Public Chamber to protect pensions of volunteer heads of CSOs

The Russian Federation’s Public Chamber to protect heads of CSOs working on a voluntary basis




Disagreements between officials at the Labour and Finance Ministries and the Russian Federal Tax Service may deprive some CSO leaders of their index-linked pensions. The Public Chamber has promised to get to the bottom of this.


The Public Chamber has asked the Finance Ministry to address the issue of index-linked pensions for heads of SONGOs who work on a voluntary basis.


The Finance Ministry proposes that CSO leaders should be covered by compulsory social insurance. Activists fear this could lead to them not having their pensions index-linked. These CSO heads are often pensioners “so it is very important that their pensions are indexed as is the case for all seniors who do not receive a salary”, said Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, Chair of the Public Chamber’s Commission for the Development of the Non-Profit Sector and Support for SONGOs.


How this issue arose in the first place


The problem emerged because of conflicting views among three agencies. In a letter dated 20 December 2022, the Ministry of Labour stated that heads of SONGOs whose work is not employment or civil law related were not considered to be covered by compulsory pension insurance and that their pensions should be index-linked in accordance with established rules for pensioners who do not receive a salary for their work.


In a letter dated 2 March this year, the Federal Tax Service (FTS) stated that heads of SONGOs who work without pay do not need to provide personalised information to the FTS. However, on 24 March, a letter from the Finance Ministry emerged that contradicted what had been said by the FTS. In it, the Ministry clarified the obligation on a head of a SONGO to submit personalised information on individuals to the tax authorities within set deadlines in cases where payments to individuals have not been made.


Elena Topoleva-Soldunova sees the reason for these differences of opinion in the fact that “the notion of a person working as a head of an organisation on a voluntary basis is relatively new and something which is not regulated under the Federal Employment Code”. In her view, the problem must be resolved through legislation. “The matter is urgent and cannot be put off any longer. We will be discussing the situation in the near future at a meeting of the Labour Ministry’s Public Council and making representations to the Russian Federal Tax Service”.



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