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The Ministry of Labour of the Russian Federation made an explanation for remote work on the period since March 30th till April 30th


 
The period from March 30th till April 30th were declared as non-working days with preservation of salary payments under President’s decrees No. 206 of 25 March 2020 “On declaration of non-working days in the Russian Federation” and No. 239 of 2 April 2020 “On measures for people’s sanitary-epidemiological welfare in condition of new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) spread”. Since primary intention of decrees is to reduce personal contacts during communication of disease, employers subsequently raised up questions about remote work and compensations during this period.
 
The Labour Code of the Russian Federation do not contain legal definition of non-working days whilst it has “weekends” and “non-working holidays”. As to this, legislation do not provide double-time compensation if employee is working during these days. The Ministry of labour issued a submission which indirectly approves that: “a non-working day is not considered as a weekend or a non-working holiday, thus the compensation should be in general amount, not in heightened amount”1. However, this submission does not cover the circumstances under which the compensation is to be made thus it is not clear whether this position covers cases when employee worked during March 30 – April 30 or not. We read this as if compensation should be general in all cases despite of the pact of performance of a work, but advise you to deal it individually with every employee – the Ministry of labour stated the employer can improve compensations voluntarily.
 
For those who had been working remotely before the time decrees were issued, the Ministry of labour advised as follows:
 
“Employees who perform their work remotely can proceed work during the period decrees validity if employer gets their consent with strict conformance of requirements of the Ministry of healthcare of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer rights protection and human well-being) regarding preventive measures of the new coronavirus infection”
 
During the Decree validity all changes in respect of remote work can be executed via e-mail exchanges of scanned documents with subsequent formalization if necessary”2
 
Lately the Ministry of labour additionally highlighted that possibility for remote work is preserved while compensation should be general, not double-time3.
 
Vocabulary used by the Ministry of labour for clarifications suggests that those clarifications were issued for all workers whose job allows them to perform it out of office (remotely) and not only applies to distant workers (chapter 49.1 of the Labour Code)4. It is important to distinguish distant workers and people who work remotely under agreement with employer. Applicably to the situation, distinctions are as follows:
 

 

Distant work

Remote work

Documentation

Employees contract for distant work – art. 312.1 of the Labour Code

Employer’s agree, no need for additional documents

Special rights and obligations

As all employees with particularities provided by the chapter 49 of the Labour Code

N/a

Workplace

Out of employer’s domicile. For example, for Moscow distant workers their contract has provision “Workplace – Moscow”

Workplace under employer control, despite an employee is out of this place

 

Additional requirements

Use of enhanced encrypted and certified digital signature

N/a

 
Considering clarifications made by the Ministry of labour, those recommendations cover all employers who works out of office now. So, the Ministry of labour does not prohibit to work this non-working days and forces to proceed.
 
Thus, if work is remote and is not of itinerant nature, we advise you to proceed performing with several restrictions. Work with itinerant nature should be suspended within the part that refers to commuting and interrelation.
 
For all other employees we advise the following to do list:
 
  1. To get employee’s consent for work proceeding during non-working days and make a corresponding application for remote work. The application should contain a period while work presume to be remoted – since March 30 till April 30 or until all restriction measures are cancelled.
  2. An employee can send signed and scanned application for remote work via e-mail and when restrictions are cancelled take clear documents to the office if necessary. Use of enhanced encrypted and certified digital signature do not require.
  3. There is no need to sign any other agreements, including additional to employment one – an application is enough. 
  4. For those who had already worked remotely before the decrees came into force employer should get employees consent only. The signed and scanned document with expressed consent can be delivered via e-mail. 
  5. For distant workers employers should also get consent for proceeding until April 30. We advise you to keep up with the requirements provided by the Labour Code – to use enhanced encrypted and certified digital signature.
 
With the remote work the employer`s control over employees decreases. As the employee is not in the office (usual workplace), it is practically impossible to check the start and end time of work and other labor discipline. The Ministry of Labor did not give any recommendations on this matter, leaving this issue at the discretion of employers entirely.
 
In this regard, we advise you do not try to control working time directly. If possible, we recommend using alternative methods that have previously been successfully applied in relations with distant workers. Among those are we can highlight the billing into special reporting system and use of working equipment (tablet, phone) with geolocation turned on. If employment contract or employer’s local acts provide use of e-mail correspondence for parties’ legal communication, we also advise you to do so. These options do not require any special technical support while allows you to keep track of work time in a comfort manner for all parties.
 
_____
1See para. 3 of Recommendations for employees and employers within President’s decree No. 206 of 25 March 2020 “On declaration of non-working days in the Russian Federation” // URL: https://rosmintrud.ru/labour/relationship/379.
2See para. 3 of Amendments to Recommendations for employees and employers within President’s decree No. 206 of 25 March 2020 “On declaration of non-working days in the Russian Federation”  // URL: https://rosmintrud.ru/labour/relationship/380.
3See Questions and answers for organization of a work and compliance with employee’s rights during non-working week // URL: https://rosmintrud.ru/employment/54.
4Distant workers are those who had distant work employment contract only (art, 312.1 of the Labour Code).
 
 


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