Attorney at Law at Stepanovski, Papakul and Partners, Oksana Puchkovskaya, dealt with the question: can an employment contract with an international company be a priority in this employee’s relationship with the local office of this international company?
An employee was fired from the Belarussian office of a large international company.
At the moment of the dismissal, the Employee was paid the final payment, and a supplementary agreement to the employment contract was signed in which the Employee acknowledged that he received all payments, including “vacation pay”, and had no claims against the Employer.
Afterwards, the Employee filed suit to the court of the Republic of Belarus to recover compensation for unused days of vacation, as well as compensation for each day of settlement delay upon dismissal. As a result, the recovery amount was about 30 000 Euro. The Employer didn’t agree with the claims of the former Employee.
The international company has extended its standards, rules and order to its Belarusian office. All registrations were carried out in an electronic system, one for all its the organizations and branches located in different countries. However, the international company didn’t take into account the peculiarities of our labor legislation.
The Employee himself indicated his days of annual leave in a special program, coordinated them with the director of the Belarusian office via e-mail. According to data of this program, he used all his vacation days and even some more.
The days of his absence indicated in the special program corresponded to the days of the Employee’s departure from Minsk abroad and arrival back, which indirectly confirmed his absence at work during this period. However, in accordance with the Belarusian legislation, no leave documents were issued, relevant payments were not made. The Employer considered these days as workdays and the Employee was paid a salary for them.
This situation was described to the court and there were many questions to both sides. Is the supplementary agreement valid or void? How to assess its terms: as a waiver of the right or as a fixation of the true situation and agreements of the parties? The vacation days were taken, but not documented, and the unconscientious Employee decided to use this situation for his own profit?
It was clear for the both sides that the “battle” in the court would be serious and it wouldn’t be finished with only one claim. As a result, the court proceeding will be prolonged for at least half a year and will result in a small fortune for the both sides.
Therefore, the parties agreed to negotiate, according to the results of which only 1/5 of the required amount was paid to the Employee, and the Employer retained its funds in the amount of more than 20,000 Euros.
Entering into the Belarusian market, international companies don’t fully take into account local legislation. So it happened in this very case.
According to the rules of the international company, an Employee’s arrangements with this international company is a priority over the employment contract with a local company. Such an approach may take place, but only when taking into account local legislation, in this case – Belarusian one. Policies and regulations of an international company must be adapted and synchronized with local laws. It is necessary since, in particular, the Belarusian court examines the documents from the point of view of the Belarusian legislation. The priority will be given to the employment contract with the Belarusian company, and not to the Employee’s contract with the parent international company.
We should not forget about the timely exchange of information between the local and central offices of the international company about the plans of the employee and his agreements with the employer.
Foreign companies should take this into account when entering into the Belarusian market.
And Attorneys at Law of “Stepanovski, Papakul and Partners” are always ready to help in identifying, eliminating and solving the problems of employers with their employees.