Government can now regulate labor relations bypassing the Labor Code

2020-06-01

The State Duma allowed the Government of the Russian Federation to change labor relations without amending the Labor Code of the Russian Federation. The corresponding bill was adopted in the third reading as part of the work on the third “anti-virus” package of laws.

The Labour Code
The Labour Code

The adopted law makes it possible “to establish the specifics of the legal regulation of labor relations and other relations directly related to them, taking into account the opinion of the Russian tripartite commission for the regulation of social and labor relations”.

We are talking about such standards as the duration of the working day, fixed-term contracts, overtime work, explained at a meeting of the State Duma, deputy Oleg Shein. Now the government will be able to correct these norms without coordination with the main labour legislation, as well as adopt resolutions directly contradicting it, which was previously not allowed at the legislative level. This provision will be valid until the end of this year.

The law was adopted by the State Duma during the flaring crisis in the economy. Many citizens have already lost their jobs; salaries are being cut everywhere. Against this background, the opportunity given to the government to ignore the Labor Code of the Russian Federation does not resemble an attempt to protect the interests of workers. On the contrary, this decision gives greater freedom of maneuver for employers in their attempts to solve their problems at the expense of employees.

The law adopted by the State Duma is commented by Oleg Babich, head of the legal department of the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR), member of the Central Committee of the ROT FRONT party:

The adopted federal law gives the Government of the Russian Federation the right to independently, although taking into account the opinion of the Russian tripartite commission for the regulation of social and labor relations, establish the specifics of legal regulation of labor relations and other relations directly connected to them. This provision will be valid until December 31, 2020.

Initially, the draft law did not imply the participation of the RTK in the process, but during its discussion, due to the explicit disapproval of the trade unions, the Government made some concession, which expressed itself in the need to preliminary discuss the “features” within the framework of the RTK with the unions and employers.

When the draft law was discussed in the RTK, representatives of the Russian Confederation of Labor spoke out strongly against its adoption, since it contradicts the basic principles of labor relations regulation enshrined in the Labor Code of the Russian Federation. In particular, article 5 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation states that labor law standards contained in other federal laws must comply with this Code. In the event of a conflict between this Code and another federal law containing labor law, this Code shall apply. If a newly adopted federal law containing labor law norms is contrary to this Code, then this federal law shall apply subject to the introduction of appropriate amendments to this Code.

The Labor Code of the Russian Federation in article 252 determines that the specifics of the regulation of labor relations are established by labor legislation and other regulatory legal acts containing labor law, collective agreements, agreements, local regulatory acts. Moreover, the features of labor regulation, which entail a decrease in the level of guarantees to employees, restriction of their rights, increase of their disciplinary and (or) material liability, can be established exclusively by this Code or in the cases and manner provided for by it.

Thus, the new law breaks the existing system when the Labor Code of the Russian Federation was the central source of labor law, and any by-laws are adopted exclusively for its development and should not contradict it.

Regarding the question of the extent of the legal regulation of labor relations, which by the end of the current year may be carried out by the Government bypassing the legislative authority, it should be noted the controversy of the assertion that the new rules will allow the Government to arbitrarily change fundamental labor rights, including the right of workers to 8-hour working day. At the same time, it is possible that certain “hotheads” in state bodies, as well as employers, will try to take advantage of the temporarily opened legal loophole.