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Russian Federation

1. Government provisions impacting businesses / Employer protection responsibilities

Government provisions

The common period of non-working days for the entire country and for all economic sectors ended on 12 May 2020. It had been in effect from 30 March through 11 May 2020. As of 12 May 2020, the highest officials in Russia’s regions (constituent entities) will decide which anti-COVID-19 measures will apply in a given territory and/or region of Russia.

The President of Russia issued a decree to this effect. Titled “On Determining the Procedure for Extending Measures to Ensure the Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare of the Population in Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation due to the Spread of Novel Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19),” Decree No. 316 of 11 May 2020 (“Decree 316”), orders the highest officials of Russian Federation constituent entities:

  • To identify territories where restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may need to be extended
  • To suspend or restrict the activity of certain organizations (of any form of ownership)
  • To set up a special procedure for people and vehicles to travel in those territories

Decree 316 states that “if it is decided to suspend (restrict) the activity of certain organizations in a territory […] the organizations’ employees shall continue to receive their salaries.”

Employer protection responsibilities

Generally, when taking measures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, employers should be guided by laws regulating occupational safety and safe working conditions (including Federal Law No. 52-FZ on Sanitary and Epidemiologic Wellbeing of March 30, 1999 (as amended), and Federal Law No. 68-FZ on Protection of the Public from Natural and Manmade Disasters of December 21, 1994 (as amended).

The particular measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 vary depending on the territory. For example, under the Moscow Mayor’s Decree No. 12-UM of 5 March 2020 (as amended) (the “Moscow Decree”), each and every employer acting on the territory of the city Moscow (whose activity is not temporarily suspended and who continues working) must:

  • Arrange to take the temperatures of all employees and suspend from work those employees who have an elevated temperature;
  • Assist employees in complying with self-isolation;
  • Upon receiving a request from state authorities, provide information on all contacts of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 in connection with their work;
  • Not admit to work places and/or to the employer’s territory those employees who have returned from countries with a COVID-19 outbreak and/or employees ordered by sanitary officers to self-isolate and arrange for disinfection of the relevant premises;
  • Transfer employees who must self-isolate (for example, those 65 or older) to a distant (remote) work arrangement or provide such employees with annual paid vacation.

The question of whether the Moscow Mayor has the authority to issue these kinds of mandatory orders is disputable. Even if the employer deems the measures prescribed by the Moscow Decree to be reasonable and is ready to comply with the measures, employers do not currently have the legal tools to implement these measures (especially regarding suspending employees from work), since Russia’s Labor Code sets out the specific grounds for suspending an employee from work and an employee having a high temperature is not on the list of grounds. However, given the complexity of the situation we believe that the employer’s general obligation is to ensure safe working conditions and to adopt measures protecting employees’ life and health.

2. Returning to work: guidelines and obligations

Layoffs: extensions, recalls and other issues

On 21 March 2020, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin issued employers the following warning: “Dismissals in the present difficult situation must be a measure of last resort. Employers tempted to solve their problems by way of redundancy/staff reduction will be audited by the State Labor Inspectorate, the Federal Tax Service and the Prosecutor’s Office.”

Mr. Mishustin recommended that employers use work arrangements such as remote work and part-time work instead of dismissals. He also stated that the state authorities will verify the payment of salaries and final settlements to employees upon their dismissal.

The Prime Minister’s statement demonstrates that dismissals (in particular, staff reduction) during the spread of COVID-19 are not prohibited by law, but are discouraged by Russia’s state authorities and should result in inspection of the employer’s activities.

Flexible work arrangements

Employees who have a remote work arrangement are entitled to continue working remotely by agreement with the employer, with mandatory compliance with the requirements of the Ministry of Healthcare of Russia and the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) to prevent novel coronavirus infection.

Other types of possible flexible work arrangements like transfer of employees to part-time work require employees’ consent and/or are subject to a complicated bureaucratic procedure.

Restrictions

Decree 316 orders the highest officials in Russia’s regions (constituent entities) to suspend or restrict the activity of certain organizations (of any form of ownership. Cafes, bars and restaurants, fitness centers, beauty salons and bathhouses, retail facilities (other than pharmacies and pharmacy branches, facilities selling food and necessities, medical and ophthalmological products, etc.) and other organizations that citizens are banned from visiting are closed in Moscow.

Workplace health & safety (eg: social distancing measures; personal protective equipment)

In addition to general measures described in the “Employer protection responsibilities” section, starting 12 May 2020, employers in Moscow must:

  1. In addition to individuals required to self-isolate according to the Moscow Decree, not admit to work places and/or to the employer’s territory those employees who have informed the employer that the employee or people living with the employee have certain illnesses (e.g., diabetes), are pregnant or have symptoms of an acute viral respiratory infection or who have been diagnosed by a doctor with an acute viral respiratory infection, novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) or pneumonia.
  2. Ensure personal protective equipment is used as follows and rules complied with:
    • Respiratory personal protective equipment (masks, respirators) is to be used in work places and/or on the employer’s territory unless the employee is in a separate room and no others are present.
    • Personal protective equipment for hands (gloves) is to be used in work places and/or on the employer’s territory when visiting common areas, including elevators, restrooms and lunch rooms, and when there is physical contact with objects used by the public, such as door handles, rails and other objects of that nature.
    • Employees’ temperatures are to be taken in work places and/or on the employer’s territory at least once every four hours with temperatures being taken when employees are admitted to work places and/or the employer’s territory.
    • At least 10 percent of employees are to be tested for novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) between 12 May 2020, and 31 May 2020, at organizations allowed by Russian Federation laws to perform such testing.
    • At least 10 percent of employees are to be tested further to above described requirements every 15 calendar days starting 1 June 2020.
    • Employees are to have blood drawn to perform ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent asset) lab testing for novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) and immunity to the virus according to the procedure and at the times stipulated by the Moscow Health Department.
    • Partitions separating stationary work places are to be installed if social distancing between them is not possible.
    • The guidelines provided by the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (or its local offices) to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) are to be followed.

3. Employment terms adjustment

Job retention and wage subsidy schemes available to employers

Further to Russian COVID-related legislation, a company affected by the COVID-19 crisis may receive government support (in the form of a state subsidy or interest-free loan) provided that:

  1. the company is listed in the Unified Register of small and medium-sized enterprises and
  2. the company’s main activities in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities mean that it is on the list of “most affected sectors of economy” approved by the RF Government.

4. Employee compensation in quarantine / If unable to perform functions / Diagnosed with Covid-19

If employees have to self-quarantine for 14 days, do we have to pay them? Are they entitled to statutory sick pay?

Sick leave allowance is paid to an employee who has returned to Russia from any country and who is obliged to stay home.

A situation not fully regulated by law is how suspension of work should be formalized and paid where an employee who has symptoms of illness and is suspended by the employer from work in line with the Moscow Decree does not obtain a sick leave certificate; in the absence of further instructions and clarifications we assume that the employee’s absence should be treated as stoppage for reasons beyond the employer’s and employee’s control and paid at the rate of 2/3 the employee’s base monthly salary.

How should employers treat employees diagnosed with Covid-19?

Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 must follow doctor’s orders (to stay at home or in a hospital). After recovery they should present the employer a sick leave certificate, which will be paid.

What do we do if someone displays symptoms while at work?

Based on the Moscow Decree, the employer must arrange to take the temperatures of all employees and suspend from work those employees who have an elevated temperature. However, Russia’s Labor Code sets out the specific grounds for suspending an employee from work and an employee having a high temperature is not on the list of grounds; therefore, such suspension from work is dubious from the legal standpoint. However, given the complexity of the situation we believe that the employer’s general obligation is to ensure safe working conditions and to adopt measures protecting employees’ life and health.

5. Employee data privacy

Treating personal data, including health information

General rules (including the employer’s obligation to keep information about employee’s health confidential) must be observed.

Are employers allowed to take employees' temperatures and use personal data to admit employees at work?

Based on the Moscow Decree, those employers that continue working (whose activity is not suspended) must arrange to take the temperatures of all employees and suspend from those employees who have an elevated temperature.

6. Travel protocols

Limitations on people's mobility introduced by the Government

Regular and chartered air travel to foreign countries was halted as of 27 March, other than flights to bring Russian citizens back to Russia from foreign countries and flights made according to some Russian Federation Government decisions.

Managing employees returning from travel to restricted areas

Employees who have returned to Russia from a country with a COVID outbreak must report to the designated hotline and leave their contact information (including the place of actual residence) and comply with sanitary officers’ self-isolation orders. Employees returning from the USA, China, Italy, France, Germany and other countries must stay home for 14 days. A sick leave certificate will be issued to them (without the need to visit a doctor) electronically. If employees have symptoms, they must stay home and request medical assistance (doctors are seeing such individuals at home).

Questions?
Please contact:
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  • Marina Ryzhkova
  • Partner, Moscow
  • D: +7 495 644 0500
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