Labor migrants in Belarus in the context of the pandemic: changes in the Belarusian labor legislation
The coronavirus pandemic has changed not only the situation on the labor market. Labor legislation is also being adapted to the new realities. Including Belarusian one.
In this article, we want to talk about changes that also affect migrants working in Belarus.
This series of publications was prepared as part of La Strada Belarus Program and the International organization for migration information campaign financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway.
What do you need to know to protect your labour rights?
At the end of April 2020, our country temporarily introduced changes that affected the labor relations between employees and employers. Now the employer has the right to change the essential working conditions of the employee, informing him in writing beforehand - just 1 calendar day in advance. What can an employer do? For example, transfer you to a part - time job and reduce your salary accordingly, change your work schedule, or transfer you to a remote job. But please note that if you continue to work full – time and your salary is going to be reduced, the new rules do not apply in this case. In this situation, the employer must contact you in writing at least 30 calendar days in advance. The new temporary rules also do not apply to the termination of an employee's contract or fixed-term employment contract.
What do the new rules mean for an employee?
If the employer wants to change your working conditions, for example, to transfer you to a part - time job, he should give you a special notification. The employer can state it that notification, that he offers you to work only half of your working time because of the adverse impact of the epidemic on the company’s activity. It is clear that this will reduce your salary. If you do not agree, then the employer has the right to dismiss you. However, you will be entitled for allowance of at least two weeks ' average monthly salary.
If the employer wants to make your working day even shorter, for example, they offer to work only a quarter of the day instead of a half. And if you do not agree, then you are entitled for the allowance in the amount of at least one average monthly salary.
The reason for changes in working conditions must be related to the epidemiological situation and its consequences for the company.
First, you should know that the employer must inform the employee about changes in working conditions in writing, not verbally. Secondly, the employer must justify the reason for this and it must be related to the epidemiological situation and its consequences for the work of his company or enterprise.
Why is this important for the employee?
If the employer's arguments are not properly reasoned, then the change in essential working conditions can be considered unjustified in the court, and the dismissal, accordingly, will be declared as illegal.
Important! If you have received a notification of changes in essential working conditions, the period is considered to start from the day after it is delivered to you.
Transfer to another position or to another employer
Another important innovation in the legislation, which appeared as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, is the simplification of the transferring procedure of an employee to another structural division or to another employer. Your employer does not have the right to do this just because, but only by manufacturing necessity that arose due to the epidemiological situation. So, for example, in some Belarusian garment factories, workers who were engaged in cutting suits were temporarily transferred to sewing medical masks. Another reason for the transfer may be the need to replace a sick or absent employee. The employer can transfer you to a new job even without your consent for up to 3 months. If you do not mind, then for a longer period.
Guarantees to the employee when transferring
The employee is assigned to his former workplace. In other words, this transfer is temporary. At the same time, the salary can not be less than the one that the employee received before the transfer to a new workplace.
Assisted voluntary return program
If you are in a difficult situation, want to return home and need assistance, you can apply for participation in the Assisted voluntary return program of the International organization for migration. Phone numbers: 8-801-20-15-555 (from 8.00 to 20.00 daily) 8-0162-21-88-88 +37529 645-49-44 (mon-Thu 09:00-18:00, Fri 09:00-17:00) (available from mobile operators to apply for the voluntary return program only during the Covid-19 epidemic) or by email: email@example.com
You will be contacted within 3 days of submitting your request to proceed further. The decision on the possibility of providing assistance under the Program is made on an individual basis. If there is positive decision on your participation in the program based on your current situation and the availability of Progamme funds, you may be provided with assistance before leaving for your home country, as well as assistance with purchasing tickets when resuming flights. Assistance is provided within the framework of the EU project "Assistance to the Republic of Belarus in solving issues related to the increase of irregular migrants".