On 1 July 2023, a new version of the Law “On External Labour Migration” (the Law) entered into force, providing, among other things, a new approach to the employment of foreign citizens and stateless persons without a permanent residence permit in Belarus (foreigners). The key changes are listed below.
No need to obtain permits to engage foreign labour
The obligation of employers to obtain a permit under certain circumstances in order to engage foreign labour has been abolished. Valid permits must be returned to the Department of Citizenship and Migration at the Regional Executive Committee (Minsk City Executive Committee) in the region where the employer is located (Migration Department) no later than 1 August 2023.
The list of foreigners to whom the Law does not apply has been expanded, and the duties of employers with regard to the employment of such foreigners have been supplemented
Among other, the following categories of foreigners have been added to the list of foreigners to whom the Law does not apply:
- Foreigners sent to Belarus on a business trip to work at representative offices of foreign companies for a period not exceeding two months. Previously, an exception (without a time limit) was provided only for heads of representative offices of foreign companies; this exception is still stipulated in the new version of the Law.
- Foreigners included in the list of professions to which foreigners can be employed without taking into account restrictions on the protection of the national labour market.
For 2023, this list includes the following professions:
1) car driver
3) driver of a tractor for agricultural production
5) electrician specialising in repair and maintenance of electrical equipment
7) specialist doctor (of all medical specialties)
9) nurse (of all medical specialties)
10) paramedic (of all medical specialties)
The list shall be revised annually, no later in the year than 1 February.
For employers who engage foreigners to whom the Law does not apply, there is an obligation to notify the Migration Department in the region where the employer is located in writing about:
- conclusion (or extension) of an employment agreement with a foreigner, within three working days of the date of its conclusion (or extension)
- termination of an employment agreement with a foreigner, within three working days of the date of its termination.
The list of foreigners whose special permits for the right to engage in labour activity (special permits) do not require a judgement from the Committee on Labour, Occupancy and Social Protection of the regional Executive Committee (Minsk City Executive Committee) regarding the possibility of the foreigner’s employment is set out in a new version.
Such foreigners are now considered to be:
- A foreigner who is engaged as the director of commercial company in which they are also a shareholder and who has professional knowledge, skills and abilities which are confirmed by documents on education and work experience of at least two years in the profession, as well as having a total monthly salary which must exceed by five times the total monthly minimum wage established in Belarus 1.
- A foreigner who is a highly qualified employee. Please note that from 1 July, a highly qualified employee is considered to be a foreigner who has a high level of professional knowledge, skills and abilities confirmed by documents on education and work experience of at least five years in the relevant type of professional activity, while the total monthly salary of such a foreigner must exceed by five times (previously by 15 times) the total monthly minimum wage established in Belarus.
The list of grounds for cancellation of the issued special permit has been expanded
The grounds for cancellation of the special permit now include, inter alia:
- non-fulfilment of any labour activity by a foreigner within six months of receiving the special permit;
- non-conclusion of an employment agreement with the foreigner within six months of receiving the special permit;
- non-payment by the employer of contributions to the Social Security Fund during the period of employment of the foreigner, in cases where the payment of such contributions is mandatory. This ground from 1 July is also a basis for refusing to extend the validity of a special permit (or to issue a new special permit);
- inclusion of the profession of the foreigner in the list of professions for which foreigners are engaged without taking into account restrictions on the protection of the national labour market.
Only a fixed-term employment agreement can be concluded with foreigners
Conclusion with foreigners of open-ended employment agreements and contracts is prohibited. Please note that in Belarus employment agreements (which can be open-ended and fixed-term) and employment contracts (which can be only fixed-term) are different types of employees’ engagement, implying different sets of rights, obligations and guarantees on the part of the parties.
There is no need to register employment agreements concluded with foreigners
The previously stipulated obligation for employers to register with the Migration Department employment agreements concluded with foreigners has been abolished.
Should you need legal assistance on employment and migration matters, please feel free to contact our specialists.
1 As of the date of publication of this article, the monthly minimum wage established in Belarus is equivalent to BYN 554 (approx. EUR 170).
The article was also published on Law360.com.