The proposed changes will not degrade the quality of HR potential of the Russian Science

On March 21, 2013, the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia presented a dart federal law "On the Amendments to Certain Legal Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding Enhancement of Mechanisms of Regulation of Researchers' Labor, as well as Financial Instruments and Mechanisms of Support to Scientific Activities in of the Russian Federation". This draft law provides for a series of amendments and supplements to the labor and tax codes, as well as to the Federal Law dd. August 23, 1996, No.127-FZ "On Science and State Scientific and Technical Policy".

The Ministry suggests that the labor code should be complemented with additional articles focused on regulation of labor relations for researches and creating special labor conditions for researches. For example, it is expected to introduce open competitive selection for vacant positions every five years (or more frequently, if an employee has a labor contract for a period of less than 5 years), as well as conduct qualification of researchers, and grant a 1-year leave for employees who have worked 10 years. 

The introduction of an age limit of 60 years for those holding a position of the head or deputy head of a state or municipal research institution is most controversial and disputable. It may have a direct effect on the Russian Academy of Science, where the number of employees above the age limit is very big. However, this measure can hardly be regarded as discriminative, because it makes it possible to move managers covered by this provision to other positions which meet their qualification. Therefore, the quality of HR potential in the Russian science will not be deteriorated, because younger and self-motivated specialists will be provided with access to decision-making.

The draft law is mostly dedicated to financing of science-related activities. A few of the proposed positive changes are worth noting.

First, an opportunity to join researches in research consortiums will arise, thus allowing researchers to participate in joint projects, regardless of their attachment to a certain institution. 

Second, a new type of entity – foundations for support to scientific, scientific & technical, innovative activities – will be introduced into the legislation. The draft law specifies terms and conditions for ensuring efficient activity and transparency of such foundations, in particular прописаны возможности expert bodies are free to engage foreign third-party experts and organizations, requirements to disclose information about all important processes in such foundations for general public in the Internet.

In general, the draft law can be regarded as having a positive effect on the development of science in Russia. However, it provides no coverage of a comparably small problem area and является one of the first steps towards creating a streamlined system of financing of research and innovative activities by the state. Increasing the effectiveness of utilization of science budget allocations and amounts of financing of researches can promote the Russian science and regain the prestige of the research scientist occupation.

Eremkin V.А. – researcher, Innovation Economics Department