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On 7 December 2017 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation pronounced its Judgement in the case regarding the review of constitutionality of Articles 129, 133, 133.1 of the Labour Code of the Russian Federation

On 7 December 2017 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled to add the “northern” allowances to the minimum wage.

The case regarding the review of constitutionality of Articles 129, 133, 133.1 of the Labour Code of the Russian Federation was considered on 14 November 2017. The consideration of the case was initiated by the applications of Russian citizens Olga Deydey, Valentina Grigoryeva, Irina Kurash and Natalia Kapurina.    
History of the question
The applicants in the case are residents of the northern regions of Russia from the Republic of Karelia, the Irkutsk Region and the Altai Territory. When calculating their salaries, the district coefficient and the percentage increase for work in areas with special climatic conditions are included in the minimum wage. Courts refused to allow the northerners to recalculate their salaries, taking into account the allowances, which, in their opinion, should be paid in excess of the minimum wage established by the federal law.    
Position of the applicant
Applicants claim that, allowing the inclusion of the northern allowances in the minimum wage, the contested provisions violate the social state principle and the constitutional principle of equality, since workers who work in unfavourable conditions are given the same social guarantees as other workers. On this basis the applicants claim that the disputed norms are not in conformity with Articles 7 (Section 2), 17, 19, 37 (Section 3), 55 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Position of the Court
Legal regulation in the field of labour remuneration should be based on the principles of equality and fairness, which allow to determine wages based on the qualification of the employee, objective criteria of labour activity, taking into account the latter’s conditions for the implementation.
Remuneration for work not lower than the established minimum wage is guaranteed to everyone, and the size thereof is established simultaneously throughout the territory of Russia. However, the geographical location of the country obliges to take into account the negative influence that work in specific climatic conditions makes on human health, including the regions of the Far North. To this end, the legislator has established a system of special guarantees and compensations, including increased remuneration - district coefficients and interest allowances.
The Constitutional Court has repeatedly stressed that in the wage system the norm, guaranteeing to a bona fide employee a salary not lower than the minimum wage, must also be respected as well as other norms of labour legislation, in particular, the higher wage rule in the northern regions. Such an increased payment should be made after determining the amount of wages and meeting the minimum wage requirement. Accordingly, the district coefficient and the interest allowances cannot be included in the composition of the minimum wage.
Otherwise, wages in regions with special climatic conditions could not differ from wages in regions with a favourable climate. Thus, the guarantee of increased pay in adverse conditions would lose real content, becoming a fiction, and the right of citizens to compensate for increased costs would be violated. The constitutional principles of equality and fairness would also be violated. These principles establish the duty of the state to guarantee wages based on fair, objective criteria and to prevent blanket application of the same rules to employees in different positions.
Thus, the disputed norms do not contradict the Constitution, since they do not imply inclusion the composition of the minimum wage in a Subject of the Federation of coefficients and allowances accrued in connection with work in special climatic conditions. The federal legislator has the right to improve the legislation in this sphere, also taking into account the legal positions of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. The cases of the applicants are subject to revision.
    
Presiding Judge Valery ZORKIN
Judge Rapporteur Vladimir YAROSLAVTSEV
 

 

07 December 2017



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