State Duma on Friday approved in the second reading, the bill “On Employment in the Russian Federation” prepared by parliamentarians, which should replace a document with the same name, adopted back in 1991 and which has lost its relevance, despite many changes previously made to it. The new document clarifies a number of basic concepts for the world of work, strengthens the protection of the unemployed and offers tools to combat illegal employment. At the same time, according to employers, it creates an additional administrative burden on business. At the same time, trade unions are dissatisfied with the amount of social guarantees for workers, in particular the lack of regulations on unemployment insurance.
The new version adopted by the State Duma in the second reading employment law population defines the basic provisions for the Russian labor market, gives new definitions of key concepts for this area (in particular, the concepts of “employed citizens”, “citizens seeking work for the first time”, “profiling of citizens seeking work”, “profiling of employers” are clarified), and also introduces a number of new regulations aimed at supporting both the employed and the unemployed.
The bill was submitted for consideration in January of this year by a group of deputies led by the speakers of both chambers of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin and Valentina Matvienko. The draft was approved in the first reading in March. Then both trade unions and employers were dissatisfied with its text, since chapters describing truly new phenomena in the labor market – platform employment and work for Russian companies from abroad were removed from the project (see. “Kommersant” from March 16). The authors of the project promised to adopt these controversial norms separately, enshrining them later in “companion” laws.
By the second reading of the bill, the working group received about 300 amendments – from deputies, associations of employers and trade unions. As a result, a noticeable transformation occurred with the provisions describing the procedure for obtaining unemployed status and the benefits that come with it.
According to the bill, unemployed are citizens who are looking for work, are registered with the employment service and are ready to start work.
The decision to recognize a citizen as unemployed will be made at the place of registration within 11 days from the date of filing the application – but only if he agrees on the proposed individual plan for promoting employment, drawn up on the basis of the results of profiling. Applicants will be able to obtain unemployed status if employment authorities fail to provide them with “suitable work” within ten days of registration.
The document proposes to maintain the current level of unemployment benefits (maximum – 12 thousand rubles per month, minimum – 1.5 thousand rubles), but at the same time establishes the government’s obligation to index it annually to the level of inflation. The right to determine the indexation coefficient remains with the government.
Also, during the second reading, a new chapter appeared in the draft – on combating illegal employment. It is proposed to understand the implementation of labor activity in violation of the procedure for formalizing labor relations established by law. According to the authors of the project, its identification will have to be carried out by specialized interdepartmental commissions in the regions – the specific procedure for their work and the powers of the “shadow fighters” have yet to be determined by the government.
Executive Director of Opora Russia Andrei Shubin believes that although the new version of the law is not as different from the old one as one might expect, the changes included in it improve the situation of workers.
“For example, the requirements for employers regarding the employment of people with disabilities are being tightened. Companies with more than 35 employees must necessarily offer disabled people a workplace in the office or in production and registration only within the framework of an employment contract,” says Andrey Shubin. According to him, now small and medium-sized businesses will be forced to submit more reports to employment authorities, including data that is already submitted to other supervisory authorities, such as information on liquidation and bankruptcy.
However, the chairman of the executive committee of the Confederation of Labor of Russia, Igor Kovalchuk, believes that it is quite strange to seriously talk about strengthening the position of workers in a situation where the amount of unemployment benefits offered to them allows them to “only pay for travel to the employment authorities to recognize themselves as unemployed.” “A serious step would be to introduce an unemployment insurance mechanism,” notes a trade union representative. In addition, according to him, although legislators promised to begin work on the necessary “companion” laws in the spring, so far none of the parties to the social partnership have seen versions of these documents. “Meanwhile, regulation does not stand still, and some of the standards will simply hang in the air from 2024, since they have already been removed from the employment law, but have not yet been included in any other document,” says Igor Kovalchuk.