Baker & McKenzie: Supreme Court Ruling on Benefits for Employees Working in Harsh Climatic Conditions and New Rules on Labour Safety

Employees' eligibility for benefits associated with work in the Far North and equivalent regions ("Far North regions") depends on their actual place of work or place of their residence and not where the employing organization is located.

The improvement of working conditions and labour safety and the reduction of occupational hazards are now to be directly regulated by law.

 

 

The Judicial Division for Civil Cases of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has ruled that employers must grant their employees actually working in the Far North regions all established benefits, even if the employing organization itself is located in a region not classed as a region of the Far North.

Implications for the employer

Employers must grant an employee the established benefits associated with work in the Far North if the employee actually works or lives in these regions. If the employee is not granted such benefits he/she may challenge violation of his/her rights in court.

Interpretation of the legislation

In accordance with current legislation, state benefits associated with work in the Far North regions apply to persons who work in organizations located in these regions and persons who live in such regions. If the employer is not located in a Far North region, previously employees were often not granted the state guarantees and compensation associated with work in the Far North regions. The courts interpreted the legislation inconsistently: when employees took cases to court the courts did not always rule in their favour.

Actions to consider

Employers must grant employees actually working in the Far North regions all established benefits, even if the employing organization itself is located in a region not classed as a region of the Far North. Such benefits include increased salary (using regional salary coefficients and percentage increments) and additional paid vacation. The Far North regions include Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok and others.

Conclusion

The position that the granting of guarantees and compensation, associated with work in the Far North regions, is related to the region where the organization is located only and not related to the territory where a person performs his/her employment duties will no longer be applied by the courts.

NEW RULES ON IMPROVEMENT OF WORKING CONDITIONS AND LABOUR SAFETY

Two new terms have been added to the Russian Federation Labour Code, "occupational hazard" and "the management of occupational hazards". A sample list of activities classed as improvement of working conditions and labour safety and reduction of occupational hazards is to be drawn up. The activities on this list and the organizations rendering labour protection services will be directly governed by the law.

Implications for the employer

After the sample list is established employers will no longer be able to claim that they do not have a list of labour safety and protection activities, agreed with their employees. As soon as the sample list is approved employers will be obliged to conduct annual activities for improvement of working conditions and labour safety and reduction of occupational hazards.

What the law says

An occupational hazard is the possible health damage due to the influence of harmful and (or) dangerous production factors during fulfilment by an employee of his/her employment duties under an employment agreement or in other cases established by the Labour Code and other Federal laws. The management of occupational hazards is considered as a combination of activities for the detection, evaluation and reduction of occupational hazards.

Organizations rendering labour protection services are subject to state accreditation and will be subject to monitoring with potential sanctions for wrongdoing such as suspension and revocation of their accreditation.

Actions to consider

As soon as the sample list is established by law, activities for improvement of working conditions and labour safety and the reduction of occupational hazards should be conducted on a yearly basis. These activities should be performed in strict compliance with the sample list.

Conclusion

Employers should conduct annual activities for improvement of working conditions and labour safety and the reduction of occupational hazards. After the sample list is established, it will become clearer how these measures affect businesses in different areas of activity.

Should you have any questions, please contact Igor Makarov at +7 495 787 2700 or Maxim Kalinin at +7 812 303 9000.

Baker & McKenzie

Share/Save