February 10 – February 16, 2014

Working conditions as harsh as ever

The situation has not changed
Working conditions as harsh as ever

The workforce has not become more efficient, regardless of Lukashenko’s order to improve hiring mechanisms by expanding the usage of labour contracts and requesting references from previous jobs. Threats as a personnel management mechanism have been used for a while and can no longer improve efficiency.

Over 90% of workers in Belarus have signed labour contracts. According to the Trade Union Federation of Belarus (TUFB), almost all Belarusians work on a fixed-term contract. Of these, 35 % are concluded for 3-5 year-period, 31% – for 1-3 years, and 30% for a year. There is virtually no alternative to a term labour contract. Between 80% and 100% of public servants work under labour contracts. Current practices are considered to be well-established and not requiring changes. The most recent trend is that there has been a slight increase in the use of 5-year term labour contracts.

For example, in healthcare (employment in healthcare, monitoring data of December 31st, 2013) 239 221 contracts were signed (89.3% of the total workforce). In Minsk Oblast, 65% of healthcare employees signed a term contract, in the city of Minsk – 93.1%. In 2013, 75,229 new contracts were concluded (31.5% of the total number). Of the total number, contracts for one to three years make up 32.6% (78,052 contracts) and contacts for three to five years – 35.9% (85,940 contracts).

There are no unlimited-term contracts in Belarus, which could be concluded with workers who have worked longer than three years in a company. Automatic extension of a fixed-term contract for indefinite duration, unless one of the parties expressed reluctance to continue working, is also not practised.

Further tightening of labour relations demanded by president Lukashenko would be difficult to implement. Wages are shrinking, as are social benefits, and there are no longer enough positive stimuli to ensure workers’ loyalty, especially given that labour migration to Russia is relatively easy.

For reference: the term of the contract is determined by agreement between the parties. The minimum contract term is 1 year, maximum – 5 years. Legislation also envisages unlimited term contracts. The employer may conclude such a contract with an employee who worked for at least 5 years and had no labour discipline violations upon the expiry of the previous contract. The employer is not obliged to inform about the reasons for dismissing an employee, if the contractual term expired.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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