Resolving Collective and Individual Labor Disputes in Russia

In Russia, any disagreements between employees and employers are settled strictly in accordance with the procedure established by the Russian Labor Code. It should be noted that such a dispute could be classified either as a collective labor dispute or as an individual labor dispute.

Collective Labor Disputes

A collective labor dispute involves several employees. It arises when there are disagreements between employees and employers regarding the establishment of or changes in working conditions (including salary), the modification or execution of collective contracts and agreements, or in connection with the employer’s refusal to take into account the opinion of the elected representative body of employees when making local regulations.

A collective labor dispute is resolved in several stages: by a conciliation committee, with the participation of a mediator, and/or by labor arbitration. The Russian dispute resolution process works as follows:

  • Conciliation committee. The stage of settling a collective dispute by the conciliation committee is mandatory. It includes the election of representatives on the part of employees and the employer(s) to the conciliation committee, the work of the established committee and its decision-making proceedings. The decision of the conciliation committee is binding for both parties and is executed in the time and manner stipulated therein. If the conciliation committee fails to come to an agreement, the parties to the collective labor dispute proceed with negotiations on consideration of the collective labor dispute with a mediator’s participation and (or) in labor arbitration.
  • Mediator. If the members of the conciliation committee come to an agreement on consideration of the dispute with the mediator’s participation, they shall determine and approve (on their own or with the help of the state) the mediator’s candidacy, who will make a decision on the dispute in the manner determined by the agreement of members of the conciliation committee.
  • Labor arbitration.  If the members of the conciliation committee fail to come to an agreement on consideration of the dispute with the mediator’s participation or fail to determine the mediator’s candidacy, the dispute shall be referred to labor arbitration. The labor arbitration is jointly formed by employers, employees, and the state represented by the authorized bodies. As agreed by the parties, the dispute may be referred to permanent labor arbitration operating under the tripartite commission on regulation of social and labor relations. The decision of the labor arbitration is also mandatory for employers and employees.

Individual Labor Disputes

An individual labor dispute arises between two persons: the employee and employer; it can be settled in two ways:

  1. Through the commission on labor disputes
  2. In a court of general jurisdiction

A person believing that his/her rights have been violated is entitled to choose where to seek resolution of the dispute: in the commission or directly in a court. In case of disagreement with the decision of the commission, a person retains the right to appeal the commission’s decision in court. The dispute process works as follows:

  • Commission on labor disputes. The commission on labor disputes is formed upon the initiative of employees and/or the employer of an equal number of employees and the employer. The period allowed for applying to the commission is three months from the date when the person knew or should have known about the violation of his/her rights. In case of default to this term for a good reason, the commission may extend it. The commission shall consider the dispute within 10 calendar days from the date of receipt of the relevant application and is considered by the commission in the presence of the employee and the employer. The decision is adopted by secret ballot and may be appealed in court within 10 days from the date of receipt of a copy of the committee’s decision.
  • Court of general jurisdiction. The period allowed for applying to court is three months as well, or, on disputes of dismissal, one month from the date of delivery of a copy of the order for dismissal to the employee or the date of the workbook issuance. In case of default to this term for good reasons, it can be extended by the court. The employer is entitled to apply to the court with the disputes on employee compensation for damage caused to the employer within one year from the date of damage disclosure.

Labor Disputes Can be Complicated

Given that there is much red tape in labor relations in Russia, any labor dispute, even at first glance seemingly an inessential one, can be resolved in the most unexpected way. Therefore, it is very important at the stage of decision-making, preparation, and signing of personnel documents to estimate possible risks they may cause for both the employee and the employer.

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