Crisis in the Work Place: Part-Time Employment


Arthur Abouzov, Senior Associate | Employment, Pensions and Benefits / Goltsblat BLP

Olga Popova, Paralegal | Employment, Pensions
and Benefits / Goltsblat BLP

According to the statistics of the Federal Service for Labor and Employment of Russia, of the 384,243 employees that have been officially dismissed since the beginning of October 2008, 119,283 have found new jobs, and 1.249 million employees have been transferred to part-time employment. Given the dramatic fall in the number of full-time jobs since the economy started to contract under the influence of the global financial crisis, some types of employment option have risen, one of them being part-time employment.

There are a number of important areas of concern. The latest category of non-standard work, part-time employment, can be said to save jobs rather than having them lost during the world financial crisis. Most part-time employees shorten their hours by choice and necessity. Today, lots of companies are transferring their employees to part-time employment. For example, according to Rossiiskaya Gazeta, half the employees of JSC Russian Railways are now working part-time or are on administrative leave. And this is more than 600 000 people. It is important to mention, however, that the procedure for transferring employees to part-time is not always carried out correctly from the legal point of view.

It is important to note that there is no definition of part-time employment. The Russian Labor Code states only that part-time employment can be established in the form of an incomplete working day or incomplete working week. In the first case, the duration of daily work decreases, in the second — the number of the working days in the week, while the duration of daily work remains unchanged. Part-time employment is legally possible for a period of six months. In addition, part-time employment can be established in relation either to all or just some employees.

First of all, with respect to the procedure, it should be stated that there must be proper grounds for introducing part-time employment. This means circumstances that lead to changes in the organizational or technological working conditions in the company.

Which precise circumstances can lead to such changes is not specified. On the one hand, the list remains open but, on the other hand, it should be remembered that changes can be strictly technological or organizational in character. A simple reference by a company to the Russian Labor Code is not entirely legitimate. Specific reasons should be indicated, such as: introduction of new or replacement of equipment, mechanization of manufacturing, a change in the manufacturing process or the structure of the organization. In accordance with the official JSC Russian Railways web site, a structural reorganization constituted one of the grounds for part-time employment.

Second, part-time employment may be established in the event of mass potential lay-offs. It should always be remembered that, in addition to the initial two-months’ notice given to employees, the primary trade union organization must be also notified. Moreover, the employer is obliged to inform the Employment Service that it is starting part-time employment.

Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova has said that companies should be recommended to introduce part-time employment, even though these measures will not be able to stop rising unemployment completely. Part-time employment is a feature and a necessity of our times. As a new form of working activity, it can save jobs, careers and the well-being of many people.

Certainly, employees may refuse to work part-time, and if so the employment contracts can always be terminated in connection with number or staff reductions. But if they agree — it will be necessary to enter into an additional agreement because part-time employment is an essential working condition. With respect to time and money, the salary of part-time employees depends on proportional amount of work performed or actual time worked, while annual holidays are not reduced and the employees are still entitled 28 calendar days holiday per annum.

Why establish part-time employment? It is always important to that remember the legal reason for this is job preservation. Today, almost all employees are reducing their career expectations and almost all employers are trying to save their business. But is it normal to dismiss valuable staff under the influence of fear and uncertainty? As it says on Solomon’s ring — “This too will pass,” the global financial crisis will end one day, and highly-qualified, professional staff with wide ranging skills will be needed again. One way to retain such staff today and not to lose time in the future is part-time employment.