We would like to present the overview of the most important legislation changes in labor law for 2017.

1. Federal Law No. 125-FZ on Amendments to the Russian Federation Labor Code dated June 18, 2017 (“Law No. 125-FZ”) made amendments to the Russian Federation Labor Code (the “RF Labor Code”) concerning part-time work and overtime pay. The amendments touched on the following issues, among others.

Part-time work

Until the amendments were made, Article 93 of the RF Labor Code provided for the ability to set a part-time working day (shift) or part-time working week for an employee. However, the new version of this article expressly provides for the ability to “combine” these options of part-time work by setting a part-time working day (shift) and a part-time working week for the employee. Thus, lawmakers have included in the RF Labor Code the approach used in practice that was historically envisioned by the USSR legislative acts for certain categories of employees.1 Moreover, the new version of Article 93 of the RF Labor Code expressly provides that even with part-time work the employee’s working day can be divided into parts.

In cases where the employer is required to set part-time work (such cases are provided for in Article 93(2) of the RF Labor Code), according to the new rules, part-time work is set for a period convenient for the employee which should not exceed the period of the special circumstances that were the reason for setting part-time work (for example, the period of a pregnancy or the child reaching a certain age). At the same time, the work schedule and rest time, including the duration of daily work (shift), the work start and end times, and the time of breaks from work shall be set according to the employee’s wishes taking into account the employer’s business (working) conditions.

Non-standard working day

A non-standard working day can be set for employees working part-time only in those cases where such employees have a part-time working week and a full-time working day (for example, when the employee works eight hours a day, but, for example, only four days a week).

Break for rest and meals

A long-awaited amendment has been made to the RF Labor Code concerning the rest and meal break for employees with a part-time working day. According to the general rule that was in effect before the amendments, during the working day (shift) any employee should have been given a break for rest and meals lasting not more than two hours and not less than 30 minutes, which was not included in the working time, regardless of the duration of the working day (shift). Such wording caused difficulties when attempting to apply this rule to employees working a part-time working day (for example, who worked four hours a day). Employers wondered whether such employees should also get a rest and meal break lasting at least 30 minutes and whether that break could be moved to the end of the working day. Now the version of Article 108(1) of the RF Labor Code has a new provision in accordance with which the employment policies and procedures or the employment contract could provide that the rest and meal break may not be provided to the employee if the daily work (shift) set for that employee is not more than four hours long.

Overtime pay

A clarification has appeared in Article 152 of the RF Labor Code according to which overtime work on weekends and non-working holidays (paid at a higher rate or compensated for by providing another day of rest) is not counted when determining the duration of overtime work paid at a higher rate. In other words, work on weekends and non-working holidays is not overtime work. We note that this clarification is not new to Russian labor legislation: the rule also existed earlier2; however, Law No. 125-FZ enshrined that norm by incorporating it directly into the RF Labor Code.

Article 153 of the RF Labor Code has now been clarified to state that when employees are made to work on weekends and non-working holidays they are paid at a higher rate for the hours actually worked on the weekend or non-working holiday. If part of a work shift falls on such a day, the hours actually worked on the weekend or non-working holiday (from 0 to 24 hours) are paid at a higher rate.

2. Federal Law No. 86-FZ on Amendments to Article 13 of the Federal Law on Mandatory Social Insurance for Temporary Disability and in connection with Maternity and Articles 59 and 78 of the Federal Law on the Fundamental Principles of Public Health Protection in the Russian Federation dated May 1, 2017 which provided for the introduction of electronic medical disability certificates entered into force on July 1, 2017. Electronic medical disability certificates will be generated with the patient’s consent, certified with an enhanced encrypted and certified digital signature and posted in the electronic system of the RF Social Insurance Fund in the form of an e-document.

3. Federal Law No. 421-FZ on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation with Respect to Increasing the Minimum Wage to the Minimum Subsistence Level of the Able-Bodied Population dated December 28, 2017 set the minimum wage at RUB 9,489 per month as of January 1, 2018.

Starting January 1, 2019 and thereafter annually as of January 1 of the respective year, the minimum wage will be set by federal law at the amount of the minimum subsistence level of the able-bodied population as a whole for the Russian Federation for the second quarter of the preceding year. That said, if the minimum subsistence level of the able-bodied population goes down in preceding years, the minimum wage will remain at the previous level.

4. Federal Law No. 359-FZ on Amendments to Articles 242 and 243 of the Russian Federation Labor Code dated November 27, 2017 made the terminology of the RF Labor Code consistent with the terminology of the Russian Federation Administrative Offenses Code (the “RF Administrative Offenses Code”) by replacing the term “administrative infraction” (prostupok) with the term “administrative offense” (pravonarushenie).

Previously articles 242 and 243 of the RF Labor Code provided full material liability of the employee for damage caused to the employer, including if damage was caused as a result of an “administrative infraction.” As there was no such term as “administrative infraction” in the RF Administrative Offenses Code, employers interpreted this difference in terms as an opportunity to more broadly apply the rule on full material liability of the employee, for example, in a situation where a competent authority found that the employee was guilty of committing an unlawful act which, however, did not constitute an administrative offense provided for by the RF Administrative Offenses Code. Now both the RF Labor Code and the RF Administrative Offenses Code use the same term, “administrative offense,” and such a broad interpretation is not possible.

5. Federal Law No. 238-FZ on Independent Assessment of Qualifications dated July 3, 2016 (the “Law on Independent Assessment of Qualifications”) entered into force on January 1, 2017. This law governs relations arising when an independent assessment is done of the qualifications of employees or applicants for a certain type of employment. Independent assessment of qualifications is done in the form of a professional examination at the initiative of the applicant, other individuals and/or legal entities or according to the employer’s referral.

Due to the adoption of the Law on Independent Appraisal of Qualifications, amendments have been made to the RF Labor Code,3 providing, inter alia, that the employer may refer an employee to undergo an independent assessment of qualifications with the employee's consent. The employee keeps his or her job and average salary while the employee is away from work undergoing the independent assessment of qualifications, and if the employee is sent to undergo the independent assessment of qualifications to another location, travel expenses are paid according to the procedure and in the amounts envisioned for individuals sent on business trips.

6. RF Government Resolution No. 470 on Amendments to Russian Federation Government Resolution No. 841 of November 2, 2000 dated April 19, 2017 set forth additional civil defense duties of employers. In particular, since May 2, 2017, all employers must (i) develop a program of civil defense introductory briefing; (ii) organize and hold it with employees within their first month of work; (iii) plan and hold civil defense exercises and drills

7. Federal Law No. 502-FZ on Amendments to Article 360 of the Russian Federation Labor Code dated December 31, 2017 set forth an additional ground for the federal labor inspectorate to conduct an unscheduled inspection of the employer: the federal labor inspectorate receiving requests, statements or information about incidents (i) of avoiding the execution of an employment contract, (ii) improper execution of an employment contract or (iii) conclusion of a civil-law contract actually governing an employment relationship between an employee and an employer.