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Employment Contracts Cannot Infringe Employee Rights


The Russian Labor Code detail the basic rights and obligations of workers and employers as concerns employment contracts, working conditions, schedules, etc. More specific commentary regulating relations between the specific organization and employee are contained in the employment contract as well as in the organization’s internal documents (internal labor policies,  collective labor agreement, etc). 

These contracts and documents cannot contain stipulations that infringe on the employee’s rights and guarantees as established by legislation. If such conditions are present, those stipulations hold no legal force.

For example, if an employment contract requires a staff supervisor to work on a non-working public holiday, the Russian Labor Code stipulates that during non-working public holidays, an employee can only be required to work if the job must be performed due to "production and technical conditions," public service requirements, or urgent repairs and/or handling operations. Since a staff supervisor's job does not fall into these categories, the employment contract contradicts current legislation. Therefore, this stipulation is not valid and the employee has just cause not to come to work that day. If the employee is dismissed for skipping work or if a dispute with the employer ensues, the employee can appeal to the courts, which will award the employee compensation not only for any material loss, but also, chances are, for emotional damage.

Labor Discipline

Article 192 of the Russian Labor Code strictly limits disciplinary measures that can be taken against an employee to reprimands, warnings, or dismissals. Federal laws, statutes, and regulations on discipline for specific categories of employees can stipulate other disciplinary measures as well. Disciplinary measures not provided for by federal laws, statutes, or regulations are not allowed. However, some employers attempt to employ disciplinary measures “of their own invention:” fines, loss of bonuses, etc. Such penalties are illegal and the employee has just cause to appeal to the State Labor Inspection or to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The employee can demand compensation for material loss (if he was unduly deprived of a bonus or fined, etc) as well as emotional damage.

Reasonable causes for dismissal are outlined as: repeated violations of working duties without valid cause, receiving multiple disciplinary measures, skipping work or arriving to work in a state of intoxication, and others. However, labor legislation clearly disciplinary measures to be taken:

  1. The employee must provide a written explanation before the disciplinary measure is taken (if the employee refuses, a report is filed);
  2. The employee must be presented with the disciplinary order and must sign it within three working days from the day it was issued (if the employee does not agree to sign it, another report is filed).

If an employee believes his rights have been violated and that illegal disciplinary measures were taken, he can lodge a complaint with the State Labor Inspectorate, the Labor Disputes Commission, or to the  courts, where the lawfulness of the disciplinary measure will be examined. If a disciplinary measure was taken against an employee illegally, the  disciplinary action will be cancelled), and the worker can expect compensation for his emotional damage.

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