Electronic document management in employment relationships is now subject to legal regulation

5 min read
Read later

 Pepeliaev Group advises that on 22 November 2021 much-anticipated amendments to the Russian Labour Code (“Labour Code”) were adopted to regulate electronic document management (“EDM”) in employment relationships[1].

The above is a result of longstanding and extensive discussions of the draft law and practical experiments conducted by many employers within pilot projects in the area of EDM.  Today all employers have the right to implement EDM not only for remote employees, but also for any categories of employees.

The key new developments are as follows

Almost all HR documents can now be maintained in electronic form, except for:  

  • dismissal orders;

  • some documents relating to occupational safety, including documents regarding labour safety instructions, and industrial accident reports;

  • labour record books (if an employee has not switched to electronic form).

In order to switch to EDM, the employing company should carry out a number of preparatory steps prescribed by the Law (Articles 222 and 223 of the Labour Code) and adopt a relevant Internal Regulation /Policy (“IR”).  If a company has a trade union, its opinion should be taken into account as provided for by Article 372 of the Labour Code.

The Law establishes types of electronic signature and cases when such signatures should be used as part of EDM within the company.

Later, uniform requirements for the contents and the format of electronic documents will also be adopted. These are to be established by authorised executive government bodies.

A positive fact is that the Law includes many proposals from the expert community, including those of our lawyers who took an active part in working on the draft law. For example, as compared with the initial version of the draft law, the final list of documents for which EDM may apply has been significantly extended.  In addition, our proposal has generally been accepted whereby an employer has the right to independently determine in an IR a list of documents for which EDM is introduced and categories of applicable employees.
According to the Law, EDM should apply only with employees’ consent and only with respect to those employees who have provided their consent. However, such consent will not be required for those employees who are hired after 31 December 2021 provided that such employees have no prior employment history.

The above consent should be given by the employee in writing and should contain the employee’s handwritten signature (or enhanced qualified electronic signature).

Unfortunately, an option to implement EDM for all employees when the majority of employees have provided their consent was excluded from the final version of the Law. This option was aimed at optimising HR administration operations of companies.

The amendments to the Labour Code also mitigate some excessive statutory requirements, for example:

  • now, an employee entering into an employment relationship may provide documents in electronic form if the employer agrees to this format;

  • when hiring employees, employers will be able to familiarise them with internal regulations and policies in electronic form;

  • in the event of a “force-majeure” situation (a fire, an industrial accident, an epidemic, etc.) employers and employees who do not use EDM are allowed to temporarily exchange electronic documents or scanned copies/photos of them. It will be necessary, however, to subsequently supply the documents in hard copy.

For EDM purposes, employers may use the “Work in Russia” platform, as well as their own information systems (“ISs”).

The employer bears all expenses on creating and operating the employer’s ISs, as well as expenses on creating, using and storing electronic documents. 

At last, the employment order has been practically revoked.  Now, it is not mandatory to issue one.  This will additionally decrease the administrative burden on employers.

With respect to remote employees, the EDM rules established in Articles 221-223 of the Labour Code may now apply to this category as well, if the employer so decides.

The EDM regulation comes into force on the date when the Law was officially published, i.e. on 22 November 2021, except for some provisions relating to the participants of EDM pilot projects[2] and certain others, for example:

  • the regulations on the interaction between the “Work in Russia” platform and the employer’s IS will enter into legal force  as of 1 September 2022, when the employer will be able to directly upload documents to the employee’s personal account on the Gosuslugi website;

  • the requirements for the contents and the format of electronic documents established by government bodies are still being developed and will come into force on 1 March 2023. It appears that until that date employers may establish such requirements at their own choice.

What to think about and what to do

Companies interested in EDM should, first of all, determine which ISs will be used for this purpose (companies’ ISs and/or the “Work in Russia” platform).  The following also needs to be determined: (i) the list of documents and categories of employees subject to EDM, (ii) what types of electronic signatures a company will use, (iii) the procedure for signing documents, (iv) the date when EDM will be introduced, and therefore, the notice period for informing employees of the transfer to EDM, and other provisions. Moreover, certain other organisational and technical issues should be settled.  We recommend that companies which have not yet decided to switch to EDM should still gradually start preparing for EDM, since it is likely that over time EDM will become mandatory, rather than optional, for all employers.

Help from your adviser

Pepeliaev Group’s specialists have extensive experience of advising on all issues relating to employment law, including EDM issues. They are ready to provide support in the development of the necessary organisational and legal measures with a view to introducing EDM in a company.

In addition, the lawyers of the employment and migration law practice were directly involved in drafting the Law on behalf of employers. They are ready to provide advice in a complicated situation and, if necessary, to clarify provisions of the new Law that may raise questions.

[1]  Federal Law No. 377-FZ “On amending the Labour Code of the Russian Federation” dated 22 November 2021 (the “Law”).

[2] Federal Law No. 122-FZ dated 24 April 2020 “On conducting an experiment aimed at maintaining work-related electronic documents”.

Отправить статью

Pepeliaev Group and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea have renewed their cooperation agreement
Read more
Pepeliaev Group's delegation has visited Beijing and Shenzhen on a business mission
Read more
Pepeliaev Group’s Experts Have Achieved Exceptional Results in the 2023 Individual Rankings of Pravo.ru-300
Read more