Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov, Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Governor of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, Kaliningrad Region Governor and Head of the State Council’s working group on small and medium businesses Anton Alikhanov, Novgorod Region Governor and Head of the State Council’s working group on social policy Andrei Nikitin, Chelyabinsk Region Governor and Head of the State Council’s working group on the economy and finance Alexei Teksler, Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Radiy Khabirov, and Astrakhan Region Governor Igor Babushkin.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today, I suggest discussing, as planned, one of the most important issues in the current situation – the labour market. Let us see what positive results we have due to our measures on sustaining jobs, supporting families whose incomes have decreased, and helping people who have temporarily lost their jobs.
As I have said before, the coronavirus epidemic and the ensuing restrictions, as we all know, have had an adverse effect on the economies of every country without exception. Demand has dropped, business activity has declined and many cooperation ties and investment plans have been suspended. Our industries have also been hard hit: as you know, we are frequently not receiving parts and components from our partners.
Of course, this has had a negative i9mpact on the labour market around the world, a fact we brought up at the G20 meetng. The latest data show that the number of registered unemployed in Russia is also on the rise. In fact, there is nothing unusual about this for us. This number now stands at about 1.9 million people.
Here is what I want to say to the federal agencies and our colleagues in the regions: you should pay maximum attention, and I would like to stress that it should be maximum – to unemployment at all levels.
Once again, preserving the jobs and incomes of Russian families has been one of our top priorities since day one of our efforts to counter the epidemic. This, of course, is a fair approach and a fair principle, because people should always be our priority.
We have established a key, basic criterion for supporting businesses. From the outset, we have organised our work exactly this way: preserving the workforce and salaries is a priority. We offered incentives whereby companies and entrepreneurs who take care of their employees and strive to retain them, can count on greater support from the state. By that, I also mean direct subsidies to pay salaries at small- and medium-sized businesses in the affected industries in an amount equivalent to one minimum wage per employee in April and May, as well as easy-term loans with a 2 percent interest rate. These loans will be repaid by the state, as agreed, if staffing at a given company remains at the current level.
At the same time, we provided targeted assistance to people who lost their jobs during the crisis, primarily, families with children. Thus, in addition to unemployment benefits, families with one or both parents temporarily out of work will receive an additional payment of 3,000 rubles per month for each minor child. Starting June 1, the minimum childcare benefit paid to non-working parents, as a rule, young mothers, will double.
We simplified the procedure for applying for federal child support allowances, and we reduced a lot of the paperwork and certificates. Thus, the income received by an unemployed person in the previous period is not taken into account when assigning a payment.
Of course, increasing the amount of unemployment benefits was an important decision as well. Those who lost their jobs and filed an application with the employment service starting March 1 are eligible for the maximum amount of 12,130 rubles. You can file an application online through the Work in Russia website.
In this context, I would like to emphasise the following: I am addressing the executives at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the employment services and the regional governors. Colleagues, a lot in this situation depends on your smooth, efficient work. I would like to ask you to act with the utmost responsibility and do everything you can. This is most important in our work.
We need to analyse and look deep into the problems of every person that asks for help, especially elderly people and pre-pensioners. This also applies to graduates of universities, colleges and academies that are finishing their studies and starting to work.
It is necessary to look for suitable jobs in cooperation with companies, organisations and employers. These things must not be left to luck. It is necessary to offer snap courses, as well as education and retraining programmes for those who have lost their jobs.
Now a lot is being done remotely. When business life gets back to normal, this experience is bound to be very useful and much in demand. It must be used in any case because, as you know, this long-distance, remote format is convenient and necessary for both businesses and individuals. This applies to young mothers, people with disabilities and residents of small towns where the choice of jobs is not as broad as in metropolitan areas. In general, experts predict that the digital economy of the future will largely rely on networks when many people will work remotely, like from home.
I would like you to report today on how this approach to work is being carried out in practice, what legal and other problems are faced by companies and their employees and what, in your opinion, must be improved or adjusted without delay.
On the whole, I hope to hear a detailed report on the labour market situation. I would like to ask you to describe bottlenecks in labour relations, in part, as regards support for Russian families, and protection of the labour rights and interests of our people and to hear your suggestions on what needs to be changed in the current situation and the future development of the labour market.
Let us start working.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. We are running such support programmes. We need to look and analyse what is going on there. Perhaps, add or review some things. I fully agree.
Look, we have just heard our colleagues reporting on the labour market situation. Here is what I would like to draw your attention to. Mr Kotyakov, according to your Ministry, unemployment, from March 1 to April 20, was growing the fastest in Tyumen Region, Kaliningrad Region, the Republic of Chuvashia, Vologda Region and the Republic of Buryatia. The largest increases in registered unemployment among the gainfully employed population were found in Tyva, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Altai Republic and the Republic of Buryatia.
The reason I am saying this now is because I want the Government to carefully study and focus not only on the proposals that we heard today – I will talk about this shortly – but also the actual data provided by the Ministry of Labour. It is necessary to pay attention to these regions. The governors of these regions should, of course, work vigorously, but I also want the federal agencies to focus on this.
Of course, better employment numbers as a result of restoring the national economy is the main systemic condition for stabilising the labour market. It is about restarting enterprises, returning to normal, usual rhythm of work in the services sector, restaurants, hotels etc. So people can go back to work, provide for their families and know that they will be paid in time and in full.
Clearly, you cannot just wait for all this to get back on track by itself and for the economic engine to start working at full capacity on its own. The labour market – the Minister of Labour mentioned this – is unusual, but it calls for urgent and well-balanced actions. In this regard, I support today’s proposals that need to be implemented as soon as possible.
What have our colleagues been talking about? We have rules whereby different categories of people are entitled to unemployment benefits for a period of three to 12 months. When this period expires, payments are discontinued even if the person did not find a job. Considering the current difficult situation in the economy and the labour market, I agree with the following proposal, namely, to extend unemployment benefits for three months for those who lost their benefits after March 1 because of the expiry of the established term.
Let us agree that, as you proposed, this measure will be valid until October 1, 2020. Those whose unemployment benefits expired will simply have to address the employment service to receive these payments for another three months. Let me repeat that these payments will be made for another three months but no later than until October 1. Let us do this for the time being, and later on, we will proceed based on the situation that develops in the labour market.
Secondly, we have established additional payments for underage children, 3,000 rubles per child per month, for those who applied through the employment service after March 1. I agree, let us expand this to parents that are unemployed now but who lost their jobs before March 1 of this year. They will also be entitled to 3,000 rubles per underage child per month. This is fair because the situation in the labour market has worsened and today it is very difficult to find a job for people who became unemployed even before March 1.
Third. In addition to those who are employed, many individual entrepreneurs have also encountered difficulties. I fully agree with those who have just mentioned this. Now that the regions are gradually lifting restrictions, business activity is gaining momentum, including that of small companies. Nonetheless, I consider it appropriate to support individual entrepreneurs that had to close their businesses after March 1 of this year. I suggest establishing unemployment benefits for them at the highest rate, that is, 12,130 rubles, and paying them for three months as well.
Furthermore, people who do not have confirmed incomes, a sufficient service record in their former jobs or did not have official jobs at all, are also going to employment offices. Regrettably, there are cases like this as well. They are entitled to a minimum unemployment benefit of 1,500 rubles. Of course, this is not enough. I fully agree with you, colleagues. These people also need state support. So, let us retroactively, starting May 1, increase the minimum unemployment benefit threefold, to 4,500 rubles. This will also be paid over three months, until August 1. I asked the Finance Minister these questions for a reason. The estimates have been made and the funds are available.
I would like to ask the Government to promptly prepare the regulations for the decisions made today and to coordinate its cooperation with the regions. I would also like to ask it to make separate proposals on upgrading labour legislation, in part, with due account for the experience of the past few months. I am referring to the use of digital technology in documenting labour relations. Incidentally, we have discussed this issue many times. It is also necessary to simplify the regulations for remote jobs. The main point is certainly to protect and fully ensure the rights of employees. This is a key requirement and an absolute priority.
I want to emphasise to the federal agencies and our colleagues in the regions: your attention to the labour market situation and the problems of the unemployed must be maintained at all levels of authority.
One of the key tasks is to create conditions for people to return to work, but, of course, while observing the safety requirements. We must open the economy, its key industries step-by-step. In effect, this is what we are doing. This is certainly the foundation for restoring employment.
But it goes without saying that we should not forget that reducing unemployment is also part of our macroeconomic policy. A high unemployment rate shows that economic capacity is underutilised and that there is still a tangible shortage of demand.
Resolving these problems is a major task in the national plan for economic recovery. Please pay the utmost attention to this. Needless to say, all these actions, the actions we have discussed today must be correlated with the unique situation we are in. I am referring to the safety of our people.
Thank you for taking part in today’s meeting.