Russian Federation: Specific features of Russian labour law in times of the corona virus

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published on 12 March 2020 | reading time approx. 2 minutes

 

​Russian labour law is notorious for its very rigorous and minute technical require­ments. An employment contract must be concluded in writing. Any change, any procedure in employment relations regulated by labour law must be documented in writing through issuance of a relevant guideline. The employer may not request that the employee perform any type of work not covered in the contract. Law does not envisage any flexible changes at short notice on the basis of an oral agreement, but they can be practiced where the employer and the employee have sufficient confidence in one another.

 

 

 

Are there any special regulations in place for the period of the Coronavirus disease?

On 31 January 2020 the Russian government issued Decree no. 66 including the coronavirus disease in the list of so-called hazardous diseases. No Chinese citizens have been allowed to enter Russia since 20 February 2020.


On 5 March 2020 the mayor of the city of Moscow issued Decree no. 12 in preparation to the measures to be taken in a crisis situation. This decree imposes on all persons entering Russia from a country with a critical epidemiological situation, such as China, South Korea, Italy, France and Germany, the obligation to stay quarantined at home for 14 days. Employers must take fever readings of their employees, send any person with suspicious symptoms home and grant support to official investigations. The Moscow City Government threatens with severe administrative and penal sanctions to individuals and employers that are found to be in non-compliance with this regulation. Although this decree is believed legally invalid because it goes outside the scope of authority of the city government and comes in conflict in more than one respect with certain Russian federal legal acts and in particular with the Data Protection Act and the Labour Code, we recommend as much compliance with the instructions in this decree as possible. Below we discuss certain individual consequences of this decree for the employers and the employees located in Moscow.
 

What about continued compensation payments in case of illness and staying quarantined?

Pursuant to Article 183 of the Labour Code (viewed in conjunction with Article 14 of the Legal Act on Mandatory Insurance), in case of their illness (or stay in quarantine) the employee is entitled to continuation of payroll payments as 60 percent to 100 percent of the average daily payroll, but not to exceed 2301.37 Rubel per day – which is approx. 75.000 Rubel per month. Therefore, the employee’s disease or stay in quarantine will lead to significant income losses for the employee concerned. Of course, payroll payment is only continued subject to presentation of an official medical certificate. If one should get quarantined in Moscow as per above-mentioned decree, one can obtain such certificate by phone with reference to the special rules established by the city government decree of 5 March 2020. However, employers are strongly discouraged to terminate an employment contract due to the employee’s unauthorised absence from their workplace - even in situations of obvious abuse. The remote work from a home office solution should be considered in case of loyal employees.
 

Are employees entitled to work remotely from a home office? Can such remote work from a home office be imposed by means of an order?

The regulations on “home offices” (remote work) are complex in Russia due to extreme technicality of Russian labour law. In principle, employees may not work from a home office. However, remote work may be agreed upon in the contract prior to commencement or even during the employment relationship, if necessary (Article 312.2 of the Russian Labour Code). The Decree issued by the Mayor of Moscow on 5 March 2020 imposes on the employees who have visited a high-risk country the obligation to stay quarantined at home for 14 days. Thus, it is recommended to reach an agreement with these employees on their remote work from a home office in order to avoid adverse consequences. To prevent non-compliance with the mandatory quarantine rule, it would be advisable to conclude online an addendum to the employment contract regarding remote work and to send evidence of its conclusion to the employee by post within three days.
 

Are employees still under an obligation to go to work in case their railroad (commute transport) service has been discontinued?

The Labour Code does not establish any special rules for such situations, i.e. the affected employees must appear for work at their workplaces. However, redundancy for absenteeism would not be justifiable in such situations because the absence if the affected employees from their workplace has been caused by an objective impossibility to comply with this general rule.
 

Does Russian law grant employees any rights to refuse to work?

According to Articles 21, 22 and 57 of the Labour Code, the employees are entitled to working conditions at a level determined by a so-called special assessment of workplaces and described in their employment contracts. Thus, employees may refuse to work if their working conditions differ from the agreed (standard) working conditions because of the hazard of becoming infected with a dangerous disease in the office or at the workplace.
 

What should one do if kindergartens and schools are closed?

If one’s child’s kindergarten has been closed in quarantine, the affected employee should receive a certificate of incapacity to work – similar to a situation where one’s child is ill (Item 43 of Circular Letter no. 624 issued by the Ministry of Health on 29 June 2011). Either of the parents of the schoolchild aged under 14 becomes entitled to shorter working hours in accordance with Article 93 of the Labour Code.


Does any duty of action emerge with the employer in view of the current risk of infection? Are the employees obliged to follow prescribed preventive/protective measures?

It has been recommended to the employers in the city of Moscow (as stipulated in the decree of 5 March 2020) to ensure the availability of thermometers in the entrance areas of their offices/facilities. If an employee is found to have a fever, they should be sent home immediately and contact a doctor by phone. Labour law does not envisage any instructions in the form of an order. The premises must be disinfected afterwards.


What possibilities are open to the employers to minimise adverse economic consequences?

According to Articles 72.2 and 157 Clause 2 of the Labour Code, the employer can order a so-called suspension of operations/short working hours – in particular for economic reasons not attributable to either the employer or the employee. In this case the employee must be paid pro rata temporis – but in any case not less than 2/3 of the agreed fixed salary rate. Bonuses and additional allowances are not to be taken into account for the purpose of payroll calculation in this situation.

 

Depending on the situation, employees may be transferred to a different location for one month – even without their consent (Article 72 Clause 3 of the Labour Code).


Are employees entitled to continued remuneration in case the employer’s operations are suspended?

In case the enterprise has been temporarily closed or a part of the company’s business has been closed because of short working hours, the employees become entitled to compensation from the employer, which must be at least 70 percent of their current gross payroll and may be additionally increased by the employer. In case of advanced training, this compensatory payment is to be increased to 100 percent of the current net payroll. Insofar, the employer becomes entitled to compensation from the state.

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