This summary of age discrimination law in Russia has been prepared by ALRUD, the Ius Laboris member for Russia: www.alrud.com

Overview

The Constitution of Russia prohibits discrimination on grounds such as sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property status or job position, residence, attitude towards religion, views, (non)membership in social associations and other circumstances. Though age discrimination is not explicitly indicated, we presume it is implied by “other circumstances”. In any event, age discrimination in employment is explicitly prohibited by the Russian Labour Code.

Certain age-based variations in employment conditions, limitations, preferences, etc are established by the Labour Code or other federal laws in view of the job requirements and workplace conditions.

Who's covered?

The above regulations cover all individuals working under an employment contract. Self-employed individuals are not covered by these regulations; however the employer should note that engaging self-employed individuals under civil contracts may in some cases be qualified by the court as hiring them (subject to the character of the work done/performed under the contract). Thus the employer in engaging a self-employed individual of a prohibited age group should be sure that his/her work qualifies as the provision of services rather than as employment. Agency workers in Russia are regarded as ordinary workers, and the agency as their employer, thus they are covered by the common legislative requirements.

What enforcement/remedies exist?

Age discrimination can be a civil or criminal offence.

Civil liability for non-compliance with the age regulations can apply both to the company’s official and to the company itself as a legal entity. Claims relating to administrative offences can be brought in a district court (which is court of general jurisdiction) or to the Federal Labour Inspection. The latter can also detect the violations in the course of inspection performed at its own initiative or at the request of an employee/employer.

The sanctions for violation of the labour law (which prohibits age discrimination) are administrative fines for the company and/or its officials (plus possible disqualification for officials for repeated similar offence).

However, in terms of criminal liability, the Criminal Code does not expressly include age discrimination and theoretically such discrimination could also qualify as criminal offence. The sanction varies from a fine to imprisonment of up to 5 years. A victim must file a complaint with the local police office and this is then further considered by the district court. Despite this, there is currently no available precedent on the application of the criminal liability for discrimination on the grounds of age.

The employee can also claim damages caused to him/her (including moral damage) from the company. The amount of such damage is calculated depending on the case.

How common are claims?

In the sphere of employment law the number of discrimination claims is rather small compared to for example, claims for unfair dismissal on other grounds. However within this group, age discrimination claims are noticeable. This is probably due to the fact that some of them are worded as debating compliance of federal laws (which establish for example a compulsory retirement age for a specific profession) with the Russian Constitution. Such disputes are resolved by the Constitutional Court of Russia and the decisions form part of the Russian legislation due to their precedental value (precedents of other courts are formally not recognised as law).

What claims are most common and what are trickiest issues for employers?

In our opinion, the most common claims are filed by state civil servants, military men, educational workers at state or municipal institutions, for whom the federal laws establish the age of compulsory retirement and who object to retirement for such ground as non-constitutional.

Private companies, in order to avoid possible age discriminations disputes, should ensure that:

  • no job refusal is based on age reasons (unless the job is prohibited by law to a certain age group);
  • questions at the interview should not give rise to the inference that age discrimination is taking place;
  • employees of specific age groups are not engaged in jobs that are prohibited to them by law; and;
  • employees under 18 are given all the statutory guarantees they are entitled to, and;
  • the employer does not misuse its right to sign fixed-term employment contracts with individuals who have reached the retirement age.

As a final point, it is important to note that under Russian law it is common to have employment contracts signed for an indefinite period of time, but if a new hire has reached the retirement age it is permissible to make them sign a fixed term contract. Signing several consequent fixed-term contracts for the same job can be disputed as unjustified, and as a result the contract can instead be held as an indefinite one.

Are there any specific exceptions in your laws?

The general requirement of the Russian Labour Code is that employment can start once the individual is 16 years old (exceptions exist for children of any age who perform at theatres, circuses, etc.).

Specific rules apply for employees under 18 years old. Again, certain jobs are prohibited to this age group. This includes work in harmful or hazardous conditions; underground work and work that might impair their health or moral development (work at gambling business, night clubs, production, transportation, sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc.). Every employee under 18 years old should every year submit to medical examination. Employees under 18 years old are also given additional guarantees such as a larger holiday entitlement and fewer lawful grounds for dismissal.

The law defines a list of jobs prohibited to individuals who have reached the retirement age (mostly state civil servants, military men, etc.).

Retirement ages

The general retirement age in Russia is 60 for men and 55 for women. For certain jobs (e.g. those involving underground work, harmful environment, etc.) the retirement age can be 5-10 years less (e.g. 55 for men and 50 for women completing certain jobs in the aviation sector). However, in general reaching the retirement age does not mean an employee will have to quit his job. The individual may at his/her discretion continue working, and receive, as well as remuneration, the state pension.

Generally, an employer cannot force an employee to retire upon reaching a certain age or to move to another position (though there are exceptions in relation to state civil servants, rectors of state higher educational institutions, etc.). However, when hiring a new employee close to or above retirement age the employer can suggest signing a fixed-term employment contract and safely dismiss the employee once such contract expires.