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Russian Federation: Government Shortens List of Professions in Which Women’s Employment Is Restricted

(Oct. 7, 2019) On July 18, 2019, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation issued an order shortening the list of professions in which women’s employment is restricted. (Order of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation No. 512, On Approval of the List of Industries, Jobs and Positions with Harmful and (or) Dangerous Working Conditions, in Which the Use of Women’s Labor Is Restricted, July 18, 2019.) The ministerial order, which will take effect on January 1, 2021, lists 21 industries and 100 occupations in which women’s participation is restricted. The categorization of these occupations as dangerous for women and their inclusion on the list are based on a special assessment of employment conditions conducted in accordance with a methodology prescribed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Women are restricted from employment in certain occupations in the chemical industry, metallurgy, oil production, coal mining, manufacturing of insulation, and some others owing to the harmful effects of certain compounds on women’s reproductive health.

Currently, women’s employment is restricted in 456 occupations in 38 industries. These occupations are listed in Government of the Russian Federation Resolution No. 162, Feb. 25, 2000, which the newly issued ministerial order will replace. The need for reducing the number of occupations in which women’s employment is restricted was expressed in the National Strategy of Actions for the Advancement of Women’s Interests for 2017–2022. The Strategy states that technological advancements have allowed women to work in the professions previously deemed dangerous and have made some of the previously restricted occupations redundant.

The ministerial order is an implementing regulation for article 253 of the Labor Code of 2001, which prescribes restrictions on women’s employment in certain hazardous professions. Article 253 establishes two types of restrictions on women’s employment in dangerous occupations: prohibition and limitation. Commentators on article 253 of the Labor Code have stated that the limitation on women’s labor in the professions listed in the Resolution does not mean that women cannot work in these occupations. Rather, it means that as long as an employer creates safe working conditions for women employees that are verified and certified by the state expert commission on employment conditions and the state sanitary and epidemiological surveillance body (Rossanepidnadzor), women can be employed in those occupations.

The Labor Code also prohibits women from working in certain professions in which they are required to lift heavy weights manually. According to a 1993 government resolution, the maximum weight permissible for women to limit routinely is 10 kg. (22 pounds).

While legislators were positive in their assessment of the shortened list of restricted occupations for women, Oksana Pushkina, deputy chair of the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) Committee on Family, Women and Children, called for the abolition of the list of prohibited professions for women, stating that the list “ignores scientific and technological progress and rather protects well-paid jobs for men.”