What language to use to fire an employee?

What language to use
to fire an employee?

HR specialists quite often face the situation where company’s management finds it necessary to fire an employee and the employee does not have any intention to leave the company. Such situations can be resolved via punitive discharge – either by reason of unexcused absence or repeated failure by the employee without good cause to perform his/her employment duties, etc. This approach seems to be quite simple and clear: HR only needs to collect all necessary documents and signatures.

In actual life, it appears to be more difficult than it seems. Employees who have been fired “for cause” quite often win court cases and receive compensations for wrongful dismissal, and get reinstated in their job.

“Informauditservice” lawyers have participated in lawsuits both on the employee’s side and on the employer’s side. Thus, keeping ourselves neutral, we would like to share a few cases or wrongful dismissals.

We will start with the case about foreign employers.

Language barrier case

Some Russian OOO (a limited liability company) functioning under an international company used a foreign language (not Russian, and not even English) as its internal working language. There was an employee in this OOO who was not very good at performing his employment duties. If he received written instructions from company’s management in Russian - he fulfilled them, if they were in the foreign working language - he does not always fulfilled them.

Probably, this was due to an internal conflict between the employee and his foreign boss, probably - due to his poor foreign language. Actually, this does not matter. At a certain point, company’s foreign management got tired of such selective approach to work and the employee’s non-corporate behavior and it was decided to dismiss him.

The employee did not want to leave upon the mutual agreement of the parties. There fore, HR specialists collected the history of tasks which were to be performed by the employee and made a decision to discharge him by reason of persistent failure to perform employment duties (failure to follow job description).

In a couple of months, the employee was reinstated in position by court which justified its decision saying that the tasks should have been set only in Russian or should have been translated into Russian. The fact that there were staff translators in the company who could have helped the employee with the translation of his tasks was not considered as a justification for his dismissal. Following the law, an employee of a Russian legal entity who is not a translator or who does not hold any other position where work with documents in a foreign language is directly envisaged, has the right not to understand instructions in a foreign language received from company’s management.

Key conclusions: 

1. Management of foreign companies which have legal entities in Russia all written instructions, tasks, claims and notifications related to employees’ work should be sent to these employees in Russian. The following documents should also be in Russian: job descriptions, position descriptions, and other bylaws.

2. Even if the employee’s diploma confirms the knowledge of a foreign language at a particular level, the employee working on the RF territory is not obliged to respond to administrative letters or any other notifications from company’s management written in a foreign language.

3. If you have any concerns regarding the insufficient proficiency in a foreign language, please keep in mind that you speak the only state language in the Russian Federation - Russian. 

Have a nice day!

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What language to use
to fire an employee?