On March 25, to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, President Putin announced that March 30 through April 3, 2020 would be paid “non-working days” for employees (Presidential Order No. 206 “On Declaring Non-Working Days in the Russian Federation”, dated March 25, 2020).1 The Order raised many questions, including with respect to which organizations are exempt and how it would be enforced. For more details, please see our recent Dechert OnPoint here.
On March 28, 2020, the Russian Government provided clarifications to the Order in “Resolution No. 762-р, dated March 27, 2020” (the Resolution), which was then further replaced by a new version, with even further clarifications, under the same number, on March 29, 2020.2 This Resolution clarifies the definition of “organizations which provide the population with essential goods”. These clarifications are critical, as they confirmed that the “non-working days” announced in the Order do not apply to employees of organizations, whose activities relate to “essential goods”, starting from manufacturers to trading companies.
Below are the key takeaways of the Resolution;
1. The Resolution approves the Recommended List of Essential Non-Food Goods, which includes:
- sanitary goods (mask, sanitizer, soap, toilet paper, etc.)
- products for children (diapers, baby bottles for feeding, etc.)
- some other “essential” goods (matches, candles, petrol, etc.)
2. This list was significantly shortened from the initial version of the Resolution, which originally included goods such as electrical equipment, cable products, computer, electronic and optical equipment, packages, labels, price tags and till rolls. These have all now been removed from the Recommended Essential Non-Food Goods List. As a result, fewer organizations will formally fall under the exception from the Order.
3. All organizations involved in the product supply chain of “essential goods” are included into the definition of “organizations which provide the population with essential goods” and, thus, should continue operations during the announced “non-working days”.
4. The regional authorities have the right to make specific additions to the Recommended List of Essential Non-Food Goods list, on a case-by case basis, depending on public health and sanitation issues.
5. The Resolution does not directly mention “organizations which provide the population with food”. However, since the general purpose of the Resolution is to clarify sub paragraph “в” of paragraph 2 of the Order which refers to "organizations providing the population with food and the essential goods", it is reasonable to assume that the relevant clarifications provided by the Resolution should apply to “organizations providing the population with food” and that all organizations in the product supply chain of food should continue operations during the announced “non-working days”.
6. If an organization sells goods that are included in at least one of the “essential goods” categories above, such organization is also allowed to sell non-essential goods during the “non-working days”. Moreover, remote sales (i.e. Internet shopping) are permitted with respect to both food and non-food products (except for those items whose sale is generally prohibited or limited in Russia) during the “non-working days”. With regards to catering, such services can be provided, but exclusively on a self-pick-up or delivery basis. Therefore, related service providers, including:
- transport-logistical companies;
- logistical complexes;
- organizations providing packaging and similar services;
- distribution centres; and
- delivery and courier service providers
The above organization should, therefore, also be permitted to continue operations during the “non-working days”, although this is not specifically stated in the text of the Resolution.
Given the current situation, it is advisable that all companies, which continue to operate during the “non-working days”, develop internal regulations confirming that they fall under one of the exceptions specified in the Order and adopt the necessary measures recommended/required by Russian authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Russia., including providing employees with appropriate documentation stating that the employee’s work is covered by both the Order and the Resolution.
At this point it is unclear whether the Order will be extended beyond the end of this week and, if yes, whether the “non-working days” will be provided on a paid or unpaid basis. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new developments occur.
For more information on this topic reach out to your regular Dechert contact who would be happy to speak with you.
For further Dechert OnPoints on the global impact of COVID-19, please click here.