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It is almost impossible to dismiss an employee in Russia - is this right?

Tags: Essay | Personal management | Innovation | Dismissal | Russia | USA | Human development

We take an unpopular position and explain why this is bad for the economy.

Russian legislation practically prohibits the dismissal of employees on the employer's initiative. If the organization have no economic problems, then it will be enough for you to appear at work on time and be sober, to do something during work (without any result) - and employment will be practically guaranteed. HR portals are full of articles about the techniques of proper dismissal - the dismissal of an unsuccessful employee is like a legal special operation. And, on the contrary, the employee himself can quit company with a simple notification in 2 weeks - it does not matter how much effort and time is invested in him. The company have to find a replacement for the technical director of a complex manufacturing enterprise in the same period as the cashier it retail store.

Russian labour code is very employee oriented, but politicans usually don't like raise this topic.

The deputy or politician who dares to raise this topic will inevitably suffer reputational losses. This is about the same as saying publicly “state have no money, you should survive as you can.” There is no public discussion at all. We remain a country where a significant part of the population does not strive for large incomes, is focused on minimum guarantees and perceives any attack on them as a personal insult. The population, the vast majority of which are hired workers (with a minimum of small business owners and individual entrepreneurs), is naturally not interested in employer-oriented labor legislation and will be painful to accept such offers. Politicians inside the State Duma and other decision-making bodies are indifferent itself to clauses of the Labor Code - their career is still formed according to other laws. Therefore they are always ready to take a populist position. As a result, all costs and risks are again shifted to the silent and small business, which does not have serious lobby power for such amendments to the Labor Code.

There is no threat of dismissal - a minimum of innovation and no motive for self-development.

It is typical for Russia where people have worked for one employer for many years (even at same position). When something changed, they turned out to be a failure not only in the company, but also in the labor market as a whole. Statistically, most people are inherently risk averse. Therefore, they choose guaranteed employment with small but constant incomes. With such a paradigm, it seems logical that companies should take the risk of sudden dismissal. But the problem is that entrepreneur take itself a majority of other risks. Entrepreneurs are also not a homogeneous population - someone is ready to take on a little more risks, someone a little less. The more diverse risks, the more reasons to close business and continue earn as salary worker.

I understant that I take an unpopular position. But it seems to me correct that in any problem or conflict it is extremely important to "get into someone else's pants" - to start thinking from the opposite side of the conflict.

Imagine that you are employing sellers and you need to sell any complex product. It means that it is not routine transaction for buyers, he looks, chooses, asks something. Imagine, that your seller chooses the simplest line of behavior - buyers come to him, ask questions - he answers them, if they buy - he serves them. He does not try to build a conversation, does not try to identify the need, does not ask open questions, does not even indirectly mention additional services, owns only a minimal level of details about the products sold and does not want to expand his knowledge. Yes, I forgot to add - seller comes to work on time, doesn’t drink alcohol, and is not rude to visitors. He does not perceive comments and your claims, he does not change her behavior strategy. From a formal point of view - he completely copes with his duties, there is nothing to dismiss. But sales are very low and you loss money.

Or, imagine you have a teacher / lecturer. He comes to the audience and just reads the same material. He knows the material at the minimum acceptable level, does not update knowledge, is not very interested in news on the subject. It does not work with the audience in any way - it does not seek to interest it, to engage it in the discussion. Often repeats banalities and cliches - the audience does not perceive him as an expert on the issue and is in no hurry to enroll in his courses. Do you want to dismiss him?

Such questions are especially important in complex and creative industries. There, employees are often required to find non-standard solutions, come up with something, and generate ideas. Sometimes deeper, purely professional knowledge may be required - and basic training becomes insufficient. You can’t work just according to the instructions - the clients are too diverse, the tasks are too diverse, you need to learn and get out on the go.

And will you go to a doctor who can treat only the standard and simplest cases? And prescribes the same set of drugs to all patients?

Having insurance in the face of guaranteed employment, many people stop in its professional development.

Not all people are motivated by professional growth in the chosen field. Not all and not always motivated by career growth. Having reached the minimum level required at a given workplace, they can stop in development. In other words, they work exactly as needed to get paid and avoid being dismissed. It’s like in the wildlife world - when a species finds its biological niche, it may not change for millions of years. Another good example is the times of the late USSR. The country was not just guarantees of employment, it guarantees employment for drinkers, bums and similar asocial persons. In the same time, the manufactured products were everywhere of poor quality. The result of such stagnation is that companies begin to create lower-quality products and lose competition in the market. When rockets fall or domestically produced plane crashes, most of the people thinks that this is due to the corruption reasons. People say, the bosses stole all money and it did not fly. Perhaps they did steal, but they are not enemies to themselves (it makes no sense to steal in such a size that the object you control doesn’t fly at all) - in such situations there will always be purely professional mistakes.

It is wrong to think that all the bosses around are sheer tyrants. And their only desire is to destroy, dominate, dismiss. To educate and train a competent employee is a long and complicated process (of course, we are not talking about McDonald's and similar employees who speak only “Free cash desk!”). If an employee relatively copes with tasks, and even if he works with some understandable and objective shortcomings, no one will usually dismiss him. Even if it is a personal conflict between the manager and the subordinate, it is easier to solve the problem by transferring to another department / project than by dismissal.

In Russia, there is only option to dismiss - to conduct labour certification. But certification tests employee skills in an artificial, specially created situation. People prepare for certification and tune in to it. It can help if your accountant does not understand accounting at all. But you, as a rule, cut off such candidates already when hiring them - by means of an interview with a department leader. But the problem may be the lack of motivation, the lack of initiative, the toxic character that harms the team - a thousand reasons that are not directly related to purely professional issues. Certification can cut off those who are motivated, proactive, but have gaps with professional skills. But dismissal of such workets is not always good option. It can be more benefits from learning of such people.

How other countries solve problem?

If you think that employer-initiated dismissal will lead to mass unemployment - most likely you are mistaken. Such dismissals will not be wide-spread. This is a typical situation when the tool itself is not important, but the threat to use it radically change situation. This is just the case when a gun hanging on a wall is not required to fire at all. But the employees: 1) will work better 2) will be more interested in investing in their professional development, planning their careers, and making sure that the enterprise cannot do without them. In their life there will be a little more tone and events. True, stress will also become more. But it can also be controlled and adapted to it too. All this may seem my unfounded reasoning - if not for the experience of other countries.

The situation when an employee can be dismissed without a clear reason, but simply at the request of employers, is called "at will employment". Proponents of this concept argue that, as in any contract, there should be equal rights between the parties - if an employee can leave at any time simply by notifying the employer, then the latter has the right to do the same. The opposite concept is “for cause employment”. Its supporters argue that the employer is initially in a stronger position and it is much easier for him to replace a departed employee than the latter to find a new job.

In a classic form, “at will employment” is implemented in a very small number of countries in the world, the most famous of which is the United States of America. The United States in general is a rare example of a state in which the most stringent capitalist laws apply - for example, we recently touched this topics, comparing the States with the socialist countries of Scandinavia (on example of Finland). But focusing on the wild market is what allows America to create new innovative products and capture markets.

Silicon Valley as a phenomenon appeared in the USA, among other things, because the “at will employment” rules were in effect in the country - the possibility of easily parting with employees perfectly corresponded to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Valley.

But most of the world, including the countries of the European Union, have chosen the opposite paradigm. But you must understand that even within this paradigm there can be very large differences. Typically, these differences appear in the following questions:

  • a list of reasons why an employee may be dismissed
  • amount of compensation paid
  • third party involvement in the termination process

Let us explain the described factors in a little more detail. In almost all countries of the world, the possibility of dismissal is provided for disciplinary (alcoholism, fraud, absence from work for no reason, etc.) and economic (staff reduction, relocation to another locality) reasons. A much more controversial issue - dismissal due to negative work results (poor performance) - this possibility is provided for in a number of countries (in Russia it is not explicitly). Even if there is an opportunity, it may be the most expensive option for the employer - the higher the amount of compensation paid, the lower the average for employees to fear for their employment. Finally, it is often necessary to involve a third party in the dismissal process - for example, a trade union, state body, court. Many countries allow the dismissal of employees by a simpler procedure for small businesses - this is in principle logical, since the relationship of the salary worker and small entrepreneur is closest to equal opportunities.

By the way, a good option, which is practically absent in the Russian business culture, but popular abroad is labor contracts. We are talking about labor agreements concluded for a fixed term - both parties can, if they wish, extend them or not extend them. This, on the one hand, guarantees a person employment for a certain long period, on the other hand, it allows him not to lose motivation and stay in the market - as there is always a risk that the contract with him will not be extended. Western business etiquette even has the concept of “contract year” - the last year of the contract in which the employee usually tries to show himself to the best possible side in order to renegotiate the contract on more favorable terms. In Russia, contracts are usually concluded only with senior executives (whose risk of sudden departure is especially great, and the risk of not being able to dismiss may be even higher) and a number of categories of workers — in other cases, the Labor Code prohibits concluding fixed-term employment contracts.

Criticizing Russian labor law, I must say that there are still a number of highly developed countries where the interests of employees are watched even more. The countries with the toughest working culture are, for example, France and Japan. In the first, dismissal is possible only for disciplinary and economic reasons (even tougher than in Russia, where there is an option with certification), and the dismissal itself can be easily challenged in court with consequences for the employer. Japan is famous for its culture of lifelong employment with a single employer - the possibilities for dismissal are also strictly limited by law.

But these are the most extreme cases. In practice, even without “at will employment” (as too hard and wild a variant), there are a lot of ways that can improve the position of the employer (and the competitiveness of the economy as a whole) and prevent professional dependency of employees. Does the Russian economy need this? The question is goal setting. But in a country where everything is bad enough with the creation of competitive non-primary products and the amount of innovation, this could be a measure that could revive the economy. After all, the higher the incomes, the higher the salaries at the enterprise — russians historically complain about their size. But without higher risks, there are no higher returns.

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