We won’t create a new world: authorities’ measures to cancel ''wage slavery'' don’t impress everyone

Some consider the measures offered by the government insufficient, others – unilateral

We won’t create a new world: authorities’ measures to cancel ''wage slavery'' don’t impress everyone
Photo: nsn.fm

In a fight against ''wage slavery,'' the government offers to fine employers oppressing workers' right to choose a bank to receive a salary. Meanwhile, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Agency is for cancelling fees for withdrawing money in other banks' ATMs. The business community evaluates the authorities' intentions in different ways. Realnoe Vremya gives the details.

Government to punish careless employers with fines

Russian authorities have announced several possible novelties in the fight against ''wage slavery'' at once in the last days.

The first of them already has an embodiment: bills on rights of organisations' workers to choose a bank to get a salary were sent to the State Duma and handed over to consider by related committees. It should be noted that such a right existed previously, however, there wasn't considered any punishment for the employer for breaching it.

Now the government is offering to impose administrative responsibility: a warning or fine from 10 to 20,000 rubles for officials, from 1 to 5,000 rubles for people running a business without becoming a juridical person, from 30 to 50,000 rubles for juridical persons. In addition, the term within which the employee must inform the accounting department of his organisation about changing the bank is offered to be increased from five working days to 15 calendar days till salary payment day.

According to the Part 3 of the Article 136 of the Labour Code in its current wording, as a rule, an employee is paid a salary in the place he works or is sent to a credit institution indicated in the employee's claim on terms defined by the collective agreement or the labour contract. The worker has the right to change the credit institution his salary must be sent to by informing the employer about changing account details to pay the salary in written form no later than five working days to the payday.

Bills on rights of organisations' workers to choose a bank to get a salary were sent to the State Duma and handed over to consider by related committees. Photo: duma.gov.ru

According to the Federal Service for Labour and Employment, last year, there were detected 81,000 cases of violation of work remuneration, the tenth part of them are in Part 3 of the Article 136 of the Labour Code. So there were detected over 8,000 cases of violation of employee's rights to get a salary in a convenient way. Such a number might look insignificant nationwide. However, we can only guess how many people haven't made such facts public.

Considering the growth of ''liberation movement'', banks, in turn, are also looking for ways to increase the attractiveness of their proposals not only for classic payrollers but also for those who decided to change a bank on their own. So if earlier payrollers were a separate category to whom banks used to offer special terms, for instance, lower credit interest rates, simplified request consideration, today market players are already changing their work. For instance, if a person regularly deposits money to his usual card, some banks began considering such a client in line with usual salary receivers, offering him the same privileges.

Bankers expect clients' redistribution

The business community expects that in case the bills are adopted, employees will really have more freedom, which, in turn, can bring to a rise in the outflow of clients, but Realnoe Vremya's interlocutors have different scales of amazement at the expected changes in legislation.

Director of Rosbank's office in Kazan Ruslan Yulbarisov sees advantages in the novelty: ''With the imposition of fines, every bank will be more vigorously fight for individual clients' payroll cards, which means, they will improve both their product line and service to remain a number one bank for their client.'' The expert expects that the migration of clients between banks to implement this initiative, undoubtedly, will increase, ''as the payroll business is a B2B and B2C business''.

Moscow Credit Bank agrees that such an initiative will help in disputable situations when an employee is refused to be paid a salary to the card he chose for some reasons. However, the bank doesn't forecast a significant migration of payrollers. ''Apart from cash withdrawal, the market has proposals with free P2P transfers, which allow the client to choose which bank's card to use on his own. Payroll clients are really an interesting audience for banks, as their financial situation is easy to control and evaluate, however, the interest rate and the rate of the bank's other offers are anyway considered individually as a totality of factors,'' warns director of the Department of Acquiring and Salary Project Development at MCB Yevgeny Medvedev.

Answering a question about the prospects of the new measures, Realnoe Vremya's interlocutor from the top 20 banks admits that employers have different tools to influence employees. ''Moreover, there are both soft barriers when the employer ''recommends'', and the employee, in fact, doesn't understand his right to choose a bank, and hard barriers when the employer refused to send the salary to the bank the employee chose, and only a few of them are ready to be in conflict with the employer. Such a conflict, in fact, means a new job, and regulation with fines isn't effective,'' the expert says.

Employee who consciously 'chose' a bank monthly loses about 1%

In his opinion, the effective solution shouldn't be a burden for the employers' accounting department – ''now the reception of the employee's every request of this kind to send the salary to his favourite bank requires the accountant to manually book in the accounting system. The employer's accounting department either must receive an account from such a system automatically where the employee's salary is sent or he must pay the salary to a single account (for instance, the individual insurance account number) like in case of pensions''. A digital solution might become a solution in the situation when a citizen will have a chance to indicate a bank on his own like in online state services. In this case, conflicts with the employer can be avoided.

Moreover, according to the interlocutor, a new bank the employee chose himself can offer him no less concessionary terms (as it happens to wage earners who were registered all together), he adds: ''We should understand that big banks paying salaries don't deal with charity. In fact, an employer who ''chose'' a bank paying salaries monthly loses about a per cent of his salary. This is expressed in worse card terms, the bank's loyalty programmes that are turned off or not offered by default.''

Now the reception of every request of the employee of this kind to send the salary to his favourite bank requires the accountant to manual book in the accounting system. Photo: курсы-обучения.рф

The main payroll bank, on the contrary, earn from a relatively cheap bank balance. Such cheap funding and understanding of the real level of income to evaluate credit risks provide low cost of credit, the expert notes. A bureau of incomes like the bureau of credit history could mitigate the problem, he offers. As for talks that the novelty might raise credit rates for organisations, the interlocutor explains: ''This focus is also easily explained''.

In fact, the employing company provides the payroll bank with a benefit of about 1% from the payroll at the expense of wage earners themselves. The bank can allow making a discount for this company's corporate credit or pay the company about 0,5% of payroll turnover, or reversely, or to the deposit rate.''

Yelena Shlotgauer, senior accountant of Gertek crane factory from Kazan, has a positive opinion about the news about the possible expansion of the term of notifications about changing a bank. But she considers administrative responsibility too much and admits that an employer isn't protected at all: ''What if an employee changes the bank every month?'' Moreover, the costs on transfers to banks outside the payroll project are an additional burden for the employer.'' Banks, as a rule, create special mechanisms and promptness of client's receipts, the expert notes. While transfers to employees' accounts in other banks is also hard work, as a transfer order is created for every employee, and, consequently, charges a fee. At the same time, Yelena Shlotgauer says if the employer is tolerant to his employees and fair with them, there are no obstacles – it's up to the employee, as a rule, employers don't impede and meet them halfway.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service's proposal to cancel a fee for withdrawing cash in another bank's ATMs became another initiative to fight ''wage slavery''. Photo: Roman Khasayev

FAS against fee for withdrawing at other ATMs, but banks themselves don't expect great effect from it

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service's proposal to cancel a fee for withdrawing cash at another bank's ATMs became another initiative to fight 'salary slavery'. Deputy head of the FAS Andrey Kashevarov made such an idea.

The anti-monopolists' intention is linked with the fact that today when choosing a bank for a payroll project organisations consider the coverage of the partner's ATM chain. The biggest banks with state capital are at an advantage in this situation, as historically, they have the biggest chains of ATMs. In addition, public banks have cheaper funding, and, consequently, chances to offer lower rates when lending to juridical persons. And this, in turn, gives such banks additional tools to attract organisations to payroll projects, which again is a source of cheap resources. It's a vicious circle.

In such conditions, smaller players have limited room for manoeuvre, which explains their interest in new measures on cancellation of ''wage slavery''.

In Kashevarov's opinion, a zero fee will allow employers to ''calmly choose a bank'', and ''it won't restrict non-cash transactions from growing''. The state is interested in transparent and controlled non-cash transactions. Kashevarov supposes that being aware of the absence of fees for withdrawing money in any bank, people will start withdrawing cash less. As an additional argument, the FAS representative puts an example of Great Britain's analogous experience with the proviso that their problem is linked with a reduction in the number of ATM chains. Kashevarov sees redistribution of banks' fees in such transactions among credit institutions themselves as a solution.

Many payroll card owners who don't like the current situation withdraw cash on payday and deposit it to another bank's card where they are offered higher cashback and higher interest rates on balance and other bonuses.

Many payroll card owners who don't like the current situation withdraw cash on payday and deposit it to another bank's card. Photo: pixabay.com

At the moment, it's early to say if this proposal of the FAS becomes a reality. However, many banks have already made such a step having created partner ATM chains with other market participants. For instance, if Raiffeisen owns about 2,000 ATMs, its clients can withdraw cash in 16,000 devices in different banks. Alfa-Bank has one of the biggest chains of this kind in Russia.

It's possible that state banks with a huge number of their own ATMs aren't excited about the anti-monopolists' idea, and this is why they refused to comment.

Bankers who replied to Realnoe Vremya's request admit that the consumer will take advantage of the cancellation of fees for withdrawing cash at ATMs, but they don't expect a breakthrough in the fight against ''wage slavery'' in case the proposal of the FAS is real. Alfa-Bank's press service notes that the novelty will simplify an employee's money transfers to another bank but it's unable to change the situation with ''wage slavery'' in general: ''Today clients have to withdraw money from their payroll bank's ATM on payday and then take this cash to a bank whose card they use for their daily purchases. Now he can economise on fees only this way.'' It's fees for withdrawing cash at another bank's ATM and for non-cash transfers to other banks (to 1,5% of a transaction's price). This is why people have to withdraw cash.

The annexation of Sberbank to a recently launched system of faster payments in Russia and reset of tariffs for transfer of money to other banks – such a measure will allow solving this problem more effectively, Alfa-Bank thinks.

Raiffeisenbank considers that not fees for withdrawing cash at other ATMs is the main barrier in the fight against wage slavery: ''Now banks are actively developing partnership that allows clients not only to withdraw but also deposit cash in partners' ATMs without a fee.'' Head of the Department on Development of Debit Cards, Packages of Services and Loyalty Programmes at Raiffeisenbank Ksenia Andreyeva says: ''In our opinion, the cooperation of banks in depositing to cards at other banks' ATMs is less developed now. This is why if there is a task to give clients more opportunities to change the bank to get a salary, we should consider an increase of the number of free deposit channels for banks and the process of joining the salary project in general.''

Realnoe Vremya's interlocutor from the top 20 banks also modestly evaluated the idea of the FAS: ''This measure can partly help but won't solve the problem systematically.'' The expert sees the creation of a mechanism when an employee can choose a payroll bank without the employer as a systematic solution. For instance, the Ministry of Labour could provide the service through State Services portal – the employee's personal account where the payroll bank, payments from the employers, the employment record book could be indicated – it's a systematic solution and it's inspired by the digital economy, the interlocutor says.

It became known on 4 April about a new proposal in the fight against ''wage slavery''. Now it's made by the regulator. The Central Bank plans to consider a possibility to pay a salary through a recently created system of faster payments. The Bank of Russia considers the following mechanism: the employer sends the payroll with employees' phone numbers to his accounting bank that then pays the money by phone numbers to any bank.

By Ilshat Galyavin