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How employers should act amidst the spread of coronavirus

In order to avoid the spread of coronavirus, state authorities have introduced new rules in various regions and cities and have also made recommendations to employers. 

We have examined the recommendations made by Rospotrebnadzor to employers as well as the restrictions imposed by regional authorities.

Table of Contents: 

Updates:

  • June 03, 2020: Special aspects and operating procedure for companies after the lifting of non-working days
  • August 26, 2020: Entry procedure for Highly Qualified Specialists during the period of restrictions related to COVID-19
  • September 04, 2020: New employer obligations for return of employees from abroad
    From mid-July onwards, employers will have to fulfill the following additional obligations:
    1. Inform employees leaving the Russian Federation that they will have to take a coronavirus test within 3 calendar days of their return;
    2. Check that coronavirus test results are available.
    (Chief State Sanitary Doctor Order No. 18 dated July 7, 2020 effective on July 15, 2020)
    Labor law regulates neither the procedure for checking tests nor the employees’ obligation to provide them. In case of COVID-19 infection, employers will be held liable, so we recommend all companies to develop internal regulations setting out all the conditions, procedure and employee obligations to undergo tests and submit test results upon their return to Russia.

Recommendations to employers to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Hygiene and disinfection

  • Provide antiseptic at the entrance of their premises so that people can sanitize their hands;
  • Disinfect: 
    • Regularly as well as ventilate premises;
    • Replace bar soaps in toilets with liquid soap in a dispenser;
    • Provide employers with disposable napkins or towels and disinfectants;
    • Schedule regular wet cleaning of premises;
    • Disinfect mobile devices, especially if they are used by several employees; 
    • Perform regular air disinfection using bacterial lamps;
    • Provide disposable tableware in kitchens and other eating areas. If employees use ordinary tableware, disinfect them. 

Provision of information

Rospotrebnadzor recommends informing employees about symptoms, methods of infection and preventive measures. 

To this end, it is possible, for instance, to use this site https://стопкоронавирус.рф/ on to which updates on the situation in Russia are posted and which also describes how the virus is transmitted, the symptoms to look for and provides prevention measures and other information.

Body temperature measurement

Employers may measure the body temperature of their employees and visitors as Rospotrebnadzor commented that this does not violate people’s rights: 

  • Employers are entitled to check their employees’ performance;
  • Visitors give their consent to body temperature measurement when they decide to visit a particular organization. 

It is recommended to use medical thermal imager to measure body temperature at a distance. 

It is also recommended to keep a log to record employees’ body temperature measurements. It would, in our opinion, be useful for employers to record such measurements 2-3 times per day in case someone becomes ill as the company would be subject to an inspection in such case. 

Interacting with other organizations

It is recommended to limit as much as possible face-to-face meetings with clients and partners.

If it is not completely possible not to hold in-person meetings, then:

  • Medical masks should be provided to employees;
  • More airing and wet cleaning should be performed during the day;
  • Employees should be provided with disinfectants. 

Business trip restriction

The number of business trips should be restricted as well as interaction with other organizations. Personal contacts and movements in the city and between cities should also be restricted as much as possible. 

Monitoring of compliance with self-isolation requirement

If an employee has returned from a trip where Covid-19 cases have been reported (China, USA, Iran, Great Britain, all European countries, Ukraine and Belarus), the employee should work from home for 2 weeks. This quarantine also applies to the persons who live with that employee.

We also recommend informing employees that if they do not self-isolate, this will result in further people’s infection and that they could face: 

  • A fine of RUB 80,000;
  • Up to 360 hours of compulsory work;
  • Imprisonment for up to a year.

If someone becomes infected and dies due to an employee who violated the quarantine, this employee could face up to 5 years of work suspension for violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules.  

Organization of remote work

Organizing remote work is a good measure to limit the number of people in the office, but for employers this entails some difficulties related to documentation as it will be necessary to draw up an additional agreement to employment contracts in this case.

What to do if an employee falls ill

If an employee has a fever or shows signs of an infectious disease, Rospotrebnadzor requests that he/she be removed from work immediately. We recommend sending employees home or immediately to a doctor.

If someone in the company has contracted the coronavirus, the employer must immediately provide information about all the sick person’s contacts upon receipt of a request from Rospotrebnadzorа. 

The decree provides that if a company in Moscow does not provide information about the sick persons at the request of Rospotrebnadzorа, the company could be brought to administrative liability under Articles 5.39 and 8.4 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses. The following maximum fines could be imposed in this case: 

  • RUB 10,000 for company officers;
  • RUB 80,000 for legal entities. 

If other requirements are not met, the company could be fined RUB 200,000 under Article 20.6 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses. 

If the virus spreads because a company has failed to provide information, the company could be brought to criminal liability and be prosecuted under Articles 140 and 236 of the Criminal Code. In this case, company officers could face imprisonment of up to 5 years.

What to do with foreign employees banned from entry

From March 18 to May 01 Russia’s borders will be closed to all foreigners, so work permit applications are not accepted for the time being and no visas and other permits for entry and work in Russia are issued. It is also not possible to collect any documents already ready. We have written a separate article about this. To read this article, please click on the link:

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