Federal Law No. 409-FZ on Amendments to the Russian Federation Labor Code and Article 13 of the Federal Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation Relating to the Particulars of Regulating the Labor of Workers Who are Foreign Citizens or Stateless Persons dated December 1, 2014 adds a new chapter to the Russian Federation Labor Code concerning theregulation of labor by foreign workers. The amendments introduced by this law entered into force on December 13, 2014.

The new rules mean that now all foreign workers, except temporarily or permanently resident foreign citizens, must have either: (а) a voluntary medical insurance policy, or (b) an agreement on paid medical services for a foreign employee (for at least health care and specialized urgent medical assistance), concluded by the employer with a medical organization. This requirement that foreign employees be provided with a medical insurance policy or agreement on paid medical services previously only applied to foreign workers working under the highly-qualified specialist procedure.

The question of the term of employment contracts concluded with foreign workers has also finally been settled. An employment contract between a foreign worker and the employer is concluded for an unlimited period, and exceptions to this rule are permitted only on the general grounds (listed in article 59 of the Labor Code). This ends the long-running controversy over the duration of employment contracts for foreigners (previously there were statements in favor of fixed term contracts, including by the competent government agencies).

An important new rule allows, in certain cases, the temporary transfer of a foreign citizen for up to one month to perform work not covered by his/her employment contract for the same employer, irrespective of the profession/specialty/title/field of work stated in the worker's work permit or patent, not more than once per calendar year. Before this amendment, temporary transfers of foreign workers were typically treated as working in a profession/specialty/title/field of work not stated in the work permit, which resulted in administrative penalties.

Equally important, in practical terms, is the ability in certain cases not to terminate employment relations with a foreign employee upon the suspension or expiration of any of the following documents:

  • permit to hire and use foreign workers;
  • work permit;
  • patent;
  • temporary residence permit;
  • permanent residence;
  • voluntary medical insurance agreement (policy) or agreement on paid medical services for a foreign employee.

The suspension or expiration of any of the above documents requires the suspension of the employee from work. This makes it possible to not dismiss the employee when the employee or employer has not managed, for whatever reason, to obtain a new hiring permit, work permit, patent, etc. on time.

Finally, the list of documents foreign workers must present when being hired has been revised and now includes a voluntary medical insurance policy, temporary or permanent residence permit, work permit, and certain other documents. Information on the said documents is to be provided in the employment contract with the foreign worker.