News about business, accounting and taxes in Russia

Operating Business in Russia - A Guide to Payroll

Russia, the world's largest country by landmass, holds a magnetic allure for entrepreneurs. Its dynamic economy, vast natural resources, and tech-savvy populace offer fertile ground for bold business ventures. Yet, amidst the excitement, navigating the intricacies of Russian business practices, particularly payroll, can feel like traversing the frozen Siberian tundra.

Fear not, pioneering entrepreneur! This comprehensive guide serves as your compass, demystifying Russia's payroll complexities and guiding you toward smooth financial operations.

Understanding the Russian Business World

Russia boasts a diverse yet centralized business landscape. While small and medium businesses (SMBs) contribute significantly to the economy, large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) still hold considerable sway. Understanding this ecosystem is crucial for tailoring your payroll strategy.

Russian employees prioritize job security and stability, valuing benefits like healthcare and paid leave over purely individualistic performance incentives. Building a reliable and transparent compensation system becomes paramount in attracting and retaining top talent.

Payroll Regulations and Compliance

Now, let's dig into the nitty-gritty of Russian payroll. Compliance is non-negotiable, and the system can be intricate. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Taxes and Contributions

In Russia, payroll management involves mandatory deductions, including income tax, pension contributions, and social insurance contributions. Social security contributions, specified as percentages of the base salary, include 22% to the Pension Fund, 2.9% to the Social Insurance Fund, and 5.1% to the Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund.
Notably, the personal income tax rate for tax-resident and remote workers is now uniformly set at 13 or 15%, with a 15% rate applying to income exceeding 5 million RUB and a standard 13% on lower earnings. Comprehending and accurately computing these deductions is crucial for legal compliance and ensuring employees receive their entitled benefits.

Leave and Benefits

Employees in Russia are entitled to comprehensive leave and benefits that prioritize their well-being. Specifically, individuals enjoy 28 days of paid annual leave, providing essential opportunities for rest and recreation. Additionally, there are provisions for paid sick leave to address health concerns, ensuring employees can prioritize their well-being without compromising their financial stability. Normally, for common diseases, it takes up to 15 days if the document was issued by a doctor. If the employee has not recovered during this time, a special medical commission is convened to extend the list.
Recognizing the significance of family life, Russia mandates paid maternity and paternity leave. Maternity leave spans 70 days pre-natal, 84 days for multiple births, and 70 days post-natal, with extensions to 86 days for complications or 110 days for the birth of two or more children. These provisions underscore the country's commitment to supporting employees during critical life events.
Beyond these statutory benefits, many companies in Russia further enhance their employees' overall benefits packages by offering bonus structures for outstanding performance, and voluntary insurance schemes are commonly provided, reflecting a commitment to employee welfare.

Reporting and Filing

The regulatory landscape in Russia mandates regular payroll reports and tax filings. Failing to comply with these reporting requirements can result in hefty fines and penalties for businesses.
Accuracy and timeliness in reporting are paramount, as they contribute to the transparency of financial operations and ensure adherence to evolving regulations. Staying informed about changes in reporting requirements is crucial to avoiding legal repercussions and maintaining a smooth Russia payroll process.

Local vs. Expatriate Payroll Considerations

When juggling a diverse workforce, tailoring payroll practices becomes crucial. Here's they differ:

Local Employees

Local employees in Russia are subject to standard tax and contribution rates outlined by the country's regulatory framework. Their compensation is typically denominated in rubles, the official currency of Russia.
In addition to the base salary, some local employees may require or negotiate additional benefits to meet specific needs. For example, housing allowances can assist with accommodation expenses in regions with high living costs, and transportation stipends may be provided to facilitate commuting. These additional benefits enhance the overall compensation package and improve employee satisfaction and well-being.

Expatriate Employees

Salary Threshold Increase for Highly Qualified Specialists (HQS) in March 2024

The recent amendments under Federal Law No. 316-FZ, effective from 2024, change the legal status of foreign nationals in Russia, particularly impacting Highly Qualified Specialists (HQS). Notably, the minimum salary threshold for HQS will increase to 750,000 rubles, payable quarterly, starting from March 1, 2024. While the legislation doesn't clearly outline the payment structure for the 1st quarter, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with backing from the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, asserts that meeting the 750,000 rubles requirement for the first quarter of 2024 will suffice. Clarification from the Ministry of Internal Affairs is sought in this regard.

Work Permit Collection Deadline and Extensions

Effective January 7, 2024, the amendments introduce specific timelines for Highly Qualified Specialists (HQS) regarding the collection of issued work permits. HQS must collect their work permits within 30 calendar days from the Ministry of Internal Affairs' decision to issue or extend the permit. This period may be extended by 30 calendar days if valid reasons exist and the employer formally requests an extension.

Indefinite Residence Permit for HQS from 2024

Starting in 2024, Highly Qualified Specialists (HQS) in Russia will become eligible for an Indefinite Residence Permit (IRP), decoupled from their HQS status. To qualify, individuals must have at least two years of work experience in Russia under HQS status, accompanied by proper tax payments during this period. Additionally, there is an obligation to stay in the country based on a residence permit tied to the validity of the HQS work permit. While the Ministry of Internal Affairs' current position requires at least two years of residence based on an HQS residence permit, clarification is sought regarding this requirement concerning a "fixed-term" residence permit, which is necessary for obtaining an indefinite residence permit.

Employee Benefits and Incentives

Beyond monetary compensation, fostering employee well-being through attractive benefits and incentives is crucial. Popular benefits include:

Private Health Insurance

Access to quality healthcare is crucial in attracting and retaining top talent. While Russia provides a state healthcare system, private health insurance offers employees additional coverage and flexibility. This can include faster access to medical services, coverage for specialized treatments, and access to a broader network of healthcare providers. Private health insurance demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and can contribute to a positive workplace culture. It is precious in a competitive job market where candidates may prioritize comprehensive benefits.

Pension Top-Up Plans

Supplementing the state pension system with pension top-up plans adds an extra layer of long-term financial security for employees. The state pension may only sometimes be sufficient to maintain the desired lifestyle post-retirement.
Pension top-up plans, or supplementary or voluntary pension schemes, allow employees to contribute additional funds to their retirement savings. Employers may match these contributions or provide other incentives. This supports employees in planning for their future and fosters a sense of financial well-being, contributing to overall job satisfaction and loyalty.

Education Reimbursement

Investing in employee development through education reimbursement programs is a strategic move for employers. This can involve covering or partially covering tuition fees for relevant courses or degree programs. By supporting continuous learning and skills development, companies demonstrate a commitment to the professional growth of their workforce.
Education reimbursement programs enhance employees' skills and knowledge and increase job satisfaction and loyalty. Employees appreciate employers who invest in their personal and professional development, leading to a more engaged and skilled workforce.


Launching a business venture in Russia is brimming with exciting possibilities. While navigating the intricacies of payroll might seem daunting, understanding the landscape, seeking professional guidance, and embracing technology can pave the way for smooth financial operations and a thriving workforce.
Success lies in respecting local regulations, adapting to cultural nuances, and prioritizing employee well-being. So, venture forth, intrepid entrepreneur! Your unique circumstances and business needs determine the cost of HR & Payroll Payroll in Russia services with us. Get in touch with LowLands directly to get a customized business offer.
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