Changes to Belarus Labor Codes

The Belarus Government introduced significant changes in their 2020 labor code. Some significant highlights include legitimization of remote work, paternity leaves, relaxing of travel restrictions on working mothers, the extension of contracts, and more. Here are some of the main changes and what they mean for Belarus employers and employees.

Paternity Leaves
As per the new labor code, a father or stepfather can apply for up to 14 days of paternity leave upon the birth of a child. They can use the leave within the first five months of the child’s birth. However, whether the leave will be paid or unpaid depends upon the employer and employment contract. The employers have the option not to pay for time off for the birth of a child.

Travel Restrictions
Mothers with children aged three and below were previously not allowed to embark upon business trips, which made it difficult for working mothers and even more difficult for employers to retain working mothers. However, with these changes in the labor code, mothers with children aged three or older will be allowed to undertake business trips. The travel restrictions remain for those who have children younger than three, as well as expecting mothers.

Changes in Employment Terms
A labor code amendment in 2015 reduced the required minimum notice period to an employee, before termination of the employment contract or changing of key employment terms, from one month to seven days. As per the changes in Belarus 2020 labor code, the compulsory notice period has been restored to a minimum of 1 month.

Another major change in employment terms pertains to an employment contract extension. Under the Belarussian law, the minimum and maximum term of the employment contract are 1 year and 5 five years, respectively. Often employers provide a one year contract and keep extending it for one year alone, which leads to increased job insecurity. These new amendments stipulate that the employment contracts of diligent employees must be extended for a period of up to a minimum of three years. Only upon the written consent of the employee can the extension period be reduced to one year.

Legitimizing Remote Work
The government has also legalized remote work access for employees. All those working remotely shall be liable to receive paid vacation, holidays and perks that a regular employee receives. The law also states that no employment contract for remote work can be drawn up in the absence of the said employee. The general rules of labor law about work hours, vacations, disciplinary sanctions and business trips all remain applicable.

Terms of Liability
Prior to the 2020 amendment, employees only faced limited financial liability, especially if the intent was not to cause damage to the employer. However, as of January 28, 2020, all employees, whether under simple employment agreements or employment contracts, face equal financial liability.

While most of the changes in Belarus 2020 Labor code revolve around providing job security and increasing job satisfaction to employees, changes like the exclusion of financial liability from employment contracts are more focused toward safeguarding employer interests. Overall, the Labor Code changes provide a well-balanced job market for Belarus employers and employees.

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