How Can Foreign Employees Avoid Becoming Victims of Employers in Russia?
Alexander Ksenofontov, Senior Lawyer, LEVINE Bridge
While in Russia, the employment of a foreign citizen is regulated by Russian Labour law regardless of country and employer for which the employment agreement was concluded.
According to Russian law, foreign citizens possess the right to freely pursue employment, choose the type of activity and profession, as well as the right to freely use his/her ability and property for entrepreneurial and other activities not prohibited by law, subject to the limitations provided by federal law.
In most cases, foreign citizens require a work permit in Russia.
Cases in which a work permit is not required:
- A foreigner holding residency status;
- Accredited journalists;
- Russian migrants from abroad;
- Diplomatic and consular officers and their private staff;
- Students working in their free time;
- Certain researchers and/or teachers;
- Employees of foreign companies - producers and suppliers of equipment in Russia for installation and maintenance of equipment;
- Employees of foreign companies’ representative offices, if in their country of origin Russian citizens are provided the same privilege.
Upon entering into an employment agreement, foreign citizens should know that generally employment agreements are without term limitations. The nationality of an employee is not grounds for a limited term Labour agreement. If the agreement is for a limited period, and in the absence of legal grounds, the court may declare the agreement valid for an indefinite period. Reasons for which an employment agreement was entered into for a fixed-term must be specified in the employment agreement.
The terms of an employment agreement cannot be worse than the conditions to which is protected by Russian Labour law. Labour law provides an employee with certain minimum rights and guarantees, without exception.
Salary must be paid in roubles. If an employee requests payment in a foreign currency, it is permitted for the employer to transfer wages from one foreign account to another foreign account.
An employer inviting a foreigner to Russia must include financial, medical and housing assistance during his/her stay on the territory of the Russian Federation. In this regard, a foreign citizen must appropriately include the terms of the relevant social package within an employment agreement.
Place of Employment can be used for the purposes of migration registration (registration of temporary residence). This type of registration is mandatory for all foreigners in Russia.
With salary earned, an employer shall withhold from a foreign employee personal income at a rate of 30% for those not classified as taxed residents of Russia and 13% for taxed residents, Highly Qualified Specialists, and certain other categories.
Termination of employment is permitted only with legitimate grounds and is strictly limited by federal law. Only certain workers, for example corporate executives, can be included in the list of grounds for termination an employment agreement. In other words,
Russia has prohibited arbitrary dismissal.
Upon dismissal, an employer must compensate for departure costs, if in accordance with federal law the foreign employee is required to leave. It is suggested that a foreign citizen include within the terms of an employment agreement level of compensation in the event of travel to a new employment destination.