Amendments to the Labour Code of Belarus (“Amendments”) were introduced on 18 July 2019 and will come into force on 28 January 2020.
In general, the content of such amendments has the purpose to unify the regulation of the employment agreement and employment contract in business, as well as extend the guarantee for employees ensuring gender equality.
Certain changes are aimed at securing equal rights for women and men in labour relations.
For example, a single parent with children 3 – 14 years old (or a disabled child up to 18 years old) will be provided with certain guarantees, which today may be applied only to female employees. In particular related to the amendment, it will be not possible to dismiss this category of employees due to redundancy.
At the same time, the Amendments appears to create a system that rewards and incentivises the loyalty of the employees.
In fact, in the case of employees who do not breach employment discipline, the employer should offer to extend the contract for the maximum term (i.e. within 5 years), and upon expiration of the maximum term, the employer should offer to conclude a new contract for a period of at least 3 years. Therefore, the employer may not decide autonomously to extend an employment contract with a diligent employee for a period shorter than the maximum possible. Any extension for a shorter period than what described above is allowed only with the written consent of the employee.
This is to say that diligent employees are rewarded and their position and rights have been increased related to labour discipline.
What’s more, one of the issues on which the Amendments is focused is the regulation of remote work. Remote work shall be referred to as work that is executed outside the employer’s workplace using communication technologies. With the application of the Amendments, the employer will not need to arrange a workplace, and the remote employee will be provided with all social and labour guarantees.
Prior to the Amendments, permanent remote work was only possible by signing an employment agreement with an employee who works where they reside or on other premises away from the employer’s workspace.
With the entering into force of the Amendments, remote work will allow a remote employee to work anywhere with no need to define a specific workplace; the parties will exchange applications, orders, notifications, internal regulations, additional agreements and other documents in electronic form (at the same time, certain types of documents will need to be sent to the employees by mail). The latter will oblige the employer to undertake minimum obligations in ensuring labour safety for remote employees.
The Amendments stand to create an advantage for both parties and will be applicable to all employees that may work via the internet.
It shall be also considered that the mandate for such remote work will be that the employment agreement be signed in the personal presence of the employee and shall include general mandatory terms, as well as some additional conditions, in particular the sharing of examples which serve as an indication that the work is remote with conditions for exchanging documents and ways and frequency of work-contact with the employee.
As we can see, remote work has the potential to be executed everywhere. But can it be executed out of Belarus?
Belarus law has not expressed provisions on this, but according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the protection of the employee’s labour rights may be ensured by Belarusian law only in the territory of Belarus.
Remote work has already been a reality for many companies for a long period of time and could be expanded going forward due in part that the amendment consents to a certain flexibility for business purposes.
In addition to the revisions in the Labour Code, as outlined above, the Amendments also provide for important changes to the temporary transfer of employees to other jobs — regarding which, with the Amendments, the transfer is also permitted to another employment situation under certain conditions and for a limited period — and to the changes of the material working conditions on the employer’s initiative that will be possible with a prior notice to the employee and in compliance with some terms.
This article includes some of the most important changes to the Labour Code.
In any case, the employment agreement remains the base of the employment relationship. It is mandatory to sign such an employment agreement to commence an employment relationship, which is fundamental for the protection of both the employer and employee.
An employment agreement includes numerous conditions that shall comply with the current rules and regulations. What’s more, the language used and the execution of the document is very important. By the way of example, after the Amendments go into effect, it will be required that each page of the employment agreement and its annexes be numbered and signed by the parties.
Employment, and consequently the application of labour law, is one of the most important and, at the same time, risky aspects for a company and for an individual.
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