Non-working period extended through end of April 2020
On 2 April 2020, President Putin approved a number of new measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.1
Under the new decree, the non-working period announced last week has been extended until 30 April 2020, inclusive, with employees of most companies in Russia sent home on paid leave.
Regional authorities may add other businesses to the list of organizations that will continue to function during the non-working period.
The list of companies permitted to operate, which includes food stores, hospitals, and essential services, has been expanded to include organizations that provide essential financial services, primarily settlement and payment services.
Russia's so-called systemically important companies, which include most of the country's largest enterprises, may apply the non-working paid leave regime with the consent of the Russian Government.
Regional authorities are also authorized to:
- Determine the localities in their region where restrictive measures will be introduced.
- Suspend, limit, the activities of businesses and organizations in these localities.
- Establish restrictions on movement in their region.
Restrictions in Moscow
In Moscow the current restrictions have been extended until 1 May 2020.
As follows from Mayor Sobyanin's decree2, companies may continue operating, provided they are not on the federal or Moscow lists of businesses which are closed to the public, such as schools, beauty parlors, SPAs, restaurants, cinemas, clubs, betting offices and other similar outlets.
The non-working period is mandatory for such companies until 1 May. However, under the Mayor's decree, the companies may continue their operations, primarily using distant working from home, upon splitting their workforce into three categories:
- Employees who can report to work in the usual way.
- Those who will work remotely from home.
- All other employees who will have 'non-working days', but will be paid their regular salaries.
Considering the purpose of the restrictive measures adopted by the Russian Government, we believe that only a very limited number of employees who perform critical technological and other functions, without which an organization cannot operate, may be included in the first category.
We note that the above exemption in Mayor Sobyanin's decree was not specifically stipulated in President Putin's decree. Accordingly, if the health crisis gets worse, potentially Moscow authorities may ban employees assigned to the first category to come to work or to restrict the number of businesses covered by this exemption.
We believe that employees traveling to work or while working on the premises and employers should have the following documents, in case of an inspection:
- Employer's order to continue reporting to work, specifying the position and reasons for work on the premises.
- Letter/certificate from the employer for each employee specifying reasons for work on the premises.
Potentially authorities may introduce additional restrictions and other documents may be required. We cannot also rule out that law enforcement bodies may apply sanctions to employees or businesses who have the above documents. This is due to the fact that the situation is developing very rapidly and authorities may interpret and apply new rules inconsistently.
Consequences of violating the restrictions
Russian federal and Moscow city authorities have increased fines and prison terms for violations committed during an epidemic.
Violations of sanitary rules and hygienic standards, and failure to comply with sanitary-hygienic and other measures specifically during an emergency or epidemic now entail fines of up to RUB 40,000, approximately USD 510, for individuals, up to RUB 150,000, approximately USD 1,900, for company officers, and up to RUB 500,000, approximately USD 6,350, for companies. State authorities may also suspend a company's business activities for up to 90 days. If the above violation results in an illness or death, liability is higher.3
Failure to comply with the rules under an emergency situation or when there is a risk of one, may entail a fine of up to RUB 30,000, approximately USD 380, for citizens, up to RUB 50,000, approximately USD 640, for company officers, and up to RUB 300,000, approximately USD 3,800, for companies. If the above violation results in harm to health or property, or in case of repeat violations, fines are higher.
Failure to comply with the rules under a high alert regime, including the current self-isolation regime in Moscow, may entail a fine of RUB 4,000, approximately USD 50, for citizens, up to RUB 40,000, approximately USD 510, for company officers, and up to RUB 300,000, approximately USD 3,800, for companies.4
If the spread of COVID-19 increases, authorities may resort to criminal prosecution. For violations of sanitary-epidemiological rules that lead to, or are capable of causing, mass disease or poisoning through negligence, the punishment is now imprisonment for up to two years. If such a violation causes the death of one person, it is punishable by up to five years in prison; if two or more persons die, the prison term can be up to seven years.5
1 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 02 April 2020 No. 239 "On measures to ensure the sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population in connection with the spread of coronavirus infection
2 Decree of the Mayor of Moscow of 2 April 2020 No. 36-UM "Amending Decree of Mayor of Moscow of 5 March 2020 No. 12-UM"
3 Federal Law of 01 April 2020 No. 99-FZ "On Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses"
4 Law of the City of Moscow "On Amending Articles 2 and 8 of Law of the City of Moscow of 10 December 2003 No. 77 "On Public Law Enforcement Points in the City of Moscow "and Law of the City of Moscow of 21 November 2007 No. 45 "The Code of the City of Moscow on Administrative Offenses"
5 Federal Law of 01 April 2020 No. 100-FZ "On Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and Articles 31 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation"