It is a well known fact that Russian salaries are very poor, with the average monthly wage in many Russian towns being little more than a few hundred dollars, which is often barely enough to live on. In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the wages are much higher than the Russian average because of the presence of the oil companies and their dozens of suppliers and subcontractors, but the absolute salary paints a false picture because the cost of living in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is higher than any other city outside of Moscow, and many times higher than towns of similar size.
There are probably several good reasons as to why salaries in Russia are so low, but one of them revealed itself in all its splendour as I was preparing an annual budget this morning.
Under Russian law, employees are entitled to 28 days paid holiday a year. In addition to this they also get 11 days paid public holiday per year, making a total of 39 days. If the employee works in the Russian “Extreme North” region, which includes Sakhalin Island, they get an additional 16 days paid holiday per year, making a total of 55 days.
By Russian law, the working week is 5 days; 40 hours long for men and 36 hours for women. 55 days per year on a 5 day week equates to 11 weeks paid holiday per year, which is over a fifth of the working year. Spread evenly over the entire year, an employee in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk could get away with a 4-day week with a man working 32 hours, and a woman putting in just under 29 hours to justify her salary.
Furthermore, overtime must be paid at a rate of x1.5 for the first two hours per day, and x2 for any hours worked over that.
It’s a small wonder that salaries in Russia – especially those of women - are shockingly bad. Who is going to pay anyone a high salary for putting in an average of 30 hours per week?