Public Defender Welcomes Changes in Labour Legislation

The Public Defender welcomes the changes made in the labour legislation and hopes that their implementation will significantly contribute to the prevention of violations of labour rights.

Several laws regulating important issues of labour legislation were adopted on September 29, 2020. The establishment of a labour inspection mechanism, which enjoys a full mandate and will be authorized from January 1, 2021 to oversee the protection of the labour law, including by inspecting workplaces and effectively responding to the violations of labour rights, is particularly worth noting. The Public Defender has been stressing the need for such a mechanism in her annual reports and public statements for years.

In addition to the above, a number of changes have been made to the legislation to improve the rights situation of employees.

  • Regulations relating to the maternity leave have been changed. In particular, employees shall be able to request a paid leave for 126 calendar days due to pregnancy and childbirth (143 calendar days in case the employee has complicated childbirth or gives a birth to twins). As for the employees’ right to take a leave for child care, this right can be enjoyed fully or partly either by the mother or the father of the child for 604 calendar days (57 calendar days shall be paid). In addition, a pregnant woman shall be able to request extra time for a medical examination if the above is to be done during working hours. The employee shall be paid for the working hours missed for the above purpose in case of submission of documents confirming the conduct of examinations.
  • Issues relating to breaks, non-working days and the length of the working day have been regulated. In particular, when the working time exceeds 6 hours a day, the employee shall have the right to enjoy a break for at least 60 minutes; the working hours of those working under difficult, harmful or hazardous working conditions during night shall not exceed 8 hours in 24 hours (this rule does not apply to shift work). The employer shall have an obligation to ensure that the working days in a week does not exceed 6. In addition, the working hours of minors, as well as the limit of their overtime work, have been specified. Legal representatives or supporters of persons with disabilities shall have the right to take an additional paid day off once a month or to agree the working hours that differ from internal regulations with the employer, etc.
  • The issues relating to internship has also been regulated. In particular, the term of unpaid internship shall not exceed 6 months and the term of paid internship shall not exceed 1 year.
  • It is important that a separate chapter has been devoted to the regulation of issues of prohibition of labour discrimination, since discrimination is particularly frequent in labour relations and it is important that the protection of the principle of equality and its aspects be regulated by the main normative acts governing labour relations, in addition to the anti-discrimination legislation.

In this regard, it should be noted that the new edition of the law explicitly stipulates the obligation of the employer to ensure equal pay for equal work of male and female employees. In addition, an incomplete list of specific issues related to labour and pre-contractual relations (selection criteria, employment conditions, training, etc.), to which the principle of equal treatment applies, has been specified. The above will facilitate the detection and prevention of alleged discrimination by persons participating in labour relations. The principles of distribution of the burden of proof and reasonable accommodation have been clearly defined as well.

Unfortunately, the Public Defender's proposal to limit the mandate of the Labour Inspection Service to the assessment of the general policy of equality in the workplace and to introduce a mechanism of referring individual cases of alleged discrimination to the Public Defender has not been taken into account. The Public Defender considers that mandates of two mechanisms have been duplicated by granting the Labour Inspectorate an unconditional mandate to review the cases of discrimination. The above may prevent the establishment of a consistent national standard and, in some cases, may create the risk of making different decisions and lead to unjustified financial costs. For the purpose of preventing these risks, the Public Defender expresses readiness to work closely with the Labour Inspectorate or other stakeholders.

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