The most important things you need to know about the Belarusian labor migration regulations, if you are a foreigner planning to seek employment in Belarus
Apart from the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the External Labor Migration Law regulates activities of migrant employees and protects their rights.
The Law specifies the procedures for employing foreigners that permanently reside in the Republic of Belarus. The Law has determined the duties of license holders, requirements to employment agreements, employment assistance agreements and labor contracts. Also, the Law has determined the peculiarities of employment under studentship programs.
The External Labor Migration Law came into force in 2011: prior to it, a labor migration law was in operation in the Republic of Belarus, however its main goal (and the goal of the state policy on the whole) was to protect the labor market of the Republic of Belarus against an uncontrollable drift of foreign labor, to optimize the regulation of drifts of labor, and to assure safe employment of Belarusian nationals abroad.
The collapse of the Soviet Union caused drastic changes in the political, economic and social life of the Republic of Belarus. The transparency of frontiers and the lack of migration regulations made Belarus open to massive influxes of migrants heading for Western Europe. As a result, a number of laws were adopted that made labor migration policy of the Republic of Belarus much more rigorous. This caused a major outflow of labor force.
According to statistical data of 2008–2010, the Republic of Belarus was facing a huge “brain drain” – this is precisely why the amended, more liberal, foreign labor law has been adopted to attract labor from abroad.
Belarus acknowledges the priority of the generally recognized principles of law as well as of international treaties. Belarus, as a monistic state, allows direct application of international treaties.
According to the mentioned Law, a “migrant employee” refers to a foreign national or a stateless person that has no permit for permanent residence in the Republic of Belarus, including a foreigner that is temporarily staying or temporarily resident in the Republic of Belarus, provided such foreigner has entered the Republic of Belarus for the purpose of employment or labor activity under a labor contract to be concluded with a Belarusian employer, or is already carrying out a labor activity in the Republic of Belarus.
The Law also describes a list of persons it doesn’t apply to: refugees, persons enjoying additional protection, persons invited to the Republic of Belarus for a term not exceeding 90 days for scientific work, persons employed by diplomatic or consular missions, persons accredited in the Republic of Belarus as journalists of foreign media, etc.
The External Labor Migration Law has abolished the licensing procedure with respect to any activities involving intake of foreign labor force.
Also, no permit is required for employers to use labor of foreigners that have no permit for permanent residence in the Republic of Belarus, providing no more than 10 foreigners are employed.
The Law distinctly outlines the grounds for refusal and cancellation of labor permits. For instance, a labor permit may be denied where an issuance would endanger the public policy of the Republic of Belarus, or where a foreigner to be employed in the Republic of Belarus is a national of a migration-troubled country.
An immigrant worker that has no permit for permanent residence must seek a special labor permit in order to be legitimately employed. The employer must file an application for such special permit. An immigrant worker that has no permit for permanent residence in the Republic of Belarus may be employed by more than one employer in the Republic of Belarus, provided each such employer has a relevant special permit. The period of validity of a special permit may be extended on a single occasion, upon the application of a Belarusian employer. Upon the expiry of a special permit, a Belarusian employer may apply for a new permit. However, an exclusion is granted for migrant workers from the EAEU states: they are not required to obtain a labor activity permit.
According to the new Law, foreigners are also entitled to seek employment using assistance of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs providing recruitment services, or with the cooperation of foreign facilitating agencies.
The laws of the Republic of Belarus, and specifically the External Labor Migration Law, distinctly describe the list of rights and duties of migrant workers. Unlike nationals of the Republic of Belarus that enjoy free-of-charge medical service, foreigners have access to medical service only at their own expense or at the expense of their employer. Furthermore, in some cases, migrants, pursuant to international treaties (for instance, the EAEU Treaty), have the right to draw a pension.
Taxation of immigrant workers is carried out in accordance with the tax laws of the Republic of Belarus, including international treaties of the Republic of Belarus. Natural persons, regardless of whether they are acknowledged as Belarusian tax residents, pay personal income tax from any sources in Belarus. Conversely, Belarusian tax residents, including foreign nationals and stateless persons, must pay personal income tax in Belarus from any sources, whether in Belarus or abroad.