The amendments to the procedure for employers to apply professional standards (the “Professional Standards”) will take effect on 1 July 2016, as provided under Federal Law No. 122-FZ dated 2 May 2015 (the “Law”). In accordance with the Law and certain clarifications of the Russian Ministry of Labour and Social Development (here in Russian), the Professional Standards will generally be of an advisory nature. Employers will be required to apply the standards only in cases expressly provided for by the applicable law.

The Professional Standards mean the qualification required from an employee to carry out a certain type of occupational activity. The standards are mainly set up for employers to use when they formulate their HR policies, organise employee trainings and appraisals, prepare job descriptions, and set salary and remuneration systems. The existing Professional Standards register is located on the official website of the Russian Ministry of Labour and Social Development (here in Russian).

The application of the Professional Standards will only be mandatory in the following cases:

  • if in accordance with the Russian Labour Code (the “Labour Code”) or other federal laws, a relevant employee’s position, profession or area of expertise implies providing such employee with certain compensations or allowances, or applying certain work restrictions. An example is when an employer is required to apply the relevant Professional Standards to a position and qualification criteria in relation to any work entitling employees to preferential pension benefits or other statutory benefits and compensations; and
  • if the Labour Code or other Russian regulations provide that an employee holding a particular position must meet certain qualification criteria. For instance, the Labour Code requires that an occupational safety specialist of an entity which has over 50 employees must be duly trained and have the relevant experience. This requirement will trigger the mandatory application of the Professional Standard on “Occupational Safety Specialists”.

In other cases where an employee’s position or area of expertise does not give rise to any statutory benefits, compensations, restrictions or qualification criteria, the Professional Standard for such position or area of expertise will only have an advisory effect.

The Professional Standards do not therefore override the Uniform Reference Book for Managerial, Professional and Employee Positions (the “URB”), as well as the Uniform Wage-rate Reference Book for Jobs and Non-professional Occupations (the “UWRB”). Both the URB and UWRB remain in effect on a par with the Professional Standards. If any position or qualification criteria under the URB, UWRB and Professional Standards differ, the employer is free to decide which of these documents to apply.

Where the application of the Professional Standards is mandatory, employers will have to amend their employees’ employment contracts and/or job descriptions accordingly. The amendments may be made either with the employees’ consent or without such consent provided that they are caused by a change in the organisational or technological working conditions as prescribed by Article 74 of the Labour Code. Employees may not be dismissed for failing to meet any mandatory qualification criteria. If an employee lacks the required qualification or work experience, the employer may in specific cases appraise such employee’s suitability to the job position.

If an employer does not apply a mandatory Professional Standard, the company and/or its officers may be subject to administrative liability pursuant to Article 5.27 of the Russian Code on Administrative Offences.

Employers should therefore before the Law goes into force:

  • analyse the types of positions in their organisations;
  • identify the positions that require mandatory application of Professional Standards;
  • amend their HR documents accordingly; and
  • appraise employees who fail to meet the mandatory qualification criteria under the relevant Professional Standard.