Labour disputes and their resolution procedure

Jan, 05 2024


There may be disagreements between employees and employers. For example, because of the salary, schedule and working conditions. If such conflicts affect not personal, but working relationships, the law considers them to be labour disputes.

There are different ways to resolve the conflict: the procedure for resolving labour disputes does not always involve legal recourse. Superior-subordinate disputes may begin at any time. Most disagreements are settled peacefully. Anyway, when a conflict arises, you should involve a lawyer for its settlement. 

When a newly hired employee is dissatisfied with the way he/she was (not) hired by the HR department, we deal with a labour law question. When an employee is suspected in property damage, inside information transfer or simple dereliction of duty – this is also a labour dispute.

Labour disputes types and their resolution 

Lawyers classify labour disputes and their resolution in different ways. However, most often we refer to individual and collective labour disputes. In the first case, a conflict occurs between one employee and his/her employer (s). If several employees are involved in disagreements at once, the conflict is considered to be collective.

Not every dispute or quarrel with a boss is a labour dispute by the law. A boss or a subordinate should report a problem to a special commission or court for receipt of an individual labour dispute status. The subject of such a dispute may be different: 

  • violations of labour legislation and safety measures, different statutory acts;
  • salary-related financial issues or vacation, sick leave, and compensation payments;
  • refusal to recruit or conclude a contract, law violation when conducting an interview or hiring a staff member;
  • any possible disagreements between the employer and the former employee.

Read more about the subjects of individual labour disputes in the Labour Code of the Russian Federation. This is the main document covering all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. However, this is not the only legal act regulating labour issues. Moreover, competent legal advice is often necessary for the correct interpretation of articles and provisions.

Collective disputes are disagreements between several employees and management. It is worth recalling that the conflict must affect only the issues of labour and its payment, but not personal differences that can also arise within the team.

Lawyers often have to face such violations as non-compliance with a collective agreement or a refusal of management to take into account an elected representative body of employees (subordinates have every right to create such a body to influence the drafting of local statutory acts). In short, the main difference between individual and collective disputes is the number of parties they affect. However, conflicts can also be classified by other criteria.

The nature of disputes can be considered based on the legal relations from which they arise. So, there are disputes that arise as a result of a working relationships violation. In this case, the dispute subject may be unpaid salary, illegal (in the opinion of one of the parties) dismissal, failure to form a work record, etc.

However, there are also labour disputes arising from the labour-related violation. These can be conflicts caused by the organization and management of work processes, the way a certain employer recruits and hires employees. This category also includes disputes caused by the violation of partnerships, attempts to interfere with the work of trade unions, disputes over vocational education and further training, material liability, supervision and control. When it comes to violations of the compulsory social insurance norms, this is the other problem from this category.

The procedure for resolving labour disputes in court or in pre-trial procedure directly depends on the causes of the conflict, its subject, nature, number of participants and other features.

Nature and subject of the dispute

When lawyers refer to the nature of the dispute, they imply whether it is a question of applying the labour legislation norms or changing, establishing working conditions.

When employers block the work of trade unions, interfere with the voluntary organization of employees, we deal with the nature of the dispute with the application of legal norms. If the management cannot ensure compliance with health standards in the workplace, this is also a matter of application of legal norms. However, if the conditions do not allow for effective work, the nature of the dispute affects the establishment of working conditions.

Finally, the subject of the dispute can also be different. As a rule, lawyers deal with disputes about the recognition of a right violated by the other party, or conflicts around the award of payments, compensation for harm and damage.

Methods of labour disputes resolution

There are two methods of resolving labour disputes: through the Labour Disputes Commission or through the court. As a rule, employees first apply to the Labour Disputes Commission. The differences can be settled at this stage if they have a competent lawyer on their side. In case the decision of the Labour Disputes Commission does not suit one of the parties, it has the right to appeal to the court/appeal against it in court.

However, the procedure for labour disputes resolution in court allows to do without the Labour Disputes Commission. An employee or manager has the full right to immediately apply to the judicial authorities by/after filing a lawsuit. Preliminary legal investigation by the the Labour Disputes Commission is not necessary.

It is also worth mentioning the special procedure for dealing with/hearing the conflicts when other bodies involved. The need for a special procedure for a dispute resolution arises when its parties are judges, prosecutors, investigators and other specialists directly related to justice.

Procedure for individual labor disputes resolution: brief description

Chapter 60 of the Labour Code thoroughly describes the way an individual labour disputes review should take place. As we have already mentioned, any conflicts can be resolved in two ways: pre-trial and judicial.

The pre-trial procedure assumes that a party who believes their rights are violated sends a written complaint to the Labor Disputes Commission. The law limits the time of the claim submission to 3 months from the moment a person learns about their own rights violation. Accordingly, it is impossible to complain a year after the conflict occurred.

However, individual labour disputes occur even with an already dismissed or not yet accepted employee. Such disputes can also be resolved in a pre-trial manner (only within 10 days from the date of filing a complaint). Moreover, the Commission has only 10 days from the date of filing a complaint.Lawyers warn those who want to file a complaint: make sure your application is registered, otherwise the complaint has no legal force.

The Labour Disputes Commission is formed from representatives of the employer and employees. Meetings are held outside working hours and with the mandatory presence of the applicant. The elected secretary of the meeting keeps the minutes, and the decision is based on the meeting results. Both parties to the conflict receive a copy of it within 3 days. The decision is binding, and if it suits both parties, the dispute can be considered settled.

Any of the parties may appeal the decision within 10 days from its receipt date. When this period expires, the decision of the Labour Disputes Commission must be put into effect within 3 days. In addition, if the Labour Disputes Commission did not consider the appeal in time, the parties can apply to the court. From the outset, an employee or an employer can make a claim and file it in court. Keep in mind: it is important to gather evidence for defending your position.

Procedure for collective disputes review

Until 2006, collective labor disputes were regulated by a special federal law. However, it has lost its force, and now it is necessary to focus on the Labor Code.

The procedure is different from the decision of individual labour disputes if a dispute occurs between employers and several employees. Dispute review in this case engages:

  • intermediaries;
  • Conciliation Commission;
  • labour arbitration.

Employees should formulate claims in writing and make a complaint. It may affect working conditions and salary, changes in collective agreements and local acts. First, the complaint is sent to the employer. Next, a Conciliation Commission for a dispute review is formed within two days.

As in the case of the labor dispute commission, this body should include representatives of both parties in an equal share. The Conciliation Commission thoroughly reviews the dispute within 3 working days.

One of the parties may shrink from reconciliation. As a rule, this is an employer who may even interfere with the Conciliation Commission work. Then the case is referred to labor arbitration. This body is formed from both representatives of state bodies dealing with the labor disputes resolution and the organization representatives. This body differs from the arbitration court in that it is temporary. When the dispute is resolved, the arbitration will be dissolved.

Following the results of the arbitration session, the decision must be issued in writing. Its execution is mandatory for all parties to the dispute. However, if the dispute is not settled at this stage, and the parties are dissatisfied with the conclusion of the Conciliation Commission, you can resort to extreme measures provided for by the Labor Code. That is a strike. The procedure for its implementation, the responsibility of the parties and other issues are also regulated by law.

Author of the article
Labour disputes and their resolution procedure
Valentina Khlavich
Managing Partner
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