On December 8th, 2020, The President of the Russian Federation signed the Federal Law, introducing the new rules for remote work (hereinafter the “Law”). This Law will come into force from January 1st 2021. Here is a brief summary of new rules:
i. New types of temporary remote work
In accordance with current labour legislation, an employee and employer can conclude a remote employment contract only on a permanent basis. Moreover, a combination of work regimes, remotely and from office, is not provided.The new Law establishes two types of temporary remote working regime:
- Conditional remote work (up to 6 months);
- Period remote work.
ii. Temporary transfer to remote work
Generally, remote work is introduced by an employment contract, or additional agreement to the employment contract.However, in exceptional cases (such as workplace accident, fire, epidemic, etc.) an employer may transfer, temporarily, an employee to a remote working regime, without his/her consent. In this way, an employer must record this transfer by local normative act, which should include:
- Grounds of temporary transfer;
- List of employees;
- Duration of temporary transfer (no longer than the duration of reason for transferring);
- Order to provide necessary means for fulfilling employee’s work duties, or reimbursement for using employee’s equipment and other expenses;
- Order of work organization: i) working time regime; ii) methods of communication; iii) ways and terms of transfer of required reports on work.
After the expiration of the term of temporary transfer, an employer is obliged to provide the employee with work at the office and an employee has to return to the office workplace.
If a temporary transfer is not possible, owing to specific nature of work, or in case an employer cannot provide the necessary equipment, a period while an employee is not fulfilling his/her duties will be recorded and will be paid as a work stoppage, owing to circumstances beyond the control of the parties.
iii. Work conditions
- The working regime is determined by local acts, or otherwise, at the employee’s discretion;
- An employee’s salary cannot be reduced, owing to the remote working regime;
- Communication time is included in working time;
- All equipment for work shall be provided by the employer; if the employee uses his/her means, all expenses must be subject to reimbursement by the employer;
- If the employer sends an employee to another region, it will be paid as a business trip.
iv. Communication between employer and employee
At present, the communication is based on using enhanced qualified electronic signatures. However, as new rules will take effect, a procedure and a form of communication will be specified by internal acts, or employment contracts.
But in case of conclusion, amendment or termination of following contracts, an employer should use an enhanced qualified electronic signature and an employee signs by enhanced electronic signature:
- Employment contract and additional agreement to the employment contract;
- Contract of material liability;
- Training contract.
Moreover, parties of employment relationship must confirm that electronic documents have been received. The term of such approval is determined on local bases.
v. New grounds for dismissal
Currently, an employer can establish additional grounds for dismissal within the employment contract. In accordance with the new Law, it will not be possible, but new additional grounds for dismissal are prescribed:
- Non-communication, without a justifiable reason, for two consecutive workdays following the employer’s request;
- Relocation to another geographical area with no chance to continue fulfilment of job duties (this option is possible only for permanent remote employees).
Considering the above-mentioned changes, it is advisable to:
- Review current additional agreement to employment contracts and employment contracts (if any) in relation to the terms of remote work in case there are any inconsistencies with the coming into force legislation and update them before or in January 2021;
- Review and update remote employment contract templates (if any);
- Revise the Internal Regulations in order to establish and regulate various procedures of remote employment;
- Develop health & safety instructions for use of company equipment provided to remote employees (if any);
- Develop policy template for emergency temporary transfer to the remote work without employee’s consent in special cases;
- Establish procedures of document execution and interaction with remote employees, as well as the types of used signatures.