On December 8, 2020, Vladimir Putin signed a law amending the Labor Code of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – the “Law” and the “RF LC” accordingly). The document provides for the new regulation of distant employees’ work and introduces the new term “remote work”, which is synonymous with the currently established “distant work” in the RF LC. The new regulation will take effect on January 1, 2021.
The main changes that employers need to take into account.
Permanent and temporary remote work
The Law provides for several types of remote work:
- Permanent remote work during the term of the employment agreement;
- Temporary continuous remote work for a period not exceeding 6 months;
- Alternation of work remotely and in the office.
Procedure for communication of the parties
The employee and the employer will be able to interact in any way that allows recording receipt of electronic documents. The procedure for exchange of documents and information will need to be fixed in local regulations, bargaining agreement, or employment agreement and addendums thereto.
The exception from the general rule includes a number of cases when the parties should use the encrypted digital signature for remote interaction, namely at the conclusion, amendment, or termination in electronic form of the following documents:
- Employment agreement;
- Addendums thereto;
- Financial liability agreement;
- Apprenticeship agreement.
At the moment, for an exchange of electronic documents the parties generally should use the encrypted digital signature.
Peculiarities of labor organization
According to the Law, the employer must provide the basic conditions of work in the employment agreement (and addendum thereto), bargaining agreement, or local regulations, for example:
- Working hours;
- The duration of remote work (in case of temporary transfer to remote work);
- The procedure of submitting the results of work and the reports thereon by the employee to the employer at the employer’s request;
- The conditions and procedure for calling a temporary remote employee to the office;
- The procedure for granting vacation to a permanent remote employee.
In addition, the Law determines that the time of interaction between the remote employee and the employer must be included in the working hours.
Dismissal of a remote employee
The Law establishes additional grounds for termination of the employment agreement. From 2021, a remote employee may be dismissed if:
- He/she does not contact the employer without a valid reason for more than 2 working days in a row (the employer may establish a longer period);
- A permanent remote employee has moved to another area and due to this fact he/she cannot work under the previous conditions.
At the same time, now the RF LC will not provide for the possibility to set additional grounds for dismissal in an employment agreement.
Exceptional cases of employees’ transfer to remote work at the employer’s initiative (without an employee’s consent)
The employer may, on its own initiative, temporarily transfer employees to remote work if:
- State or local government bodies have made a relevant decision;
- The life or normal living conditions of the population or part of it are at risk (e.g., in case of epidemic).
At the same time, the employer should not obtain an employee’s consent to such a transfer. It will only be sufficient to adopt an internal regulation and fix the reason for the transfer, the period of transfer, the list of employees to be transferred, the procedure for organizing work and providing equipment, and other features of temporary remote work.
Additional grounds for declaring idle time
If the specific nature of the work of an employer does not allow for the temporary transfer of employees to remote work, when required by Law, such employer must pay for the time while the employee is unable to perform his/her duties as idle time for reasons beyond the control of the parties (at least two-thirds of the tariff rate (base salary)).
How can SCHNEIDER GROUP help?
We recommend that your business be checked for compliance with new labor law requirements, as well as that you make the necessary changes to your employees’ employment agreements and adopt a local regulation on remote work. SCHNEIDER GROUP legal specialists will be happy to audit internal documents of your company and provide you with support on these issues.