practice area articles
By Jyldyz Tagaeva and Alexander Ahn
Back to International Employment Law
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020
Changes in the procedure of obtaining employment visas and registration cards
As of January 2020, foreign employees entering the Kyrgyz Republic must apply for and obtain employment visas (W1/W2 type visa) which are issued for up to 60 days and subject to extension by the Consular Department of the Ministry of Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. It is therefore essential for employers to instruct foreign employees to apply for and obtain these visas, given that other types of visas, including business visas, cannot be extended by the Consular Department in the Kyrgyz Republic. Applicants can now apply for a visa through the E-Visa portal and obtain an electronic visa instead of a sticker-visa in the passport.
Under the Kyrgyz laws, most foreign citizens must be registered with the State Registration Service of the Kyrgyz Republic within 5 business days of their arrival into the country. The registration card is issued for the validity term of the visa and must be extended each time the visa is extended. Previously, it was a requirement to obtain the registration card within 5 calendar days upon the extension of a visa but as of January 2020, the registration must be extended within 1 day upon renewal of the visa by the Consular Department in the Kyrgyz Republic. Failure to extend the registration within this timeframe may result in an administrative fine being imposed.
Amendments to the Labor Code
In February 2020, a draft law introducing amendments to the Labor Code was initiated and put out for public discussion. The proposed amendments include:
- setting the statute of limitations for disputes regarding recovery of unpaid salary to one year from the date the employee discovered, or should have known about, their potential claim. There is currently no statute of limitations for disputes on recovery of unpaid or untimely paid salary to employees, which means that employees may file a lawsuit to recover their unpaid salaries at any time with no time limits; and
- changing the penalty for untimely payment of salary so that interest of 0.15% of the outstanding amount is payable to an employee for each calendar day of delay. Currently, interest of 0.15% of the outstanding amount must be paid to an employee for each day of delay until the day of actual settlement, and interest of 0.5% of the outstanding amount must be paid to a terminated employee for each day of delay until the day of actual settlement. The total amount of interest must not exceed 200% of the outstanding amount.
The proposed amendments are still under discussion at the time of writing.
Additional benefits and guarantees to healthcare workers
The Law on 'Status of Healthcare Workers' was amended in June 2020. Pursuant to the amendments, the Ministry of Healthcare is obliged to ensure transportation of healthcare workers of state and municipal health organisations to and from their place of work and to provide them with the necessary personal protective equipment and appropriate working conditions necessary for carrying out professional activities during the state of emergency. In addition, the healthcare workers of state and municipal health organisations are entitled to: (i) compensation for carrying out activities during the state of emergency; and (ii) a lump sum payment and severance allowance in the event of disability or death during performance of their duties.
The labour laws of the Kyrgyz Republic do not regulate telecommuting or remote working. When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the Kyrgyz Republic announced a state of emergency, employers faced uncertainty related to regulating labour relations with their employees. The absence of a legal basis for switching employees to telecommuting forced the Kyrgyz Government to make changes to the Labor Code, by introducing the concept of telecommuting and regulation of labour relations and other issues related to telecommuting. The changes have been put out for public discussion and, if they are enacted, employers will have the legal framework and basis for switching employees to remote working.