Deficiencies in employment rights of Russian CSO managers
How to solve the issue of inequality in the employment and social rights of CSO managers
Why CSO managers are often denied benefits and what legislative changes are needed to address this issue.
On 27 April, the Federation’s Public Chamber hosted a round-table event on “Inequality in the employment and social status of CSO managers and employees: Manifestation of problems and solutions”.
The issue was first raised back in 2019 at a meeting of the Community Forum. The problem is that CSO managers who receive no income from such work are still considered to be employed. As a result, they are being denied various allowances and social benefits such as child care for children with disabilities.
If a CSO manager reaches retirement age, he or she loses the right to an indexed-linked pension. Back in 2019, the Pension Fund sent instructions to the regions stating that CSO employees working for no pay should be treated as having non-working status when it comes to index-linked pensions. However, this is an “internal” document and, as such, cannot be quoted in these discussions.
Some managers lost their main job during the pandemic, although not in a CSO, and received unemployment benefit. However, having found their information on the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities as managers in a non-commercial organisation, the authorities withdrew their unemployment status and demanded the return of their paid allowance.
Such instances are being recorded by the HRC and have occurred in different regions across the country, said Svetlana Makovetskaya, Chair of the Permanent Commission for the Development of Non-Profit Organisations of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) during the round-table discussion.
According to Elena Topoleva, Chair of the Public Chamber Commission for the Development of the Non-Profit Sector and Support to SONGOs, Sergey Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, instructed the Public Chamber to develop proposals for amending legislation, in particular in order to allow CSOs to sign a volunteer contract with managers and free him or her from procedures involved in evaluating an employee’s performance.
However, little progress has been made in resolving the issue despite Kiriyenko’s instruction and several discussions on the matter, with no consensus yet on how CSO managers should operate.
A petition appeared on Change.org last month demanding the regulation of the status of not-for-profit managers working as volunteers. By 28 April, it had attracted nearly 400 signatures.
Pavel Gamolsky, the author of the petition and President of the Accountants and Auditors for Non-Profit Organisations Association, believes the problem cannot be resolved by simple guideline recommendations. In his view, changes are needed to the Labour Code, as well as to legislation on “Non-Profit Organisations”, “Charitable Activity”, “Employment” and “Personal Identification Accounts”.
The idea of solving the problem through legislation is also supported by Makovetskaya, who proposes, among other things, amending the Labour Code so as to allow CSO managers to perform their duties without an employment contract, as well as the “Employment” law so that they cannot be considered employed.
There is an alternative to this solution, namely, not to consider a manager as being employed if the highest governing authority within the CSO has allowed him or her to perform their duties without an employment contract.
Another option is to make adjustments to existing legislation that would distinguish CSO managers from those who work to generate income. Or ask the Ministry of Labour to draw up recommendations that would not require changes to employment law.
Boris Kravchenko, Head of the Commission on Labour and Economic Rights of the Human Rights Council and President of the All-Russian Trade Union Confederation, has suggested drawing up instructions for regional employment services and CSOs which would stipulate that when selecting a person to the position of CSO manager, his or her appointment should not be seen as an indication of employment. The same applies to work undertaken under a volunteer contract.
Recommendations will be drafted in the light of the round-table discussions and working groups established with representatives from the Public Chamber and HRC to adopt proposals that address the problem, as well as monitoring the situation.