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What the draft Labour Code holds for working women

26.01.2011    source:
Maxim Shcherbatyuk
The author outlines a number of provisions in the draft Labour Code which worsen the position of working women

The author notes that quite a number of the legal norms in the present Labour Code regarding the system of benefits and supplementary rights have been retained.  These include the employment guarantees for pregnant women and women with children; additional leave; the possibility of working part-time or being transferred to lighter work.

There are, however, a lot of provisions in the draft Labour Code which worsen the position of working women.

Procedure for dismissal

One of the faults in the draft Code is the wording of Article 118 § 2. On the one hand, this article prohibits dismissal of single mothers with children up to the age of 15 (except cases where the employer ceases to exist). On the other, it effectively allows the employer to dismiss them for not fulfilling or inadequately fulfilling their duties. From the text it is unclear whether such wording is deliberate or a mistake, however it is unequivocally true that such a norm worsens the situation for working women.

In addition, the draft Labour Code in the event of an enterprise folding, envisages the possibility of pregnant women or women with children up to the age of three and single mothers if there is a child up to 14 years. Whereas in the present Labour Code such dismissals are allowed on condition that alternative employment is found, this condition has been removed from the draft Labour Code. There is also no condition making it obligatory to find employment if a person’s employment is terminated at the end of fixed period contract.

The draft Labour Code does not prohibit the dismissal of women caring for a child up to the age of six if there is a medical certificate stating that the children needs home care. However extension of leave to provide care in connection with this is provided for in the new Code.  In such cases the person can be dismissed as soon as the child turns three.

Being taken on

In terms of guarantees when being taken on in a job, the provisions in the draft Labour Code regarding working women also fail to inspire optimism. The Code does prohibit turning a woman down for a job or reducing her salary on grounds linked with pregnancy or children under the age of three, or in the case of single mothers where there is a child under 14 or a disabled child. At the same time there is no provision, as in the current Code of Labour Laws, which stipulates that in turning a person down for a job, the owner is obliged to give the reason in writing. There is also no provision envisaging appeal against rejection through the courts.

Conditions of work

With regard to conditions of work for working women, current legislation provides for considerably higher standards than those envisaged in the draft Labour Code. This applies, for example, to work at night. The draft Code envisages restrictions on engaging a person in night work only in the case of women who have a child aged up to 14 or a disabled child, while the present legislation establishes such a restriction in the case of all working women and allows such engagement only in particular fields and even then as a temporary measure.

It is important to note that even the ban on engaging women with a child aged up to 14 or a disabled child in work during the night in the draft Labour Code is phrased in such a way that on application these women can also be engaged in such work.

In addition, Article 176 of the current Code of Labour Laws does not allow engagement in overtime or work at weekends, or being sent on business trips in the case of pregnant women or women with children under three. In the draft Labour Code, if their consent is given in writing, involvement of pregnant women or women with children under three in all such work (with the exception of an absolute ban on business trips for pregnant women) is entirely possible.

The draft Labour Code lacks the present provisions regarding trips to a sanatorium or holiday accommodation free of charge or discounted for pregnant women or women who have children aged up to 14 or a disabled child.

There is also no obligation for enterprises to provide such people with material assistance.

One must conclude that the provisions of the draft Labour Code on working women are a step backwards in comparison with the existing regulation and can be seen as impinging on or restricting the rights of employees.

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