Yekaterina Khamidullina, Associate, AEQUITAS Law

The era of globalization and information
systems development brings about new non-standard forms of employment designed
to meet the modern society needs.  One of
such new and flexible forms of employment is "remote work" that has
already been legislatively secured in most countries of the world.

The definition of "remote work" is
encountered in the CIS legislations, including Kazakhstan and Russia. Research articles also often operate the term "remote
work," while the EU countries and the US prevalently utilize the
"telework" concept. The
author's opinion is that the above concepts are basically synonymous.

What are the advantages of remote work for
participants in labor relations?  What
international experience of remote labor legal regulation would be useful to apply
in Kazakhstan?  The answers to these and
other questions are addressed below.


European Union

In 2002, the EU signed the Framework
Agreement on Telework, in which "telework" is defined as "a form of organizing and/or performing work,
using information technology, in the context of an employment
contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the
employers premises, is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.

The key points and the so-called
"minimum set of guarantees" to ensure teleworker rights, which the
Agreement signatory countries have undertaken to incorporate into their
national legislations and collective agreements, are as follows:

  • Data protection;
  • >Voluntary nature of teleworking;
  • Equipment (the employer is responsible for providing, installing and maintaining the equipment necessary for telework, unless the teleworker uses his/her own equipment);
  • Organization of working time (the teleworker manages the organization of his/her working time); and
  • Privacy.


The United States well deserve the title of
one of the most advanced countries in terms of telework legislation and
practice development.  Primarily noteworthy
is a very important feature of the United States' labor law, which is viewed as
an aggregate of two sub-branches: labor law for employees of non-governmental (private)
sector of economy and labor law for government employees, the latter regulating
the telework in detail.

The Telework Enhancement Act adopted in 2010
and covering all employees of federal executive agencies obligates each
executive agency to establish a teleworking policy whereunder employees that
meet the relevant criteria and have committed no disciplinary violations are authorized
to telework.

Pursuant to this Act (§ 6501 3), "‘telework’ or ‘teleworking’ refers to a work
flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and
responsibilities of such employee’s position, and other authorized activities,
from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would
otherwise work.

The teleworking policy to be established by
governmental agencies is to comprise, on a mandatory basis, the following

  • Voluntary nature of telework
    (telework is not the employee's right, and telework entitlement is considered
    on an individual basis, depending on the employee's personal (family) duties, health
    status, work specifics and other objective criteria allowing for a conclusion
    that the telework will not adversely affect the efficiency and quality of work
  • Guarantees that the telework
    will not diminish the efficiency of the governmental agency's operations in
    general, and effectiveness of the teleworker's work in particular;
  • Mandatory written agreement on
    telework to be entered into between the governmental agency (employer) and the
    employee willing to telework;
  • Absence of objective obstacles
    to telework, including necessity to perform work at the employer's location due
    to specifics of the work performed or official duties (for instance, work with classified
    materials or security guard's or receptionist's work, etc.); and
  • The employee's obligation to
    complete a special interactive telework training program.

The Telework Enhancement Act and the
Telework Guidance for federal executive agencies are available at, the official
website for telework development and promotion in the US.

Russian Federation

The Russian labor legislation came to
define remote work in 2013.  The RF Labor
Code describes "remote work" as "performance of a labor function, as determined by the employment
agreement, outside the employer's location, branch, representative office or
another separate structural subdivision (including those located in another
area) and outside the stationary worksite, territory or facility directly or
indirectly controlled by the employer, provided that in order to perform such
labor function and implement interaction between the employer and employee in
matters relating to its performance the employee is using
information-and-telecommunication public networks, including Internet.

The Russian law general provisions on
"remote work" point out the specific way of interaction between the
parties to employment agreement – exchange of electronic documents via secured
qualified electronic signatures used by the remote employee (person coming to
work remotely) and the employer.  The
following actions can be performed in the form of electronic documents

  • Review of internal labor
    regulations and other local regulations, employer's acts and collective
    agreement by the employee;
  • Provision of documents required
    to execute the employment agreement by the employee coming to work, however, if
    so required by the employer, the employee must provide the notarized hardcopies
    of such documents; and
  • Provision of explanations or
    other information by the employee.

Since the HR document circulation in Russia
is carried out in paper form, the federal law stipulates that the employment
agreement must be made on paper within three (3) calendar days of the date the
employment agreement has been executed through the e-documents exchange.

The remote employee can make himself/herself
familiar with the employer's order (ordinance) on employment agreement
termination in the form of an electronic document, however, on the day of such
employment agreement termination the employer must send to the remote employee a
duly executed hardcopy of the said order (ordinance) by registered mail with
delivery notification.

Unlike the US legislation, according to
which the telework agreement is to specify the telework performance location agreed
upon by the parties, the RF Labor Code requires that the remote employment
agreement specify the employer's location.


If compared to the EU countries, the United
States and Russia, remote work in Kazakhstan is poorly regulated at the
legislative level.  The RK Labor Code of 2015
contains only one article dedicated to this matter.

work is a special form of labor process implementation outside the employer's
location, using in the process of work the information-and-communication
(paragraph 1 of Article 138 of the RK Labor Code).

The common approach to remote work in the
Kazakh and Russian legislation is that telework means work performed outside
the employer's location on a permanent basis.  The employees have no legal possibility to
combine "stationary" (work at the employer's location) and remote work,
although in practice this combination is very widespread.  On the contrary, the EU and the US
legislatively secure this possibility, and part-time telework is deemed normal.

In Kazakhstan, the employer must provide to
the employee the means of communication and bear the costs of their
installation and maintenance, or pay compensation to the employee, if the
employee uses his/her own means of communication on a permanent basis.  The amount and procedure for the payment of
such compensation is to be set out in the remote employment agreement.  Upon agreement of the parties, the employee
may also be compensated for other costs associated with the performance of work
for the employer (for example, electric power, water supply, etc.).

Taking into account Kazakhstan legislation
requirements and international experience in the field of remote work, it seems
appropriate to include in the employment agreements on remote work the
following provisions:

  • Place of work (premises leased
    by the employer or employee's place of residence, or other worksites);
  • Employer's obligations (including
    special obligations regarding provision of the means of communication or
    payment of compensation to the employee);
  • Work and rest regime (established
    as per the standard procedure, flexible working time also possible);
  • Employee's obligations (it is
    recommended to develop a detailed employee's job description, execute full
    material responsibility agreement and non-competition agreement, define the
    procedure for using the property provided to the employee and set a limit of
    costs, if necessary);
  • Occupational safety (instruction
    briefings and trainings as per the standard procedure, special instructions in
    occupational safety recommended for remote employees subject to the worksite
    specifics); and
  • Working time control procedure (daily/weekly
    reports, contacts at established times, usage of technical means of
    communication, etc.).

The RK Labor Code establishes a fixed work time
recording for remote employees; the specifics of work time control also being outlined
in the employment agreement.

Remote employees are included in the
company payroll on equal terms with regular employees.  No preliminary medical examination document is
required to enter into the remote employment agreement, because remote labor conditions
are normal, not harmful.

One should also not forget that all
statutory provisions relating to classical employment agreement apply to remote
work agreements.  Hence, the remote
employment agreement must contain all the mandatory terms and conditions of
employment agreements provided for in Article 28 of the Labor Code.  If so agreed upon by the parties, the remote employment
agreement can also include other conditions not contradicting the RK legislation.

As a conclusion, it is worth mentioning that
both employers and employees are each year more and more interested in remote
work.  However, one should not forget that
remote work requires strong self-discipline and employee's personal
responsibility, accordingly, is not suitable for all.  To avoid conflicts with remote employees,
employers should clearly articulate all conditions "from the get-go"
and set them out in the remote employment agreement, which would obviously facilitate
monitoring of the agreement fulfillment by the remote worker.

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