One of the questions that arise from foreigners, including foreign students coming to Russia, is whether they can work in Russia legally. The answer is yes, they can. There is no legal act that would generally forbid foreigners to work in Russia.
Although, some reasonable exceptions do really exist, such as to work for municipal service, or to work in organizations related to ensuring the security of the Russian Federation, etc.
Another side of this question is related to legal status of a foreigner (and organization). For example, an employer has the right to hire foreign workers if he has permission hire foreign workers; and a foreigner citizen has the right to work if he has reached the age of eighteen years, and if he has a work permit or patent. This common rule has many exceptions, for example, for foreigners who has obtained temporary residence permit or a residence permit, or for foreign students that work during their vacation, or for foreign students that work in their educational organizations in their free time.
Another specific that you should keep in mind is that personal income tax for non-residents is 30% of income, and 15% for dividends from participation in Russian organizations (whereas for residents it is 13%). Let me remind you that tax residents are individuals who are actually present in the Russian Federation for at least 183 calendar days during 12 consecutive months.
These are basically all restrictions that a foreigner would face if he is willing to be employed.
The prohibition of employment discrimination is one of the most important principles of modern labor law. The rules on the prohibition of discrimination are contained in Art. 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the numerous Conventions of the International Labor Organization
The legal restrictions in hiring may only be related to the professional qualities of the employee. No one can be restricted in labor rights and freedoms or receive any benefits depending on gender, race, color, nationality, language, origin, property, family, social status, age, place of residence, attitude to religion, beliefs, affiliation or non-affiliation with public associations or any social groups, as well as from other circumstances unrelated to the professional qualities of the employee.
However, entering into an employment contract with a specific person seeking employment is a right, not an obligation of the employer. The refusal is considered justified in the event that the court determines that the employer was guided by circumstances related to the professional qualities of the employee.
Professional qualities should, in particular, be understood as the ability of an individual to perform a certain labor function, taking into account his professional qualifications (for example, having a certain profession, specialty, qualification), employee’s personal qualities (for example, health status, having a certain level education, experience in this specialty, in the industry).
Take into account thar a number of professions officially require the candidate’s compliance with the statutory requirements of professional standards. In the candidate doesn’t match with these requirements, the employer may refuse the applicant without risk of being accused of discrimination. For example, special requirements are imposed on workers in the transport sector, teachers, people engaged in underground works etc.
In addition, what is very important, it is forbidden to refuse to conclude an employment contract with women for reasons related to pregnancy or having children. This is due to the fact that, under Russian law, pregnant women and people with children are provided with additional guarantees and benefits. In addition, women around 30 years old are under risk to be denied to be employed, as employers are afraid of the possibility of pregnancy. Not wanting to incur additional costs, employer might ask job applicants personal questions, such as about the presence of a spouse, her relationship with him and plans for the birth of a child. Such behavior of the employer would also be illegal. You do not have to answer such questions, and if you do not want to, you can politely turn the conversation in a different direction, kindly explaining that you are not ready to discuss it.
In job advertisements, it is prohibited to mention any direct or indirect restrictions of rights or the establishment of direct or indirect benefits depending on gender, race, color, nationality, language, origin and other circumstances not related to the professional qualities of employees, except in cases in which the right or duty to impose such restrictions or advantages is provided by federal laws.
For example, a job advertisement such as “A good-looking girl between the ages of 20 and 25 is required to work as a secretary”, or “We are looking for drivers with experience, Russian men aged 25 to 35 years old“ – would be illegal and discriminatory.
Unjustified refusal to enter into an employment contract, and other restrictions or discrimination is prohibited by law.
For such a violation of labor laws, the employer may be held administratively liable.
If you think that your potential employer could have committed some violations, and if you are still willing to prove your right to work at this employer, you might protect you rights with legal means, showing that you are aware of some violations and not quite agreeing with them, including protection in court.
The fact of discrimination can be proved. To do this, request from the employer who refused to accept you as an employee a motivated refusal in writing, no later than within 7 working days from the date of such a request.
Persons who consider that they have been subjected to discrimination in sphere of labor are entitled to apply to the court for the restoration of violated rights, compensation for material damage and compensation for moral damage.
However, it is very difficult to prove the fact of discrimination, as employer can hide behind legitimate reasons, such as lack of experience or qualifications of the applicant. Thus it might need professional legal assistance.
I am wishing you to enjoy your labor rights with no discrimination.
Anna S. Menshova,
Lawyer and Legal Adviser,
Saint Petersburg, Russia