''They will employ 45-year-olds on the condition that they write a resignation letter with open date''

Experts consider a criminal punishment for dismissal of pre-pensioners a good, but insufficient measure

''They will employ 45-year-olds on the condition that they write a resignation letter with open date'' Photo: Roman Khasaev

The Russian State Duma has adopted a law aimed at protecting people of pre-retirement age. Now employers who dares to unreasonably refuse employment or unreasonably fire only due to age face criminal liability. The deputies, lawyers and experts of the labour market interviewed by Realnoe Vremya positively assess the initiative, but consider it insufficient measure to protect the rights of the pre-pensioners. Read more in our article.

377 parliamentarians support

The Russian State Duma adopted the bill in the third and final reading, which is aimed to protect people of pre-retirement age, on 25 September. Employers face criminal liability for unjustified refusal of employment or unjustified dismissal. The new article No. 144 of the criminal code reports that for these crimes there is a fine of up to 200,000 rubles or in the amount of the salary or other income of the condemned for the period until 18 months, or compulsory work up to 360 hours.

The reading of the bill took only four minutes, the initiative was supported by 377 deputies. Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin stressed that three factions also supported its adoption. The pre-retirement age is considered to be five years before the pension payment.

The project on pension reform was introduced by Vladimir Putin on June 16. The special working group in the State Duma worked on it, the document received 286 amendments, it were submitted to the plenary session on 26 September. The president also made changes in the part of benefits. It is the early issuance of the insurance pension for people with long working experience (42 years for men and 37 years for women) and the preservation of the terms of the cumulative pension for those who participated in its formation. They are talking about raising the retirement age for men to 65 years, for women — to 60.

A preventive solution

State Duma Deputy Ildar Gilmutdinov calls it a preventive measure and explains its necessity.

''If you do not break the law, there won't be any criminal liability. No need to worry, they are unnecessary. It is rather a preventive solution. This is not the solution to the whole problem, it is only the prevention of possible situations. Other systemic measures are needed to preserve jobs and to support workers. No need to fear that they will be fired before the retirement age. Then it is always possible to remain unemployed, including there are problems with young specialists. We need to save the specialists. Another question is if a person for health reasons cannot work. But here we need separate systematic measures. There shouldn't be concerns about the adopted bill,'' Ildar Gilmutdinov answered Realnoe Vremya.

For whom is this law?

Deputy of the State Duma of Russia, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs Yaroslav Nilov does not exclude that there may be certain problems in the interpretation of the law.

''This rule will be rather unenforceable – like in the case of pregnant women, who also cannot be dismissed. Of course, it can be used as repressive one as well. The law has a positive side — the element of protection of people of pre-retirement age. But at the same time, everyone knows how we interpret the laws, and there may also be some problems with this. We need to take other measures to stimulate them. Good professionals are needed by everyone, but when you are forced at work and have to quit — it happens. The application of the law has to be very careful,'' Nilov considers.

They try to protect pensioners and pre-pensioners as much as possible from all the hardships so far. For example, the day before the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan held a meeting, which adopted benefits for this category of citizens. In connection with the upcoming raising the retirement age in Tatarstan, the age for benefits, which previously could be obtained only at retirement, have been approved in three readings. Since January 1, 2019, transport benefits, benefits for payment of housing and communal services, overhaul of apartments, purchase of medicines will be available to women from 55 years and men from 60 years. The document was sent for approval to the president of Tatarstan.

Deputy Chairman of the State Council Committee on Law and Order Rafil Nugumanov shared his opinion on the adopted federal law.

''It is great that it has been adopted, people will be protected by something at least. But another question: for whom is this law? Yesterday I talked with representatives of large enterprises, so one of them employs thousand people and there is no one older than 50 years, the other — two thousand employees, only one or two people who are 50 years old. Who will be frightened by the new law? It is necessary to support and create benefits for employers, such as tax ones. And now they will take 45-year-olds on the condition that they write a letter of resignation with an open date. When something doesn't satisfy them, the document will be signed, and that's it. At the same time, the pension issue is a huge problem in itself, which is long overdue. No need to intimidate, we need to support economically,'' Rafil Nugumanov told Realnoe Vremya.

As for other measures to support the population, he believes that it is worth raising the level of health care, increasing life expectancy or, for example, give easier posts for older workers.

Lilia Shakirova, managing partner of the Central Law Company, praised the measures of punishment of employers proposed by the deputies, but she believes that some may find a loophole here:

''With a competent approach, any law can be used in the interests of unscrupulous subjects, especially if the law has terms that are subject to ambiguous interpretation, such as the word 'unreasonable'. For example, in this case, the employer may not say that the person is not suitable for the position due to age, but simply say that there were candidates with higher qualifications for the position. The refusal will already be justified. Or another case – the method received widespread abuse such as receiving from the employee a written letter of resignation with an open date, so that the employer himself could insert a convenient date and thus say goodbye to the employee. Given that the field for abuse in this area is extensive, the law alone cannot do. The government should consider creating a different environment to ensure that people of pre-retirement age were also in demand in the labour market,'' says Shakirova.

By Yulia Kosolapkina