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The Russian State Duma, Russia’s elected legislative body, postponed the proposed third reading of the draft bill on temporary work. Buyers and suppliers of temporary work and temporary agency workers have been waiting for a resolution to the legislative uncertainty since the beginning of the year. The proposed vote had been moved to late September, but has been postponed once again. No official reason has been given for the postponement.
Temporary agency work is not regulated under Russian labour legislation, but it is widely used in practice. The law regarding agency work in Russia is ambiguous. Agency workers are not expressly prohibited but there are currently no legal provisions protecting temporary workers, agencies or their clients. A lack of legal regulation has led to alleged infringement of workers' rights and is leaving staffing firms and their clients in legal uncertainty.
The draft bill has been under discussion for three years and has undergone significant modifications since it was first proposed for consideration by the State Duma. In November 2010, members of the Duma’s Labour and Social Policy Committee initiated a bill proposing a complete ban on agency labour. The draft bill immediately generated a hostile response from the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and other employer lobby groups. The international temporary work agency association CIETT also protested, writing to the Duma stating that banning temporary agencies was ‘inappropriate from the point of view of defending the interests of employees’.
In May 2011, the bill (draft law № 451173-5) was passed on its first reading, but a subsequent review recommended that the bill should not be finalised until all proposals had been put forward by interested parties.
Irina Anyukhina, a Partner at the law firm Alrud, commented: “[The draft law] now defines ‘borrowed labour’ [temporary agency work] as labour (work) performed by an employee at the instruction of his or her employer in the interests, under control and management of a legal entity or individual who are not the employer of such employee.”
The draft law also prohibits temporary agency work; except where personnel are provided to another person on the basis of an agreement for provision of personnel and:
1. Where the provider is an accredited private placement agency, or
2. Where an employer – company (legal entity) sends its employees to another company of its ‘group’ (the “group” definition was being discussed and it is not clear how it will be defined in the final draft bill).
Ms Anyukhina added: “In all other cases provision of personnel will be prohibited. Provision of personnel in cases other than mentioned in the draft law will be an administrative offence. The draft law will also directly prohibit entering into civil law contracts to regulate relations, which are in fact labour/employment relations, and introduce administrative fines for such practices for the employers and their officers. “
Despite the restrictions on temporary agencies within the draft bill, the enactment of the temporary agency workers law would represent an important advance for protecting worker rights; not only in Russia, but throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where temporary agency work currently has a similarly ambiguous legal status.
There is currently no information regarding a rescheduled date for the third reading and there may be further modifications by the date of its consideration by the Parliament. Staffing Industry Analysts will keep you informed of the latest developments.