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In the third reading, the State Duma introduced the rule of remote function. The legislation clarifies the key and most divisive characteristics of “remote work”: the remote mode transition process, the specifics of work, rest and reimbursement for “remote workers” expenses.
11:14 GMT, Friday, November 27, 2020
Mobile working and its forms
On 26 November 2020, the State Duma approved a bill on the characteristics of remote work in its third reading. Remote work will now be, according to the legislation, not only permanent, but also intermittent (for a duration not exceeding six months), as well as seasonal, which means a combined mode. In addition, by moving the employee to ‘remote’, the boss does not have the ability to cut an employee’s pay, but may terminate an employee if he has not been approached for two or three days. The Act is due to come into effect on 1 January 2021.
The bill further clarifies the teleworker and teleworking definitions. Remote workers are those who have entered into a contract of employment for teleworking or an extra contract of employment, as well as staff who carry out their jobs remotely in compliance with the local legislation introduced by the employer. Teleworkers are remotely subject to labour laws and other legislation involving labor law standards over the time of their employment, taking into account the specifics defined by the new law.
According to the law, remote or remote work involves the execution by an employee of a job role in compliance with a contract of employment through the Internet or by public relations networks outside the place of employment of the employer, its division, its representative office, any other independent structural entity, outside the stationary workplace, territory or facility directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of the employer.
The regulation determines explicitly what temporary teleworking is. This is a mode of work which provides for the temporary performance of the labor role of an employee who works outside a stationary workplace under the supervision of the employer on the basis of an employment contract.
An arrangement of the parties which form the basis for the implementation of such a regime, but the law also specifies circumstances which allow for forcible transition to ‘remote control’ without the employee’s consent. An economic necessity, a natural or man-made catastrophe, an industrial tragedy, an accident and other extraordinary incidents, for instance, as well as federal or municipal government directives.
In the case of an employee being forcefully relocated to a “remote job,” the company must supply him with all he wants for work or pay for the costs. If the boss does not move the employee to “remote work” on his own request, so the period at which the worker does not work is called idle time. This will happen if the worker is unable to conduct the tasks stated in his employment contract electronically, or if the employer is unable to supply the worker outside the stationary position with anything required for his job. According to the Labour Code, two-thirds of the pay rate would be paid by employers at this time, although a higher wage can still be compensated for by a contractual arbitration, agreement or state legislative act.
An employment contract for telecommunications and arrangements to amend the terms of the telecommunications contract as agreed by the parties can be reached by the exchange of electronic records. The place of employment of the contractor shall be indicated as the place of termination of a contract of employment for telecommuting or of arrangements involving changing working conditions.
The statute also proposes that an employment contract with a remote employee be negotiated and terminated, and that an agreement on the responsibility of those workers be signed using an electronic digital signature. In this case, a paper workbook should be entered with information about the recruiting.
Providing a PC and allowances for costs to an employee
Now the employer will supply the employee with the appropriate equipment while temporarily going to a “remote” job, and if the employee needs his equipment, he will pay him for the expenditures in the manner and sum permitted by the local act.
Payment for business trips for teleworkers is also provided.
The employee has the right to use his personal equipment, software and hardware tools, information security tools within the framework of remote work. The labor contract on teleworking may establish an additional condition on the obligation of a teleworker to use equipment, software and hardware, information security tools and other means provided or recommended by the employer when performing his labor function under the labor contract on teleworking.
Work and rest hours
The clause giving workers the right to offline was one of the most controversial throughout the entire time the law was finalized. However, in the final version of the document, it is established that the employee’s working time, as well as its frequency and duration (in case of temporary work), must be determined by one of the following documents: a collective agreement, a local regulatory act, an employment contract, an additional agreement to an employment contract.
If all this is not documented, then the working hours of the remote employee are established at his discretion. Moreover, the time of interaction of a remote worker with an employer is included in working hours.
On this occasion, one of the authors of the bill, the first deputy head of the United Russia faction, Andrei Isaev, gave additional explanations to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, saying that the rule on the inviolability of rest time is already in the Labor Code. Isaev stressed that violation of this norm or “the right to offline” is regarded as overtime work. It can only take place with the written consent of the employee and is paid accordingly. According to the law, the first two hours are paid in one and a half amount, then – in double the amount. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that each employee’s overtime work is accurately recorded.
Monitoring the implementation of the law
As RIA Novosti writes, at the same time the State Duma adopted a draft resolution proposing to monitor the implementation of the law. Andrey Isaev proposed to prepare a new, second package of amendments to labor legislation aimed at protecting the rights and interests of workers, resolving a number of controversial issues, such as irregular working hours.
In addition, as noted by the deputy, on March 31, 2021, an experiment on electronic document management will be completed, which will also require further amendments to the legislation.
Recall that the bill on the regulation of teleworking was adopted by the State Duma in the first reading on July 21, 2020. Its authors were, among other things, the leader of the United Russia faction in the State Duma Sergei Neverov , Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko , and Senator Andrei Klishas .