On March 26, 2020, the Ministry of Labour published recommendations to workers and employers in connection with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated March 25, 2020 No. 206 "On the Announcement of Non-Working Days in the Russian Federation."
According to the recommendations, a non-working day is not treated the same as weekend or holiday, therefore, employees are paid the usual rate (as opposed to an increased amount).
This means that the rules of engaging employees on weekends/holidays do not apply (namely, the need to receive the employee’s consent and to pay double the wage amount).
The recommendations indicate a complete ban on working during the non-working days for employees whose physical presence at the work place is necessary, except where the employer’s organization falls into an exemption. However, where employees are working remotely, the risks of violating sanitary standards and restrictions are eliminated.
It is anticipated that tight controls to identify employers that violate these measures by requesting their employees to continue to work non-remotely, will be introduced.
Given the circumstances, there is a high risk that employers may be held not only to administrative liability for violation of labour legislation, but also administrative and criminal liability for violation of sanitary and epidemiological measures.
Currently there is no specific penalty for violation of measures to counteract the spread of the coronavirus infection. However, legislation in this field is presently being developed and discussed in the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (see bill No. 929651-7).
Nonetheless, it is important to note that most severe measures will apply in the case where an employee becomes infected with coronavirus at the workplace during the time that s/he was supposed to be at home, in accordance with the adopted regulatory legal acts.
It is likely that the investigative authority will attempt to prosecute the company officers under Art. 143 of the Criminal Code (Violation of labor protection rules), Art. 236 of the Criminal Code (Violation of the sanitary-epidemiological rules).
On the same basis, companies and their officers may be held administratively liable under Art. 6.3 of the Code of the Russian Federation on administrative offenses (violation in the field of ensuring sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population). This carries suspension of the activities of a legal entity (i.e. the company) for up to 90 days.