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Armenian Ministry to Remove ‘Tough Soviet Regulations’ from Labor Code

Armenia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs intends to make amendments to the country’s Labor Code. The amended Code will simplify the obligations of so-called ultra-small business to employees: they will no longer be obliged to adopt internal legal acts or notify employees of deteriorating conditions, for example, about reducing wages or  increasing working hours within 60 days. Thus, small businesses will only have to change the labor agreement and make will make the necessary amendments with the consent and signature of the employee.

In an interview for Epress.am, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Tadevos Avetisyan assured that after the changes, the rights of employees will not be infringed; they will simply negotiate and come to a common denominator with with employers, thereby making labor relations “more flexible.”

According to the official, the policy on ultra-small businesses should not be as tough as that on large, medium or small businesses because they (for example, small stores) usually work in more competitive conditions and can sometimes close down if the employee refuses to make concessions and work for a lower salary.

The ministry also wants to get rid of the list of heavy, dangerous, and particularly heavy, particularly dangerous jobs, for which the employer had to up to this point pay the employee an addition fee or provide additional leave. This, according to Avetisyan, is “a tough regulation left over from the Soviet Union.”

“In Soviet times, the state was the only employer. We still have these tough Soviet regulations, but the state now is not the only employer. It, for example, establishes salary rates, but is the employer of only 120 000 workers out of 500 000. This list of jobs now entails that the employer will give its employee addition pay to carry out potentially harmful work. But this surcharge does not restore shattered health. Now we say employers should ensure high working standards. There are services that evaluate standards. If, for objective reasons, it is impossible to provide proper conditions, the employer must provide additional leave or pay, but has to negotiate this with the workforce.”

According to the ministry, enterprises with up to 10 employees are considered as ultra-small. In Armenia, they make up 95% of the total number of businesses and provide work to 20% of the country’s workforce.