News / 11.11.18

Deprivation of bonuses: eternal employee's punishment?

Gennady Voronov, a trade union lawyer has found a gap in the labour legislation, because of which a worker may receive the "perpetrator" stigma for the whole working life.

A legislation gap arises when the legislator fails to envisage some offense type in the adopted laws and the way to address it. In practice, it is usually treated as an absurd situation.

"The Belarus' Labour Code has a concept of disciplinary punishment: a remark, a reprimand and a dismissal."

Gennady Voronov, a lawyer from Novopolotsk, who cooperates with the REP Trade Union, has faced such a gap, when he was approached by a worker, whose labour contract was not extended because of a disciplinary penalty, as his employer had explained. The penalty was a deprivation of bonuses (premium); and the worker received it many years ago. All the above disciplinary punishments have the time limitation, prescribed in the Labour Code, – one year. However, the premium deprivation is not mentioned there at all! But it really exists.

"The Labour Code article on disciplinary punishments says that additional penalties can be imposed on a worker, namely, a premium deprivation, a vacation transfer and the like, not related to the above penalties – a remark, a reprimand or a dismissal. However, these additional penalties have no time limitation!" Mr Voronov claims with surprise.

He suggests that it was not the intent of the legislator to make the premium deprivation an "eternal punishment" – the huge corps of parliamentary lawyers just forgot to fix its time limitation:

"It turns out that according to the labour contract or collective agreement, a worker's contract is expended by five years, except for the cases, when he/she had a violation of labour discipline. However, if he/she has no remarks or reprimands within a year, all the previous ones are automatically cancelled … All of them, but for the premium deprivation – it's a sort of a 'life-long punishment'; and employers can now use it for non-extending workers' contracts."

Gennady Voronov believes that this situation needs to be addressed at the national level; and he began correspondence with many governmental agencies:

"The Ministry of Labour has already agreed that the raised problem should be somehow settled. However, amending the legislation is not a matter of one day or even a year; however, the problems of particular workers must be addressed immediately."

Gennady suggests a temporary solution at the level of local normative legal acts:

"We can't amend the Labour Code ourselves, but we can urge employers to amend collective agreements. They may object that it's also a lengthy way. Then, we should convince them that it's enough to issue an internal order on labour regulations, establishing the time limitation for this disciplinary punishment – the premium deprivation. The problem can be solved even at the factory level."

After Gennady Voronov completes his correspondence with all the state bodies, the will publish a detailed article that lawyers and union activists could use in their everyday work.

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