- March 31, 2021
In the spring of 2020, employers urgently had to switch employees to working from home. The Labor Code was not ready for such a large-scale transition of business to remote work: there was no suitable format of work in the legislation. The gaps were fixed by January 1, 2021, when the law on regulating remote work came into effect.
How It Was Before
Last year, the Labor Code did not provide for the situation of temporary remote employment. The Russian Labor Code allowed the concluding of a traditional employment contract or an agreement on remote work on a regular basis, when there is no workplace in the office .
What Was Clarified for 2021
How Does Remote Work Differ From Distance Work
The updated version of the Labor Code has clarified the terms: remote work and distance work are used as synonyms — there are no differences.
What Remote Work Formats Are Available
In addition to fully remote operation, there are 2 new modes:
- “temporary distance (remote) work” assumes that for a certain period of time (but not more than six months) the employee works outside the office.
- “combined distance (remote) work” assumes that the employee works alternately at the workplace in the office and remotely.
New modes of remote work are introduced on the basis of an employment contract, additional agreement to it or a local act of the employer.
Is It Possible to Hire or Fire an Employee Remotely
Even before, there were ways to get hired and fired without going to the employer’s office. The first option was to send paper documents by Russian Post service. The second was to use an electronic digital signature (EDS).
Innovations in the Russian Labor Code make the process easier: it is sufficient to exchange electronic copies of documents without an electronic digital signature. But a copy of the dismissal order must still be sent by mail within three working days.
By the way, it has become more difficult to fire an employee. Previously, it was up to the employer to prescribe in the employment contract the grounds for terminating it. For example, it was possible to write in the contract that termination was by decision of the general director, that is, without any specifics. The updated version of the Russian Labor Code no longer allows this.
But this does not mean that a distant worker can completely relax. In addition to the reasons that existed previously, the law now allows an employee to be dismissed in the following cases:
- if the employee does not respond to work issues for more than two days
- If the employee has moved and can no longer perform his or her previous functions
When It Is Not Necessary to Sign an Additional Agreement With Employees to Transfer Them to Remote Work
In the case of industrial accidents, epidemics and other circumstances specified in the law, a simplified procedure for introducing a temporary remote work regime applies. In such cases there is no need to conclude additional agreements: it is enough to prepare a local normative act and to decide the organizational aspects of working from home (timeframes, schedule, working hours, etc.).
Where a Remote Worker Can Work
It is no longer necessary to specify the employee’s place of work in the employment contract for remote work. It is enough that the employee has the necessary conditions to perform his or her duties (for example, access to the Internet).
Remuneration and Additional Compensation for a Remote Worker
Transferring employees from the office to remote work is not a justification to reduce wages — employers are required to maintain the employees’ wages.
The employer must also provide the remote employee with everything he or she needs to work. A remote employee can be reimbursed for the purchase of a computer, antivirus, electricity, Internet, etc., if it is necessary to perform job duties.
Remote Work on Weekends and Free Time
One of the important innovations is the right of remote workers not to be in touch with the employer 24 hours a day.
The employer pays a remote worker for free time and weekend work on the same terms as regular office workers.
What Happens if You Send a Remote Employee on a Business Trip
This is the same as for office workers: you will need to reimburse expenses and maintain average earnings.