Role of Conciliation and of External Consultants in Labour Conflicts

On October 3rd, 2020 Law 213/2020 for the amendment and completion of the Labour Code entered into force, introducing the terms external consultant and conciliation in employment relationships.
According to the law, conciliation is the process of settling individual labour conflicts in a friendly manner with the help and support of an external consultant specialised in labour law, in conditions of neutrality, impartiality and confidentiality, with the consent of the parties.
The external consultant specialised in labour law may be a lawyer, an expert in labour law or a mediator specialized in labour law who, through his active role, will make sure that the parties settle the dispute in a friendly manner.
The external consultant can represent either party, not only in the event of a labour conflict but also at the negotiation, conclusion or amendment of the employment contract.
In the event of a labour dispute, the parties are entitled to freely choose their external consultant whose fee shall be paid by the parties according to their agreement.
Either party may contact an external consultant to initiate the labour dispute conciliation procedure. The external consultant will send to the other party a written invitation, through one of the means of communication referred to in the employment contract. The conciliation proceedings can’t be initiated in more than 5 days from the delivery of the invitation. Any deadlines to appeal a labour dispute shall be suspended during the conciliation.
If the parties manage to solve the dispute through conciliation, the external consultant must draft an agreement that shall include the terms of the parties and the means of solving the dispute. The agreement must be signed by the parties and by the external consultant and shall become effective on the signing date or on a later date to be expressly stipulated in the agreement.
Conciliation proceedings end when a minute is drafted in this regard, signed by the parties and by the external consultant, in the following cases: the dispute is solved and the parties sign an agreement; the external consultant acknowledges the failure of the conciliation; the failure of either party to be present on the date communicated in the invitation.
This process of settling labour disputes in a friendly manner must be included by the employer in the Internal Rules.
The employer can request the services of an external consultant specialised in labour law also for disciplinary procedures, case in which the employer must authorize the consultant to this end. In this case, for the prior disciplinary investigation the employee shall be notified in writing by the external consultant.
On the other hand, during the prior disciplinary investigation, employees have the right to defence and to provide the committee or the person authorized to carry out proceedings all the proofs and arguments employees deem necessary, but also the right to be assisted, upon their request, by an external consultant specialized in labour law.

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