Romania's leftist government has approved an unpopular measure that means workers will pay social welfare taxes currently paid by employers.

Some 500 demonstrators massed outside the government offices Wednesday to voice their opposition to the measure, yelling "the Tax code, a national disaster!"

President Klaus Iohannis, trade unions, investors associations and ordinary Romanians oppose the changes, saying they would mean an effective cut to wages.

Finance Minister Ionut Misa insisted both companies and employees would benefit. The government passed the measure in an emergency ordinance Wednesday.

Social welfare taxes have until now been jointly paid by workers and their employers.

The national currency, the leu, dropped Wednesday to 4.61 per euro, the lowest since 2012.