12 most asked questions on Russian employee monitoring laws

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1. Is employee monitoring legal in Russia?

Yes. Employee monitoring is legal in Russia. Art. 21 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation requires employees to conscientiously perform labor duties assigned to them by the employment contract by the employment contract. In that same vein, Art. 22 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation requires the employer to provide all the tools necessary for employees to execute their work duties, and the employer has the right to monitor work performance on these devices. That said, all parties involved in the monitoring process must be adequately informed of the monitoring and reasons.

2. Is it legal to monitor company’s computers?

Yes, monitoring company computers are legal and a necessity in Russia.According to Art. 22 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, the employer must provide all the tools necessary for employees to perform their labor duties. In the modern workplace, computers are labor tools. Therefore, if the employer provides the computer, they have the right to control usage. That being said, the law requires an employer who monitors employees to create an atmosphere of transparency. The monitoring process has to be included in the employment contract and policies. Notably, the monitoring should be during working hours, and no personal information should be collected to avoid legal misunderstandings.

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3. Is it legal to monitor employee internet and social media activities?

Yes, under Russian laws, the employer has the right to ensure that employees use the Internet for work-related purposes during paid hours. Employers are allowed to monitor internet activities such as websites visited, the amount of time spent online during work hours, and even restrict social media use during work hours. Employers are also advised to develop well-defined policies on social media and Internet use so that employees know what is acceptable or not.

4. Is it legal to monitor screen contents and keystrokes?

Yes. Employers have the right to monitor screen activities and keystrokes on company-owned computers, but on the condition that employees get a notification before the monitoring and purpose of the monitoring.

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5. Is it legal to monitor email content?

Yes. Please note that any email sent or received via the company device also falls within the category of work equipment. So employers can monitor any email that comes in or goes out of company device.
Under Russian labor laws, employees are advised to avoid accessing personal emails on devices provided for professional purposes.

6. Is it legal to monitor or record phone conversations?

Yes. Monitoring and recording phone conversations may be permitted on the condition that the party has given explicit consent or monitoring/recording is necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests. According to Art. 138 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, failure to obtain consent is considered a violation of the secrecy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic, and other messages.

7. Is it legal to use video monitoring systems in the workplace?

Yes. In Russia, video monitoring systems are permitted under the following conditions:

  • Surveillance should only be carried out for legitimate purposes related to the performance of employees’ work duties.
  • Before installing video monitoring systems or when new employees are employed, employers are obliged to notify employees of the measures taken to monitor employees (video surveillance cameras) and the reasons for the monitoring.
  • The video monitoring system must be installed in such a way as to protect the privacy of workers from interference by unauthorized persons.
  • Video monitoring systems should not be installed in washrooms, smoking areas, and corridors.

It is also important to have monitoring policies and consent forms signed to indicate that they have been notified and given their consent.

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8. Is it legal to monitor private messages and email content?

Yes. As previously stated, this depends on whether an email or a message has been sent or received from a private mailbox on the employer’s equipment/network. In this case, the employer is justified in controlling certain activities, such as sending or receiving private messages or emails, to ensure that employees perform their duties during working hours, specifically on company equipment. On the other hand, the law considers it a breach of labor discipline if the employer deliberately views the contents of their employees’ personal email account or messages.

9. Is it legal to monitor employees’ personal devices?

Yes, monitoring is justified in certain instances. For employers concerned about the loss of productivity due to excessive use of personal devices during working hours or when the employee’s work is carried out on a personal device. In the latter case, adequate measures should be taken to differentiate between personal and business use of the device.

10. Is it legal to monitor employees’ personal computers?

Yes. If the employee’s work duties are carried out on a personal computer, monitoring such devices may be considered a legitimate interest in protecting business information since the employer is paying for the employees’ time. That said, if the monitoring also captures data relating to the employee’s private life without consent, it is considered unlawful. Appropriate measures should be taken to distinguish between personal and business use of the device.

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11. Is it required to inform employees of the monitoring?

Yes. In Russia, this is very important. Referring to Part 2 of Article 22 of the Labor Code and Part 1 of Article 21 of the Russian Federation’s Labor Code , the employers are obligated to maintain the quality of work. The employee, in turn, is entitled to detailed information on working conditions and requirements. In other words, the employer must inform the employee of the monitoring. Also, Article 23 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation underlines the need for employees to be familiar with the monitoring process.

12. Employee monitoring policy – mandatory or not?

Yes. Monitoring policies, handbooks, e.t.c must come with the employment contract. Policies must show the organization’s legitimate purpose behind the monitoring and what is acceptable or not. All monitoring policies must:

  • State that company equipment is solely for work.
  • Define the purpose of the monitoring.
  • Explain the nature and extent of the monitoring process.
  • Specify measures taken in handling confidential or sensitive information. (If any is taken)
  • Point out acceptable and unacceptable uses.
  • Obtain written consent of employees to the processing of such data.

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Are there laws in Russia that protect employee workplace privacy?

Yes. Russian federal Laws ensure the protection of human and civil rights in processing personal data, privacy, family secrets, good name, and protection of honor.

  • Article 22 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation makes it clear that the employer must provide employees with a safe working environment that complies with the national labor protection requirements.
  • Article 137 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation considers the invasion of personal privacy, illegal collection or dissemination of information on a person’s private life to be a criminal offense punishable by the law.
  • Article 138 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation considers the Violation of the secrecy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic, and other messages to be punishable by the law.

Is there professional lawyers’ advice on monitoring?

Yes. Professional lawyers advise that when implementing employee monitoring, the employer must balance the business interests with the employee’s interests. The employer should:

  • Ensure that monitoring is justified for legitimate interests.
  • Notify the employee before commencing the monitoring.
  • Provide information on the nature and type of monitoring.
  • Provide information about the degree of monitoring and what will be monitored.
  • Take the necessary measures to ensure that employees’ personal data is safe.

What is the bottom line?

It’s always good practice for employers to balance their legitimate interests against their employees’ rights and privacy. Employers must also ensure that software complies with legal requirements and that monitoring is transparent. Everything about the monitoring process should be included in the employment contract, policies, and employee handbooks.

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Disclaimer
The information provided in this article is for general understanding only and not to be used as legal advice. To receive professional legal advice, please consult your lawyer.

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