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ArticlesFebruary 28, 20240

Employers can no longer make salary deductions based on imputation decisions in the case of damages caused by an employee

In a decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), it is provided that the current version of the Labor Code no longer allows imputation decisions to be used by employers to withhold part of salary rights due to damages caused by an employee. Thus, in the hypothesis where the employee has not given consent for covering the damages, consent expressed in the context of contractual freedom, the employer is unable to make salary deductions, with the imputation being made through the intervention of the court.

According to the provisions of the Labor Code, employees are liable in terms of contractual civil liability for material damages caused to the employer due to and in connection with their work. Thus, if the employer finds that their employee has caused damage due to and in connection with their work, they may request the employee to recover the value of the damage through a note assessing the damage. However, the value of the damage recovered by the employer, by mutual agreement, cannot exceed the equivalent of five times the gross national minimum wage. Furthermore, it is important to mention that the amount set for covering damages is withheld in monthly installments from the salary rights due to the respective employee, these installments not exceeding one-third of the net monthly salary (without exceeding, cumulatively with other deductions the employee may have, half of that salary).

Additionally, regarding deductions for damages caused to the employer, the Labor Code also clarifies that these can only be made if the employee’s debt is due, liquid, and enforceable, and has been established as such by a final and irrevocable court decision.

Essentially, recovery can only be easily achieved if the employee agrees with the allegations, namely if they admit to committing the act and consider the employer’s claim for compensation to be fair. However, it should not be overlooked that, in the case of an employment relationship, the parties are not in a position of legal equality, but there is a relationship of subordination between them. The direct consequence of this observation, reflected in practice, is that the employee may be indirectly coerced into admitting and agreeing to salary deductions, for fear of risking their job. Moreover, especially from this perspective, the CCR decision is highly relevant, as the reality of employment relationships demonstrates that, in many cases, employers abuse an imputation decision, even if they do not label it as such, which they later impose on the employee, withholding salary rights as if the note assessing the damage constituted an enforceable title (which is not the case). Similarly, there have been situations where the employer either presumes the agreement of the parties or obtains it forcibly, in which cases they erroneously make salary deductions as soon as the damage is found.

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Ana Maria Nistor – Attorney at Law

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