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Unpaid time off, conditions of granting

Employees are entitled to unpaid time off to deal with personal circumstances, but such leave must also be approved by the employer. In the total absence of any provisions in the internal rules or collective agreement on the minimum and maximum duration of such leave or the conditions for granting it, the parties will negotiate on all these issues.

According to the provisions of the Labour Code, “The individual employment contract may be suspended, by agreement of the parties, in the case of unpaid time off for study or personal interests”. Suspension of the employment contract is by agreement between the parties, the initiative having to come from the employee, the employer cannot impose unpaid time off, and the employee cannot decide on his own to reactivate the contract before its term.

A discussion about the period and the employee’s possible reasons must therefore take place before the leave is taken. The employer’s agreement is necessary precisely because it is the employer who is in the position of having to cover, perhaps overnight, for the temporary absence from work of the worker on leave, but may on the other hand refuse, for objective reasons, to grant this leave altogether.

“Art. 153 (1) Employees are entitled to unpaid leave for personal reasons.

(2) The duration of unpaid leave shall be determined by the applicable collective labour agreement or by internal agreement “, states the Labour Code. Although the employee is entitled to this type of leave to deal with personal problems, the employer is not obliged to grant it anyway. This is why, according to the Labour Code, employers must at least include in their internal rules, if there is no collective agreement, something about this type of time off, such as the its duration and various aspects, such as the periods of the year when it cannot be granted. The absence of such provisions in the collective agreement or in the internal rules does not make it impossible to grant unpaid time off, it just leaves the whole situation to the parties to negotiate.

If the employee’s presence at work is imperative, recall is possible, but not unilateral. Since the suspension of the contract is by agreement, for the period agreed by agreement, the recall should be done symmetrically. Employers are generally advised, for entries in the Revisal, to make a further document at a later date stating the cause of suspension, the legal basis and the period. If the employee returns from leave early, or if the employer wants the employee to return from leave early, an agreement is needed for that employment contract to become active again. The employer’s need for the worker on unpaid leave to return to work could be satisfied temporarily, for example, in which case the contract would be reactivated with the agreement of the parties and then suspended again on the basis of a new agreement.


Andreea Niculae

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