Code of Labor Laws

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Code of Labor Laws


in the USSR, a systematized legislative enactment regulating the labor relations of production and office workers.

The first Soviet labor code was adopted and promulgated in December 1918; it consolidated the great social achievements of the working class and all working people resulting from the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution. For example, for the first time in the world the eight-hour working day, which had been suggested as far back as the Geneva Congress of the First International in 1866, was established by law. The second Soviet labor law was adopted on Nov. 9, 1922, and promulgated on Nov. 15, 1922. The labor legislation had to be altered because of the transition to peaceful reconstruction after the Civil War of 1918–20. V. I. Lenin, who personally helped develop the Code of Labor Laws of 1922, characterized it as follows in his address to the fourth session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee: “Our adoption of a code of laws which firmly lays down the principles of labor legislation such as the eight-hour day at a time when in all other countries the working class is being heavily attacked is a tremendous achievement of Soviet power” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 45, p. 246). By virtue of the treaties of the RSFSR with other Soviet republics and at their request, the effect of the law was extended to all of them.

The Code of Labor Laws of the RSFSR of 1922 was in force until the adoption in 1970 of the Basic Principles of the Legislation on Labor of the USSR and the Union Republics; in 1972 new labor codes were introduced in all Union republics. In the RSFSR the Code of Labor Laws was approved on Dec. 9, 1971, and promulgated on Apr. 1, 1972. The code regulates labor relations of all production and office workers, promoting increased labor productivity and improved efficiency of social production. This, in turn, furthers the rise of the material and cultural living standard of the working people, the strengthening of labor discipline, and the gradual conversion of labor for the common good into the first vital necessity of every able-bodied person. The code establishes a high standard of labor conditions and offers all conceivable protection for the labor rights of production and office workers consolidating their basic right to work and their labor responsibilities. The labor rights are ensured by the socialist form of organization of the national economy, by a steady growth of productive forces of the Soviet society, by elimination of the possibility of economic crises, and by the liquidation of unemployment.

Production and office workers exercise their right to work by signing a labor contract; they have the state-guaranteed right to wages commensurate with the quantity and quality of labor input, the right to free time in accordance with the laws limiting the working hours and the working week and establishing annual paid vacations, the right to healthy and safe conditions of work, and the right to free professional training and free improvement of professional skills. The code also protects the right to join a trade union and the right to participate in the management decisions concerning production, and it guarantees financial security at the expense of the state in the form of social security and of payments in case of illness or disability. The most important labor responsibilities of production and office workers are consolidated in the labor codes, including observance of labor discipline, careful handling of public property, and the fulfillment of labor norms, which are established by the state with the participation of trade unions.

The Code of Labor Laws of the RSFSR contains 256 articles combined into 18 chapters. The code includes chapters covering general provisions, collective agreements, labor contracts, working hours, free time, wages, labor norms and piecework rates, guarantees and indemnifications, labor discipline, labor protection, women’s labor, youth’s labor, privileges of production and office workers in combining work with studies, labor disputes, trade unions, participation of industrial and office workers in the management of production, state social security, supervision and control of the observance of the labor legislation, and final provisions.

The labor codes of the Union republics take into account the diversity of labor conditions in different branches of the national economy, as well as the historical and national characteristics of every republic. Consequently, although the labor codes of the Union republics coincide on the whole with the Basic Principles of the Legislation on Labor of the USSR and the Union republics, they include special individual features.


Gorshenin, K. P. Novoe v zakonodatel’stve o trude. Moscow, 1971.
Aleksandrov, N. Z., A. D. Zaikin, and R. G. Livshits. Osnovnoi zakon o trude. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Policy makers adopted changes to the 1971 Code of Labor Laws, which marked the beginning of the movement to eliminate excessive employee protections, to promote equality, and to develop social dialogue.

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