COVID-19: What employers need to know?

COVID-19: What employers need to know?

01 April 2020

We would like to inform you on the new requirements for employers in Russia given the impact of COVID-19.

Non-working week

According to the Decree of the Russian President dated March 25, 2020, the period from March 30th is a nationwide paid week-off in order to minimize the consequences of COVID-19 in Russia. This measure should help ensure a regime of self-isolation of Russian citizens. In addition, we draw your attention to the fact that the home self-isolation regime is introduced from March 30, 2020 for all residents in Moscow and Moscow region, regardless of age, which shall significantly restrict traffic in the city.

Who will continue to work?

List of companies that continue working during the non-working week:

  • continuously operating organizations (see tips below);

  • medical and pharmacy organizations;

  • organizations providing the citizens with food and essential goods (these also include those organizations that provide warehousing services, transport and logistics services in order to provide the population with food and essential goods and trade organizations);

  • organizations performing emergency work in emergency situations, endangering the life or normal living conditions of the population (these include, in particular, organizations that produce personal protective equipment, disinfectants, medicines, medical devices, heat and television registrars, non-contact thermometers and air disinfection plants; enterprises producing materials, raw materials and components necessary for their production; organizations whose activities are related to the protection of public health and the prevention of the spread of coronavirus infection; organizations in the field of production and consumption waste management; organizations that provide housing and communal services to the population; organizations of petroleum products supply systems; organizations that provide financial services in terms of emergency functions);

  • organizations engaged in emergency repair and urgent loading/uploading works and carry out transport services for the population;

  • Russian Pension Fund and its regional authorities;

  • Social Insurance Fund and its regional authorities;

  • Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund and its regional funds;

  • Public officers and municipal officers as well as media employees shall work upon the employer’s decision.

Which organizations are continuously operating?

The continuously operating organizations are those organizations whose suspension is impossible due to technical reasons. The organization itself determines whether it relates to continuously operating or not. Evidence that the company cannot stop its production cycle is: shift work schedule, as well as actually continuous activity on any non-working days (holidays and weekends), which is confirmed by the timesheet for the previous period.

According to the recommendations of Rostrud (Russian employment authority), continuously operating organizations are organizations in which the suspension of activities on technical reasons is impossible, e.g., the organizations in the field of IT and telecom services, road industry, energy, heat supply, water treatment and sanitation; operating hazardous production facilities and in respect of which there is a permanent state control (supervision) regime in the field of industrial safety; organizations operating hydraulic structures; nuclear industry organizations; construction organizations, the suspension of which will endanger the safety, health and life of people; agricultural organizations engaged in spring field work.

Can the employer oblige employees to work during the non-working week? How to formalize the work during the non-working regime?

  • Employees of continuously operating organizations, as well as organizations listed in the previous paragraphs, automatically continue working during the non-working week in ordinary regime. The company shall formalize its decision to continue the operations in the internal order and provide employees who continue working in the ordinary regime with the written statements that they are allowed to continue working in the ordinary regime.

  • Employees of organizations that are not related to organizations that automatically continue working during the non-working regime cannot be obliged to work during the non-working week, however they can work remotely upon mutual consent.

The employee’s transfer to the remote work during the non-working week shall be formalized by additional (amending) agreement to the existing employment contract. Transfer to the remote work also implies amending the system of control over performance of job duties by employees who work remotely (e.g., amending the requirements for the reporting system, staying online, being accessible, monitoring at workplaces).

Particular attention shall be given to the introduction of measures to ensure protection of commercial secrets and confidential information, which requires formalization by the local policies (local normative acts), internal corporate procedures, and in the additional agreements with employees.

In view of Russian data protection laws, including in cases when employees may use personal equipment for remote work (e.g., computers, cell phones), it is important to introduce respective amendments to existing internal policy on processing of personal data, policies on employees’ monitoring at workplaces, obtain new consents.

According to Rostrud, in view of electronic communications with remote employees, the electronic workflow with such employees shall be formalized by exchanging electronic images of documents, if necessary, followed by their execution in the manner stipulated by the Russian law.

Can the employer engage to work the employees of organizations not related to continuously operating organizations with double payment of salary in accordance with the law?

No, Russian labour laws do not regulate engagement to work during such rest periods as “non-working days”. As noted earlier, the non-working week regime was announced specifically for the purpose of self-isolation of citizens. That means that the engagement of employees of organizations that are not continuously operating and who do not work remotely to the work during the non-working week can be qualified as a violation of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation and Decrees of the Moscow government. This violation may lead to liability for the company and its officials.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Practices: Labour and Employment

Note: Please be aware that all information provided in this letter was taken from open sources. Neither ALRUD Law Firm, nor the author of this letter bear any liability for consequences of any decisions made in reliance upon this information.

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