Employees can apply for several types of leave at work: rest/annual leave, sick leave, and unpaid leave.

If the first two, the annual and medical leave, are better regulated and better known by employees, the subject of unpaid leave is a little more ambiguous.

But it returns to the forefront especially due to the pandemic which has drastically affected the labor market and, implicitly, employment contracts at the national level – hundreds of thousands of employees have had or still have suspended contracts or are technically unemployed, many being forced to go on unpaid leave for a fairly long period of time.

Romanian Labor Code: what is it and when can you request unpaid leave?

Each employee is guaranteed the right to unpaid leave, separate from the days off and provided in Art. 153 of the Labor Code:

(1) To solve some personal situations, the employees have the right to unpaid leave.

(2) The duration of the unpaid leave shall be established by the applicable collective labor agreement (CLA) or by the company’s internal regulation policy (Rules of Procedures policy).

Seniority and social contributions – affected or not?

When you request days of unpaid leave, the individual employment contract is suspended for that period, by mutual agreement. Therefore, you do not receive a salary because there is no professional activity on your part at work.

Thus, the period of unpaid leave is not considered for seniority or the contribution period in social security systems.

But what about health insurance contributions?

According to Order no. 617 of August 13, 2007, Art. 2: “(3) The insurance rights cease after 3 months from the last payment of the contribution.” – therefore, if you are in a situation of being on unpaid leave for more than 3 months, you lose your right to be insured in the public health insurance system.

How long can you stay on unpaid leave in Romania?

There is no minimum or maximum duration for determining the period of unpaid leave – at least not according to the law. Basically, you can stay on this type of leave at any time if the employer agrees.

The duration of the leave depends on what is stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement – if any – and in the company’s internal regulation policy, which is a document as important as it is neglected, unfortunately, by both employees and employers.

In the internal regulation policy (Rules of Procedures), the conditions regarding the granting and duration of unpaid leave can be specified very clearly: how long, in what specific personal situations, etc., to avoid possible abuses of the employer, but also to protect the rights of both parties involved.