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Q: In Russia, may an employee who originally worked full-time before taking maternity leave, but returned from maternity leave to work on a part time basis (at her request), now require the company to employ her back on on a full-time basis?

A: As a general principle, any amendment to the terms of an employment contract is permitted under Russian law upon the written agreement of both the employer and the employee.

According to the law, part-time work may be agreed between the employer and the employee upon hiring, or at a later date. Under the Labour Code, the employer is obliged to accept the request of a pregnant employee to work on a part-time basis, for as long as the special circumstances leading to this request exist.  Moreover, it is very important to note that employers are not allowed to terminate employment contracts with female employees who have children of up to the age of three, except for under certain special circumstances.

It is very important to examine all the documentation concerning the original transfer to part-time work and all subsequent changes – including any records of conversations that took place at the time. It is a logical conclusion from the pattern of hours over time that the individual was working back towards full-time employment. Has it ever been agreed otherwise? If you are happy to resume the full-time role it should generally present no problems – unless there are implications that go beyond the apparent legal situation.

We strongly recommend that you formalise the meetings with the employee and make a careful record of your meetings (including dates and times). Do not, however, record the conversation electronically without the employee’s prior permission.  It is always advisable that at least two people conduct the meetings – their line manager and a member of the HR team.