Is it legal not to pay bonuses and material aid to employees because they are not members of a trade union?

    An employee of one of the factories wrote to with a request to explain whether it is legal not to pay bonuses and financial aid to employees because they are not members of a trade union. Labour and business lawyer Svetlana Semenikhina explains the legality of the innovations is explained.

    – The management of the plant informed us that now payment of bonuses and financial aid  on the occasion of wedding or death of a close relative will apply only to trade union members, – writes Artem. – I am not a member of a trade union, and it turns out that now I am losing a large part of my salary which consists of a bonus? Is this legal?

    According to the employee, this condition is even provided for in the collective agreement.

    – This option cannot be documented, because membership in a trade union is purely a voluntary thing. Therefore, it is impossible to infringe on the rights of those who did not join trade unions, – says the lawyer. – Bonuses must be paid according to the results of work, i.e., subject to the achievement of the results stipulated by the local regulatory legal act. The same thing about an employee’s salary: his/her bonuses and other payments cannot depend on membership in a trade union. For example, the bonus for contract work can be legally between 1% and 50%, and it cannot be set depending on whether the worker is a trade union member.

    At the same time, some other “goodies” can be provided exclusively to members of trade unions. For example, gifts for the New Year or subsidized health resorts and holiday-homes vouchers.

    – This innovation was adopted at the beginning of 2020. From this moment on, it can be specified in the collective agreement that all benefits and warrants will apply only to the trade union members. In this case, material assistance can be provided only to the trade union members. However, not all organizations have a collective agreement. If there is none, such payments can be provided for by an order, regulation on salary or another document. And in this case, the warrants shall apply to all employees, it does not matter whether they are members of a trade union, – says Svetlana Semenikhina.