Russia ratifies the European Social Charter


Legal Update No. 56.

Goltsblat BLP advises that Federal Law of 3 June 2009 No. 101-FZ “On Ratifying the European Social Charter (Revised) of 03 May 1996” came into force on 16 June 2009.

Proceeding from the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms previously adopted by Russia, the European Charter in its revised version of 03 May 1996 (the Charter) lays down the key objectives and the main principles to be followed by the member States of the European Council in their respective social policies and in protecting their citizens’ social rights.

The Charter stipulates that its Part I shall be treated as a declaration of the goals to be pursued by the member states. In view of existing economic and social differences, the Charter allows the member states to select the provisions of the Charter’s Part II to be binding thereon, provided that they choose at least 16 of the 31 articles and at least 63 of the total number of paragraphs.

By this Federal Law, Russia has made its choice of Charter articles regulating the rights to work, safe working conditions, freedom of association in organisations, collective bargaining; the rights of children and young persons to protection; the rights of employed women to maternity protection; rights to vocational guidance and vocational training; the right to health protection; the right to social security; the right of families to social, legal and economic protection; the right of children and young persons to appropriate social, legal and economic protection; the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation without discrimination on the grounds of sex; the right to be informed and to be consulted; the right to take part in the determination and improvement of the working conditions and working environment; the right to protection in cases of employment termination; the right of persons with family responsibilities who are engaged or wish to engage in employment to do so without being subject to discrimination and, as far as possible, without conflict between their employment and family responsibilities; the right of employees’ representatives in undertakings to protection against acts prejudicial to them and appropriate facilities to carry out their functions; the right of employees to be informed and consulted in collective redundancy procedures.

In addition, Russia has adopted certain paragraphs regulating the right to fair working conditions (except for the obligation to provide paid public holidays); the right to a fair remuneration (except for the obligation to recognise the right of employees to a remuneration providing them and their families with a decent standard of living); the right to social security (in as far as it stipulates the obligation to establish and maintain a social security system); the right of disabled persons to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community (except for the obligation to promote their full social integration); the right to engage in gainful occupation on the territory of other Parties (in as far as it stipulates the right of their nationals to leave the country to engage in gainful occupation on the territories of the other Parties); the right of immigrant employees and their families to protection and assistance (in as far as the Parties are obliged to ensure that tax treatment of such employees is no less favourable than that of their own nationals and that such employees are permitted, within legal limits, to transfer to their home countries as much of their earnings and savings as they might wish).

For various reasons, a number of the Charter articles or paragraphs have not been adopted, including ones establishing the right to social security (in as far as it stipulates the Parties’ obligation to maintain the social security system at a satisfactory level and ensure that their nationals are treated equally when moving from one country to another or accumulating insurance periods completed under the legislation of each of the member states); the right to social and medical assistance; the right to engage in gainful occupation on the territory of other Parties (in as far as it stipulates the Parties’ obligation to apply existing regulations in a spirit of liberality, simplify existing formalities and reduce or abolish chancery dues and other charges payable by foreign employees or their employers); the right of immigrant employees and their families to protection and assistance (in as far as it specifies the Parties’ obligation to ensure that immigrants are treated no less favourably than their own nationals in terms of remuneration and employment conditions, accommodation matters, legal proceedings, etc.); the right of the elderly to social protection; the right of employees to protection of their claims in the event of employer insolvency; the right to dignity at work; the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion and the right to housing.

The current Russian legislation contains quite a number of laws focusing on social protection of the population and recognised as satisfying European standards. Yet the Charter’s ratification will require development of the Russian social security law to a higher level for its quality standards to comply with those of the Charter, especially in the context of the economic crisis. It should be noted, however, that no rights or principles laid down by the Charter, except for those required to ensure protection of rights and freedoms of third parties, public interests, national security, public health and morality, may be subject to any restrictions.

The member states adopting the Charter must submit regular progress reports on how they are fulfilling their respective commitments.

For Russia, the Charter will come into force on the first day of the month commencing after expiry of 30 days from the relevant ratification certificate being submitted for storage.

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