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Switching to e-commerce: a checklist of employment issues in Russia

Written by
ALRUD, a confident Russian leader in labour and employment law.
As many more companies switch retail operations online in the context of the Covid-19, this article sets out a checklist of employment and HR issues they need to keep in mind in Russia. 

The global spread of Covid-19 has led to significant changes in the Russian retail trade. This pandemic has forced millions of people to stay at home, avoid public places and, of course, buy less. To adapt to the new features of consumer behaviour, retailers need to promptly respond, adapt, or dramatically change their business processes and strategies.

The transfer of business to the online environment has ceased to be just a promising direction: now it is a condition for survival and further business development.

Experts believe that the penetration of online sales services will continue to grow and those companies that are minimally present in the online environment or that have not entered it at all, will be in a very unstable position.

At the same time, the transfer of business to online trading involves many practical issues, necessitating analysis of numerous legal points, including those relating to employment and human resources. The following checklist of necessary actions relating to HR will help the heads of legal departments and representatives of retail chains to ensure a swift and succesful transition to the online environment, from a legal and regulatory perspective.

Human resource management when switching to e-commerce

Strategic planning for the headcount required to switch to e-commerce

  • Identify the job roles that are needed for a successful switch to, and start of, work in e-commerce.
  • Analyse available human resources and identify employees who can be transferred to new areas.
  • Identify the job roles and employees who are not required for the transition and for the company’s e-commerce operations.
  • Identify the areas that require additional recruitment of new workforce.
  • Identify the key areas of changes to working conditions when switching to e-commerce (change in labour function, change in working hours, etc.)
  • Determine whether there is a logistical and administrative basis for the actual implementation of changes in working conditions.
  • Structure pay issues to reflect changes in working conditions for employees.
  • Set out strategies for termination of employment relations with employees who are not needed for the company’s switch to, and operation in, e-commerce.
  • Establish strategies for termination of employment relations with employees who are selected to continue the work, in the event that they do not agree on the new working conditions.


Formalisation of HR decisions taken

  • Arrange termination of employment relations with the employees concerned, in accordance with the chosen strategy.
  • Prepare the legal formalisation of changes to the labour condition of employees who continue to work for the company following the switch to e-commerce.
  • Identify and legally formalise any issues of material liability (e.g. for the safety of goods, vehicles entrusted to employees, etc.)
  • Meet with employees and formalise changes in labour conditions.


Analysis and structuring of migration issues

  • Analyse and structure any leases of personnel (outsourced staffing)
  • Arrange termination of employment relations with employees identified in accordance with the chosen strategy.
  • Determine, if there are any foreign employees who can be transferred to new areas.
  • Analyse whether new migration documents, to take into account the potential changes in job roles, job titles, and the region of work, are needed.
  • Structure pay issues in accordance with the requirements of migration legislation, especially for highly qualified foreign national specialists.
  • Review the terms of existing outsourced staffing contracts, subject to changes in the use of human resources.
  • Identify to what extent there is scope for amending, or terminating, the current outstaffing contracts that are in force.


To read the full ALRUD report on switching to e-commerce, click here.

For up-to-date legislative news and business-related guidance in connection with COVID-19 in Russia, see here: Covid-19: what you need to know.

Margarita Egiazarova
Senior Associate