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On Tuesday, April 2, 2020, in the aftermath of his address to the nation over the coronavirus outbreak, the President of the Russian Federation issued a Decree that declares a non-working period with full pay until the end of April. The previously announced non-working week took place from March 30 to April 3, 2020.
The Decree does not apply to employees of: continuously operating organizations; medical and pharmacy organizations; organizations suppling the population with food and essential goods; organizations performing emergency work in emergencies, and in other cases, endangering the life or normal living conditions of the population and; organizations engaged in emergency repair and loading and unloading operations: organizations providing financial services in terms of emergency functions (primarily services for settlements and payments); other organizations determined by decisions of the respective authorities of the subject of the Russian Federation based on the sanitary-epidemiological situation and the specifics of the spread of a new coronavirus infection (COVID-19).
The wording of the Decree creates certain doubts as to its application. Firstly, its norms seem to be inconsistent with provisions of the Labour Code, which does not provide for “non-working days”. The Labour Code distinguishes only days-off and holidays, which it appears, shall apply by analogy. As a result, it could be argued that employees, who generally are or may be obliged to work on days-off or holidays, shall not be granted non-working days under the Decree. Secondly, concerns have been raised whether in the context of the purpose of the Decree expressed in its preamble (“to ensure the sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population…”) employees, who are able to work remotely, are also granted non-working days. Purposive interpretation could lead to the conclusion that this category of employees shall not fall within the scope of the Decree. This is because granting non-working days in this case does not in any way improve the sanitary and epidemiological well-being related to the coronavirus. In the context of the above, the Ministry of Labour recently clarified that employees working remotely have the right to continue doing so during non-working days based on the agreement with employer. Lastly, the exemptions set out in the Decree are rather ambiguous. By way of example, it is debatable whether a store generally selling non-essential goods but still having some minor foodstuff department falls within the exemptions. Similarly, shall an organization be deemed “continuously operating”, if only part of its operations, however, vital to the core business, is continuous? Taking into account that thus far no additional guidelines on the application of the Decree have been provided by the authorities, managers of the relevant organizations shall carefully and individually assess as to whether their organizations are exempted.
Please do not hesitate to contact our COVID-19 Help desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, should you have any questions related to the legal implications of the coronavirus outbreak in Russia or other CEE countries.
This document reflects the status as of April 6, 2020.
This document is for informational purposes only and may not be considered a legal opinion or advice.