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Home » Services » Labour law and human resource management » Foreign employees

Foreign employees

The principal legislation governing labor relationships in the Russian Federation.

is the Labor Code of the Russian Federation (the Labor Code), effective 1 February 2002.

Russian labor legal norms are applied to:

  • labor of foreign and stateless citizens;
  • business established or incorporated by foreign citizens, or with their participation;
  • employees of international organizations;
  • representative offices or branches of foreign legal entities.

In compliance with Russian labor rules and norms foreign citizens have a right to labour protection, social allowance, rest; special provisions on working conditions for women and teenagers, and others apply for foreign citizens as well.

The companies should pay compulsory medical and social insurance fees (single social tax) for foreign employees to relevant Russian authorities.

Labor contracts should comply with Russian legal requirements. In the event a foreigner works in Russia being on business trip and has signed a contract with foreign company, here in Russia laws of foreign state apply for him/her.

But Russian legal norms should be applied for working conditions closely related with work (working time, resting time, safety rules, etc.) Thus working time cannot exceed 40 hours per week, and Saturday, Sunday and holidays provided by Russian Labor Code are the guaranteed days off.

In addition to the Labor Code the legal status of foreign employees is regulated by the law "On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens on the Territory of the Russian Federation" and Russian government decrees, which were adopted to develop it.

Foreign nationals must obtain the relevant documents (work permit, work visa, etc.) before starting work in Russia. The procedure and documents vary according to whether or not the foreign national requires a Russian visa. The same rule applies to foreign nationals working in Russia under civil-law contracts for the performance of works or the provision of services (e.g. sales representatives).

The permission is needed not only for the foreign employees but also for the employers in Russia who want to hire them.

Permission for employees

A foreigner coming to Russia is entitled to work only in the event he/she has a work permit.

To work in Russia legally each foreign citizen should obtain work permit.

Work permit is a document (plastic card) confirming the right of a foreign citizen to work temporary in Russia; it is issued for 1 year on the basis of the permit for engaging foreign labor force granted to the company.

New procedure of obtaining work permits for foreign citizens from countries of non-visa entrance regime have come into force since the 15th of January 2007.

Here are the countries of non-visa entrance regime: countries of Community of Independent States (CIS), excluding Georgia and Turkmenistan.

A foreigner from a country of non-visa entrance regime should apply to Moscow Department of Federal Migration Agency for work permit personally or via authorized representative. Besides foreigner should provide his/her passport, migration card and a receipt confirming payment of state fee for the permit issuance. It is not allowed to refuse in accepting the application. The application is examined within the period provided by law, which is no longer than 10 working days.

The employer may engage foreigners coming from the countries of non-visa entrance regime without obtaining a permit for engaging foreign labor force, but in this case the employer should notify FMA agency and authority on occupation in writing.

In the event work permit is issued for the period exceeding 90 days, the applicant should provide FMA with documents confirming that he/she is not infected by HIV or other diseases dangerous for other people, within 30 days, in compliance with Russian law.

Foreign nationals working at accredited representative offices or branch offices of foreign firms also need to obtain a personal accreditation card from the accrediting body of the representative office or branch.

There are numerous inconveniences associated with hiring foreigners in Russia. There are quotas involved, first of all, and every hire has to be justified to the Federal Labor Service. Then the period for which the employee receives permission to work in may differ greatly from the terms of his contract. Many Russian companies have sprung up in recent years that provide registration services for foreigners for fees ranging from 3000 to 4000 rubles a piece. They can speed the process up so that it takes only one month. Their services will no longer be needed by foreign representative offices.


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