The authorities have exacerbated the “remote” draft law and robbed the Russians of the “right to offline”

The State Duma adopted in the second reading the bill on remote work, submitted for consideration in June 2020, and during this time has changed greatly not in favor of workers. They were deprived of the right to be offline all day long, that is, not to answer calls and messages from the employer on free days, the possibility of a complete transition to remote work.

09:46 GMT, Thursday, November 26, 2020

The bill Contaminated

In the second reading, the State Duma of Russia approved a bill governing remote work with changes to labour laws. By the time of the second reading, the language introduced in the first reading had undergone very substantial changes, primarily in favour of the boss, who had now offered a broader variety of explanations for firing an employee.

Furthermore, workers were stripped of their “right to offline” – the ability to not reach the boss outside working hours for days. They are no longer entitled to work remotely on an ongoing basis at the same time – they will certainly have to alternate between home and office work.

The bill was drawn up by a committee of deputies and senators led by Valentina Matvienko, Speaker of the Federation Council, and Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, with the participation of Sergei Neverov, chief of the United Russia contingent in the State Duma, and Andrei Klishas, one of the co-authors of the Sovereign Runet Act, which entered into force in November 2019,

The proposed amendments would come into effect on January 1, 2021, following the passage of the resolution. But the third reading in the State Duma, set for 26 November 2020, must also be passed and the consent of the Federation Council and the signature of Russian President Vladimir Putin must be secured.

No right to offline access

The latest version of the bill has excluded the word “right to offline” This meant that the worker did not get in contact all day with the boss. The reforms leave workers without such a privilege, but so far this does not mean that at any point employers would be free to call subordinates – the draft legislation also maintains the clause that working hours constitute the time of contact between an individual and an employer.

In the draft legislation, the very idea of “working time” is defined in the same manner as in the Labor Code – this is the time that a remote worker communicates with his boss, and it must be compensated for. When the contact goes past this time, overtime, which is often written out in the Labour Code, must be charged as overtime.

According to the current edition of the bill, working hours for remote work must be spelled out either in the company’s labor agreement or in the job arrangement with each individual employee, or in an additional clause thereof.

It is unlikely for forced deletion, but there is a nuance

The movement of an employee from home to work may be carried out in the manner prescribed by the contract of employment or by an additional arrangement. This ensures that without his permission, the boss would not have the right to move the employee to remote jobs.

There is only one exception: forced relocation to remote work is permissible if it is caused by natural or man-made disasters, industrial accidents, industrial accidents, fires, floods and other unusual circumstances which threaten citizens’ lives or normal living conditions. The coronavirus pandemic may potentially be listed as a natural catastrophe.
Constant remote job may be overlooked,

The Matvienko and Volodin bill introduced in the second reading, forbids jobs from leaving for remote permanent work. The document specifies that for a period of six months, he has the freedom to work from home, after which he will have to report to the workplace.

Around the same time, the boss will again be free to send workers to work from home, although it is important to meet the mandatory requirement of alternating remote work with office work. Around the same time, in order to be able to return to a distant area again the document does not state how many minutes, hours, days, months or years a person must work from the workplace.

Dismissals, salary and benefits.

The existing version of the draft legislation provides for the employer’s right to cancel the employee’s remote job contract in the event that the employer has not been in contact for more than two days in a row without a compelling cause. At the same time, the forms of legitimate motives are not prescribed in the bill, and this opens up a large scope for exploitation, as the head of the legal department of the Confederation of Labor of Russia, Oleg Babich, told RBC. The reasons why the employee did not get in contact could in his view, be somewhat different.

The updated edition of the contract deprives the contractor of the right to regard the relocation to remote jobs as a justification for lowering the pay of the employee. In other words, the employee would have the right to file a lawsuit with the labor inspectorate if a particular case happens.

If the transition to remote employment is not feasible regardless of the specifics of the occupation, the employer must declare a straightforward one and pay at least 2/3 of the salaries to the workers. Failure to comply with these regulations will also become a cause for the labor inspection to be notified.

Supplementary fees to “remote workers”

The bill provides for the employer’s duty to pay compensation to the remote worker for the use of facilities and services, including anti-virus software, owned or leased by him.

Furthermore the contractor would be forced to compensate teleworkers for expenditures related to teleworking and the usage of facilities. This group includes but is not limited to the cost of electricity. In the draft legislation, the amount of reimbursement is not specified.

Despite the fact that these provisions of the draft legislation are good for workers, they include some gaps specifically for employers. O.E. Nikita Lyutov Kutafina, head of the Department of Labour Law and Social Security Law, Moscow State Law Academy, told RBC that the latest edition of the manual would not mention a thing about remote job premises. “If an employee’s housing does not allow him to fully perform work remotely, for example, he simply does not have a separate room for this he is in an extremely vulnerable position,” he said.