Russia: A Guide to Prevent Collapse During Coronavirus

We have gathered information on what measures you can take as an employer in Russia to help preserve your employees while keeping your business intact. As more information comes in, we will update this post.

If you have any questions on the impact of Coronavirus on labor laws, visit our LinkedIn AMA post and leave us your questions in the comment section and we will reply.

[AMA] Impact of Coronavirus on Labor Laws

Updated: March 30, 2020 

Salary decrease- If the employer would like to decrease their employee’s salary, there must be grounds for the decrease.  Reasons can include a decrease in working hours, change in position, or less responsibilities than what is outlined in their employment contract.  However, there must be mutual consent between the employee and employer before any changes to the salary is made.

It is also important to note that any breach of the employees’ rights can cause severe backlash for the company, and and change to the employer contract should be done with great caution.

Updated: March 26, 2020 

Russia has announced holiday from March 30th- April 5th

The Federal Tax Service is deferring payments of taxes and social contributions for payments due May 1, 2020 for tourism, air transport, and cultural industries.

Moscow– All persons over the age of 65 have been ordered to stay in self-isolation until April 14, 2020.  However, this does not apply to employees that hold positions considered crucial to the function of an organization.  

Employees over the age of 65 and are in isolation are entilted to temporary disability benefits.  There is no need for them to receive a medical certificate during the duration of this time in order for them to receive the benefit.  Each person will receive a one time payment of 2,000 RUB  within the first 3 days of the self-isolation period and an additional 2,000 RUB at the end of the period (unless they have been found to be in breach of the order). As of now, there is no date of when the second payment will be made, however, it will take place after April 14, 2020.

Employers are ordered to keep employees over the age of 65 away from the work place and must allow the employee to work from home. If this is not possible, the employer must provide the employee with paid leave.  However, the employer must have the consent of the employee before placing them on paid leave.

Employer and Employee Rights & Obligations Q&A

Source: Baker McKenzie

1. Are employees obliged to disclose themselves as a “risk-factor” to the employer?

  • Under the Russian Labor Code employees must inform the employer without delay of the emergence of a situation presenting a hazard to the life and health of people. Thus, they should disclose themselves as a “risk-factor” to the employer.
  • For Moscow: as of 5 March 2020 all employees who return from states who display possible “unfavorable” signs of COVID-19 (China, the Republic of Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Norway, the USA) must report to the Moscow city hotline (+7 495 870 45 09) and must self-isolate themselves at home for 14 days. Thus employees should disclose themselves as a “risk-factor” to the employer in order to self-isolate at home.
  • Comments for Moscow are based on the Mayor of Moscow Decree dated 5 March 2020 #12 UM On Introduction of High Alert Regime.
  • In this Decree, only 7 “unfavourable for COVID-19” countries are referred to directly: China, the Republic of Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Spain and Germany, alongside the reference to a certain list of other countries to be approved by the Moscow Department of Rospotrebnadzor (a Government agency supervising the protection of consumer rights and human welfare, including epidemiological safety). As of now, we cannot find the original list of countries falling under the above Decree, but see different references to it on sites of mass media. The recent publications show that Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA were excluded from this list, leaving only the countries directly named in the above Decree.

2. Can the employer demand employees to disclose themselves as being a “risk-factor”?

  • The employer’s right to ask certain questions has as counterpart the employees’ obligation to disclose the corresponding information (i.e., the employer has the right to ask for the circumstances specified as per question no. 1 and the employee has to provide the corresponding and truthful answer).

3. Can the employer issue an instruction (or a policy) requiring employees to report co-workers with flu symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pain in the muscles, tiredness) to the employer?

  • Yes, the employer can develop and issue a local policy setting out provisional rules of Internal Labor Regulations that would be effective during the period of COVID-19 threat. In this policy, the employer can impose rules that are not directly regulated by statutes, but may be recognized as reasonable and reflect the employer’s general obligation to provide safe work conditions. These rules could include the obligation to report contacts with potential virus vectors and visitors to virus-hit regions, to abstain from reporting at workplace when feeling unwell, to switch to work from home and other rules.

4. Can employees refuse to come to work?

  • Employees may refuse to come to work if they have justified reasons for absence, e.g., they have applied for medical assistance from a medical institution and obtained a sick leave certificate.
  • For Moscow: Employees must not appear at work for 14 days if they returned from states which display possible “unfavorable” signs of COVID-19. If they need a sick leave certificate they may apply to a hotline of Moscow Department of Health and request for a sick leave certificate stating that they have recently returned from states which display possible “unfavorable” signs of COVID-19. In this case, a medical specialist will deliver them their sick-leave certificate at home.

5. Can employees refuse to attend meetings or to travel? 

  • The employer is obliged to ensure safe working conditions and labor protection for its employees. employees may refuse to attend meetings if the working conditions in said place impose direct danger on the employees’ life or health.
  • Same rule applies for business travels.
  • For Moscow: Employees must stay at home for 14 days and refuse to attend business meetings or go on business travels if they returned from states which display possible “unfavorable” signs of COVID-19. Such employees can prove their work incapacity by sick-leave certificates that they can get at the airport or at home without going to medical institutions.

6. Can employer send employees on garden leave? 

  • If an employee qualifies as a “risk factor” based on the criteria set out in the response to question no. 1, the employer is obliged to lock out the employee.
  • For Moscow: Employers operating in Moscow must suspend employees from the workplace if they have elevated temperature. employers must ensure self-isolation of employees who returned from states which display possible “unfavorable” signs of COVID-19.

7. When is the employer forced to shut down its operations?

  • There are no specific requirements regarding the employer’s obligation to shut down its operations. However, the employer may suspend work due to economic, technological, technical or organizational causes.

8. Does the employer have the obligation to report infections occurring in the business to the health authorities?

  • For Moscow: Upon receipt of a request from the Russian Federal Service for Consumer Rights and Human Wellfare Protection (“Rospotrebnadzor”) employers operating in Moscow must immediately provide information on all work contacts of employees suffering from COVID-19.

9. Can the employer require an employee to see a doctor? 

  • The employer can request only certain categories of employees to undergo mandatory preliminary and periodic medical examinations. In other cases, the employer can only recommend that employees see a doctor but employees are not obliged to undergo such medical examination.
  • For Moscow: Employees must seek medical help at home without going to any medical institutions if they have respiratory symptoms.

10. If employees are sent on garden leave or refuse to come to work or if an operation is being shut down, do the employees still need to be paid?

  • In case of a legitimate lock out, suspension from working place or shut down, employees would need to be paid.

11. If kindergartens and schools are being closed and employees need to stay home and cannot work, does the employer need to pay them and – if so – for how long?

  • In the absence of statutes providing otherwise, no. Under current rules and practices, such situations are considered valid grounds for employees to request additional unpaid leaves, or to urgently use their annual paid leave entitlement, rather than to claim compensation.