MOSCOW, June 4 (RAPSI) – A new refined version of a bill setting forth requirements pertaining to distant intercommunications between employers and employees, in particular those relating to labor contracts made, or vacation request letters and resignation notices submitted via internet has reached the lower house of Russia’s parliament, according to its statement published on Thursday.

The bill envisages the introduction of provisions on e-exchange of legally valid messages between employees and employers.

Initially, the bill was submitted to the State Duma yet in June 2019.

An author of the document, Chair of the Committee on State Building and Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov, has stressed that its enactment is especially urgent amid the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in more active use of distant formats of work across many sectors of the economy.

The provisions of the bill define legally valid messages as any acts of interaction between the parties of labor contracts committed with the purpose to transmit certain legally relevant information.

It is proposed to introduce a new article fixing the general provisions on legally valid messages and the forms they may be made in, including e-forms alongside paper mail notices and statement made during personal contacts.

The government is to be empowered to set requirements pertaining to the said intercommunication means except if otherwise provided in a labor contract, local regulation, collective contract or agreement.

Employers are to be liable for keeping all legally valid messages from their employees and copies of such addressed by them to their employees under the procedures set forth by a local regulation.

Since employers are a prevailing party of labor contracts in economic terms and can impose unfavorable conditions on employees in such contracts, including those concerning legally valid messages, it is envisaged that the respective rules set forth in labor contracts, local regulations, agreements and so on, are not to worsen the situation of employees as compared with the rules set in Russia’s Labor Code.

Besides, the bill envisages that legally valid messages are to entail legal consequences since the moment the message is delivered to its addressee.

It is also envisaged that an employee is to have the right to decline exchange of legally valid messages in e-form at any time after the labor contract has been made. This provision, according to Krasheninnikov, is necessary because not all citizens can or wish to use various electronic devices to receive such messages.

Yet another new provision of the bill is that amending Russia’s Labor Code to the effect that labor contracts may be made via an exchange of documents and information using electronic and other technical means.

To prevent possible irregularities in the course of negotiations over making labor contracts via exchange of legally valid messages, it is envisaged that both employees and employers are obliged to act in compliance with good practices, so the parties are not to engage in negotiations if one of them clearly does not wish to make a contract with another party.

Moreover, it is envisaged that in the Labor Code it is to be pointed out that in the course of interaction between employees and their distant employers (those, who have made their labor contracts on distant work) via exchange of legally valid messages there are to be used methods permitting to clearly identify the persons sending the said messages. Therefore, both parties are obliged to timely confirm the receipts of e-documents to the other party in compliance with the requirements set forth in the respective labor contracts on distant work.

It is envisaged that the provisions of the bill are to be in effect since October 1, 2020. They are to be applied to the rights and obligations, which will arise after the law is enacted.