Topic 4 The basics of the country’s labour market and the risks of labour exploitation – how to identify and report labour exploitation

Illegal work:

Carrying out work without an individual employment contract and without observing the related clauses in the mandatory legislation is illegal work, which has many disadvantages for workers. Upon employment, to make sure you have an individual employment contract, drawn up in keeping with the legal provisions in force, make sure that:

  1. The contract contains the clauses you agreed upon together with the employer.
  2. The two copies are signed by you, the employer, have the company seal and the registration number as put in the employers‘ general registry.
  3. You get a copy of the contract in the original, after its official registration.

The contract, once signed, can only be amended/modified with your approval. A contract that you signed, but is not signed and sealed by the employer, and was not officially registered to the competent work institutions, has no legal value.

  • The employer may pay you very small wages, below the minimum legal value and the level corresponding to your skills and workload.
  • There is no set pay day; there is no set work schedule, in keeping with the legal provisions in force; there is no clearly established workload.
  • You do not have work and protection equipment; you have no right to a holiday.
  • You cannot get any unemployment benefits; you cannot get invalidity pension in case of work accidents.
  • You do not have medical insurance.
  • You do not get subsidized medicine, as the employer has not contributed to the social security funds.
  • Moreover, as you do not have a legal employment contract, you may be denied the extension of the right of residence in Romania, except for the situation in which you have another right of residence, other than for work or posting.

A toll-free phone line was activated in 2011 for notifications regarding illegal work. You have access to this line by calling the green number 0800868622, only on the landline telephone networks.

  • Human trafficking: Involves the violation of human rights, by using force, fraud, or coercion which harms the dignity and integrity of a human being. It is also defined as “recruiting, transporting, transferring, sheltering or receiving people, through threats or use of violence or other forms of coercion, through kidnapping, fraud, abuse of authority or of other state of vulnerability or by offering or accepting payment or advantages in exchange for a person’s consent with the goal of exploiting that person.”
  • In 2021, the General Inspectorate for Immigration in Romania adopted procedures for identifying victims among asylum-seekers and migrants and referring those victims to the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP), the government’s lead agency for coordinating anti-trafficking efforts.
  • The Romanian government established a Department for Community Social Responsibility and Vulnerable Populations within the Prime Minister’s Office to monitor the implementation of the recently adopted action plan and coordinate interagency cooperation focused on expanding protection efforts for victims of trafficking, and labour market exploitation.
  • The law required employers of foreign workers to submit applications for work permits. Observers reported this practice left foreign workers vulnerable to abuse, including trafficking, and sometimes working without appropriate documentation because work permits were a requirement to obtaining or extending residence permits.
  • Observers also reported the government tolerated practices through which employers confiscated foreign workers’ residence permits and travel documents to limit their freedom and facilitate potential deportations. The law required the General Inspectorate for Immigration to issue work permits within 30 to 45 days of receiving an application; before issuing work permits, the General Inspectorate verified job offers and employers’ profiles to prevent fraud.
  • In 2021, the General Inspectorate and the Labour Inspectorate conducted a campaign to inform employers who hired or were interested in hiring foreign workers about their rights and responsibilities and the risks of illegal work and exploitation. The General Inspectorate also implemented awareness activities aimed at informing foreign students in Romania about their rights as employees.

Romania facilitates the return of foreign citizens, victims of human trafficking, to their country of origin, with no unjustifiable delay, and ensures their safe transportation up to the border of the country, unless provided otherwise in bilateral agreements. The foreigners who are victims of human trafficking can be accommodated in special centres, without them having to be taken in public custody. To this end, the management of these centres set special areas, separated from those foreigners who have been taken in public custody. The foreigners who are victims of human trafficking are informed, in a language they can understand, about the legal and administrative procedures applied in their case, and may benefit from psychological counselling, medical and social assistance, as well as medicine and food, just like the victims who are Romanian citizens.

  • The foreigners who are likely to be victims of human trafficking benefit from a period of recovery and reflection of up to 90 days for them to get better, get out of the perpetrators’ influence and take an informed decision about cooperation with the competent authorities. During this time, the Romanian Immigration Office, at the request of the court or prosecutor, grants them tolerance for residence on Romanian soil, so they can get a temporary residence permit. The underage foreigners who accompany the victims or who are victims themselves, fall under the provisions regarding the status of foreigners in Romania.
  • For further details, approach the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANTIP): or the NGOs that work with victims of trafficking.