
Many employers have therefore raised the issue of applying the provisions of the Labour Code in conjunction with those of Law no. 489/2006 regarding the religious freedom and the general regime of the cults ("Law no. 489/2006"), whereby employees can benefit from free legal days according to the religion or cult to which they belong, but at the same time not disrupting the employer’s activities.
Thus, the amendment gives employees belonging to several Christian cults which celebrate Easter and Pentecost on different dates the possibility of having 10 days of leave, of which five days are to be recovered according to the schedule established by the employer.
Therefore, if an employee claims to have a different religious confession than the Orthodox one and wants to benefit from the legal free days to which he/she is entitled, the employee only has to prove his/her confessional affiliation and the reality of the religious holiday if requested by the employer.
Such proof is provided by a certificate from the cult to which the individual belongs, the list of recognised cults in Romania being annexed to Law no. 489/2006.
By Mircea-Catalin Roman, Senior Associate, and Flavia Denisa Margas, Associate, Noerr