Is imposed half-time illegal?

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If a worker disagrees with half-time, he or she may be laid off.
The Federation of Trade Unions organized a monitoring of the social and economic situation in the provinces at the end of last year. The survey showed that changes had taken place at 150 enterprises of our country.

13 enterprises had to send their workers on vacations and compensate 2/3 of the tariff rate to them, 10 enterprises paid no compensation, 117 – switched to the four-day week, 3 – to the three-day week and 1 – to the two-day week, - the information was published by “Zvyazda”.

ERB has got interested in the fact if such imposed half-time was legal or not. Could the state create a problem for itself by concluding contracts with workers? These contacts may now become an obstacle for changing the terms of work…

“Basically, it is illegal”, - says a co-leader of the Republican Economic Trade Union Alyaksandr Buhvostau:

“It all depends on the contracts they signed or whatever they had there… Did the contracts mentioned situations when it was necessary to work half-time? In any case, the question is about the compensation for half-time work”.

According to the trade union leader, employers have to warn their employees about changes in the terms of work a month in advance. And they should pay at least 2/3 of the wage to them for it. However, the majority of enterprises do not do it, - says Mr. Buhvostau:

“According to the Labour Code, 2/3 of the wages of the tariff rate should be compensated depending on the terms mentioned in collective agreements. However, they switch to half-time and pay no compensation for it. There are many cases like that. Workers are even made to write appeals for half-time work “at their won expense”.

Anyway, an employee loses a lot even if the half-time work is compensated for.

Alyaksandr Buhvostau: “The compensation for half-time work is calculated on the basis of the tariff rate. Tariff rates are very low. They are lower than the minimum wage. The minimum wage is 229 thousands now. Imagine, a person gets 1.5 millions a month but the compensation for half-time will be 2/3 of the tariff rate. It turns out that the wages get decreased by several times”.

However, it is almost impossible to assert your rights in such a situation. Workers may be dismissed if they disagree to work half-time, - says the head of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions Alyaksandr Yarashuk.

Can it be the reason for the fact that workers dissatisfied with terms of work have not went to law in Belarus yet?

Alyaksandr Yarashuk: “This is not a good occasion to claim that you want to work because there are numerous examples of mass dismissals. For example - in Russia and Ukraine.  I can tell you without any doubt that nobody has went to law. There is an idea that this is a challenge for the society and the whole country. Probably, every worker should bear the burden”.

Still, how should the proportion of the burden be defined?

Although a lot of Belarusian enterprises have switched to half-time, only MAZ has admitted it. Furthermore: a special press release informing that it was a one-week measure was distributed. The director-general of the enterprise Mikalai Davydzenka claimed that the wages would not be decreased:

“The administration of the enterprise has decided that some industries including the main production line should switch to half-time work. The decision about the number of work days will be taken depending on the situation. Tariff rates and wages are not going to be lowered now”.

We phoned the reference service of MAZ and they said that they did not have any information – it could become clear a month later…

MAZ reference service: “You do not know anything either. They have told us what will happen today, tomorrow, next week and this month… but we do not know what will happen after that”.

Photo by: photo.bymedia.net