Electronic document management in the area of labour relations is not new and has been actively used by companies for years already. This method, however, was not regulated in terms of legislation, which put the parties in an inconvenient position in case of non-compliance with the procedure for exchanging documents bypassing the procedures established by the Labour Code. On 22 November 2021 , the amendments were made to the Labour Code officially establishing the procedure for introduction of electronic document management between an employee and an employer.
Electronic document management in the area of labour relations (EDM) means creation, signing, use and storage of employment-related documents that are executed electronically with no duplicate in paper form by an employer, an employee or an incoming employee (Part 1, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code).
What documents may be exchanged electronically
An employee and an employer may exchange any documents in respect of which labour legislation and other regulations containing labour law provisions provide for execution on paper and/or acquaintance with them by an employee or an incoming employee in writing, including against signature (Part 2, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code).
What documents may not be exchanged electronically
The following exhaustive list of documents shall be executed in writing (Part 3, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code).
- Work Record Books and details on employees' employment history formed in electronic form in accordance with the labour legislation;
- Industrial accident report;
- Orders (decrees) on dismissal;
- Documents confirming completion of labour protection briefings by an employee, including those personally signed by an employee.
What EDM system (information system) may be used
Companies may use the following systems for electronic document management (Part 4, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code).
- “Work in Russia” unified digital platform in the area of employment and labour relations, https://trudvsem.ru (Part 5, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code);
- Other system (determined by the employer) (Part 6, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code).
Switching to EDM: right or obligation
Switching to EDM is a right, the decision to switch to EDM is made based on the internal organisational needs of the company.2. Employee:
- Any employee having work experience as of 31 December 2021 may refuse to switch to EDM, and the employer is obliged to keep the workflow in writing in case of refusal. Sanctions as dismissal or refusal to hire for refusing to use EDM may not be applied to such employees ;
- An employee who is hired after 31 December 2021 for the first time (has no work experience) may not refuse to use EDM, which is already or will be implemented in the employer's company .
How to implement EDM in a company
An employer implements EDM by adopting an appropriate local regulatory document (Part 2, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code). An incoming employee may get acquainted with a local regulatory document on EDM in electronic form (Part 11, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code). It is assumed that employees who work in the company at the time of EDM implementation and have work experience before 31 December 2021 get acquainted with the local regulatory document on EDM in writing. Besides, it is necessary to obtain the written consent to the use of EDM from employees having work experience before 31 December 2021 (Part 5, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code).
A local regulatory document on EDM shall contain the following data (Part 2, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code):
- the data on the information system(s) the employer will use to carry out electronic document management;
- the procedure for accessing the employer's information system (if necessary); the list of electronic documents and the list of groups of employees in whose relation electronic document management is implemented;
- the period for notifying employees about switching to interaction with the employer through electronic document management, as well as information on the date of electronic document management introduction, set no earlier than the day of the specified notification expiration.
A local regulatory document on EDM may contain the following data (Part 3, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code):
- the time limits for an employee to sign electronic documents and/or to get acquainted with them, taking into account the employee's working hours, as well as the frequency of such signing and acquainting;
- the procedure for briefing employees on interacting with the employer through electronic document management (if necessary);
- cases in which it is allowed to execute the documents specified in paragraph four of part two of this article on paper;
- the procedures for interacting of the employer with an employee representative body and/or an elected body of the primary trade union organisation and with the labour dispute commission (if necessary).
The list is not exhaustive.
In exceptional cases, in the form of an electronic document or an electronic image of a document (a document on paper, converted into electronic form by scanning or photographing with the retention of its details) followed by submission of the corresponding documents on paper. In this situation, the employer shall also adopt an appropriate local regulatory document which will establish the procedure for exchanging documents for a certain period of time (Part 13, Article 22.3 of the Labour Code).
How to sign documents
The following documents shall be signed with an enhanced qualified electronic signature (EQES) exclusively (Part 1, Article 22.3 of the Labour Code):
- employment agreement and amendments thereto;
- financial liability agreement and amendments thereto;
- apprenticeship agreement and amendments thereto;
- agreement on on-the-job or off-the-job training and amendments thereto;
- order (decree) on imposition of disciplinary sanction;
- notice of changing the employment agreement terms and conditions determined by the parties.
To sign the rest documents, the parties may use both an EQES and other methods making it possible to identify an employee signing the document (Part 5, Article 22.3 of the Labour Code):
- an enhanced non-qualified electronic signature verified in accordance with the procedure agreed upon by the parties to the employment agreement;
- an enhanced non-qualified electronic signature issued with the use of e-government infrastructure;
- a simple electronic signature.
An employer bears the costs for creation and/or operation of the employer's information system, for creation, use and storage of electronic documents (Part 8, Article 22.1 of the Labour Code), as well as obtaining an electronic signature by an employee (in case of its absence) and use thereof (Part 12, Article 22.2 of the Labour Code).1 Federal Law No. 377-FZ dated 22 November 2021 "On Amendments to the Labour Code of the Russian Federation"
2 This provision has been introduced, first of all, in the interests of elderly employees, who, for certain reasons, may be not comfortable using EDM.
3 It is assumed that employees whose work experience begins after 31 December 2021 may be dismissed or refused to hire for refusing to use already implemented EDM or to switch to EDM.