What is the Mongolia Employment Performance Review Commission?

We had mentioned in our previous blog post about Employment Agreement termination due to lack of performance that a determination on non-performance must be made by a formal “Commission” of some sort. What is this Commission? How is it formed? Who should participate and sign off? What are its functions? We will review these questions below.

We note that in most cases it will likely not be appropriate to establish a review Commission and organize evaluation of skill or qualification for a single employee, regardless of whether management may think this employee’s performance has not been sufficient. As a matter of practical law in Mongolia, such a situation will likely be viewed by a court as discriminatory and likely based on personal reasons not truly related to job performance.

What exactly is the Commission required by Mongolian law? It is not simply a Human Resources professional or department. The company should have an established internal policy regulating the establishment and conduct of the professional review Commission, including appointment of members, number of members, rights and responsibilities of commission, operational procedures of commission, and other key points.

Within such policy there should be terms and regulations as to how employees’ skills or qualifications are to be evaluated for different jobs and positions taking into account the key skills and qualifications or requirements for different positions.

The Commission may take the form of an annual performance review conducted by Human Resources and other personnel duly appointed to participate according to the company’s rules for conduct of the Commission. During which the performance of each employee is evaluated along clear criteria set out for their respective position.  If an employee’s performance was found to be unacceptable by such Commission, the employee may be rightfully and legally terminated at initiative of employer. The Commission may include members of Human Resources department but should also include additional management personnel.

In practice, individuals in the following positions are often appointed as members of the Commission:

  • member of organization’s senior management);
  • head of unit/division/department;
  • employee’s supervisor;
  • HR manager(s).

The company Human Resources unit usually organizes the evaluation: assists and advises the Commission to plan and organize the evaluation, announces the upcoming evaluation, organizes actual evaluation process, combines results, presents results to the commission for review, etc. The Commission itself plans the evaluation, develops the tests and tasks for evaluation, reviews the results of evaluations, presents the results and reviews of evaluation to organization’s management, etc. Based on the evaluation results and Commission’s reviews the employer decides whether to promote, send to training, or dismiss respective employees. In most company policies there are two types of evaluation: scheduled and unscheduled evaluations. Scheduled evaluations may take place annually, or once in two or three years. It depends on organizations preference. Unscheduled evaluations usually take place at the request of employee: when an employee requests for promotion or for transfer to new job or position. Unscheduled evaluation may also take place at the initiative of employer: when employer proposes to employee a promotion or transfer to new job or position.

It is interesting to note that a spontaneous employer initiated review Commission will be considered valid for purposes of a planned promotion, but as mentioned above, will likely not be considered valid for purposes of intended termination.

Terminating Mongolia Employment Agreements for Non-Performance – Not So Fast

A client recently came to our Mongolian lawyers with a question regarding termination of an Employment Agreement (check out yesterday’s post to understand the differences between an Employment Agreement and an Employment Contract) for inability of the employee to meet performance expectations.

Article 40 of the Labor Law sets out the grounds for termination of an Employment Agreement at the initiative of the employer. Pursuant to Article 40.1.2, an Employment Agreement may be terminated at the initiative of the employer if it has been determined that the employee fails to meet the requirements of the job or position due to a lack of professional qualifications or skills. The Supreme Court of Labor Law as issued an official interpretation of this provision clarifying the meaning. The official interpretation states that the provisions of article 40.1.2 of Labor law refer specifically to an official finding and formal decision as to the employee’s condition as issued by a professional skill assessment “Commission” established by the employer organization (the company) or industry (in which company operates). The official interpretation of the law also states that the employer’s determination of the employee’s professional ability and skill for the job or position as unqualified for reasons such as absence of tertiary education or an education certificate shall not be grounds for the employer to terminate the Employment Agreement. In other words, the actual skills demonstrated on the job must be considered through a formal review process.

If the employer wants to dismiss an employee on the grounds of Article 40.1.2 of the Labor Law, the employer must obtain a proper evaluation of the employees’ skills or qualification and a decision of a Commission (as described above) that states that the employee is unqualified for the job or position. If such is not obtained and the dismissed employee is unhappy with the employer’s decision and goes to court, there is a high chance that the employer will lose in the court and will have to re-hire the employee or potentially pay additional damages in compensation due to illegal dismissal.

Proper termination of employment on grounds of Article 40.1.2 of the Labor Law should be done through the employer’s establishment of a professional skill assessment Commission. Such commission should properly organize an evaluation of skill or qualification of all employees with respect to their jobs and positions, including presentation to employees of official results of evaluation, obtaining each employee’s opinion on his/her evaluation results, presentation of commission’s decision, and so on.

If based on the official results of the review and commission’s decision the employer decides to dismiss the employee, employer must provide a written Termination Notice to the employee 1 month prior the termination. The Employer must issue a decision (usually a CEO’s order) specifying a period for the employee to hand over his/her duties, the date of employee’s last work day (same date as termination of Employment Agreement), and the amount of severance pay. Pursuant to the Labor Law, when terminating employment on grounds of Article 40.1.2 the employer must pay to employee a severance pay in the amount equal to at least one month average salary of employee.

Compliance with all proper procedures by the employer leading to the termination is important. In practice, employees dismissed on grounds of article 40.1.2 of the Labor law are frequently unhappy and often go to court against employer. In such case, for an employer who did not comply with all proper procedures as mentioned above (terminating the employee via the Commission process) this may result in a court finding in favor of the employee. If the employer is not able to provide clear documentary evidence that the employee indeed does not qualify for the job or position, the court is likely to find that the termination was based on personal (non-professional) reasons, resulting in a ruling against the employer.

Note that there are other options for an employer initiated termination under Mongolian law, which we will review in coming blog posts.

Mongolia Employment Contracts: One Size Does Not Fit All

A longstanding client of the firm which operates a company in Mongolia posed a simple question to our Mongolian lawyers, asking the best way under Mongolian Employment law to fire an employee who has not lived up to performance expectations. The question is interesting because it requires first determining what type of employee is to be terminated. In Mongolian law, not all employment relationships are equal. There are two difference kinds of employment in Mongolia each with different rules and different processes for termination of the employee.

The Labor Law of Mongolia provides for 2 types of employment: (1) Employment pursuant to an “Employment Agreement” and (2) Employment pursuant to an “Employment Contract”. It is important to understand that that these are two distinct types of employment under Mongolian law, subject to different rules, not simply a difference in translation.

In Mongolia, most employment relationships are pursuant to an Employment Agreement, which is basically described as an agreement to be employed for general purposes. While the actual role the employee performs may vary, no particular or unique skills are required on the part of the employee. This type of employment is defined by an Employment Agreement.

However, under the Mongolia Labor law, when an employer hires someone specifically for his/her high skills or unique talents an Employment Contract may be concluded, rather than a simple Employment Agreement. The Mongolian government puts out a list which sets out the positions subject to an Employment Contract.  According to the list, an employer may conclude an Employment Contract with Directors, Chief Executive Officers, General Managers, Division (department) Managers, and Chief (head) of Divisions (departments).  Other types of employees may only be hired pursuant to an Employment Agreement.

There are several differences between an Employment Agreement and an Employment Contract. Generally, an Employment Agreement for a permanent position is concluded for an indefinite term or if the parties mutually agree for a specified term. In the latter case, at the expiration of the term of the Employment Agreement if the parties do not propose its termination, and the employee continues to perform his/her work, the Employment Agreement is considered to be extended for the initial term.

Whereas, an Employment Contract may be concluded for up to a maximum of 5 years. When concluding an Employment Contract, among other terms, the parties must specify in the Employment Contract a detailed procedure for the evaluation of performance of the employee under the Employment Contract. When this is included in the Employment Contract, it is relatively easy to conclude upon evaluation of the employment contract whether the employee has sufficiently performed his/her duties. If the employee as performed sufficiently, the Employment Contract may be extended.

An Employment Contract must specify in detail all duties, responsibilities, rights, privileges, benefits of the employee, including a description of assets to be given under employee’s responsibility, the rules of possession, the use and disposition of such assets, final results to be achieved by the employee, the liabilities of the employee. Because under an Employment Contract the employer hires the employee specifically for his/her high skills or unique talents, such employee has more responsibility, accountability, rights, privileges and benefits than a “regular” employee employed under an Employment Agreement.

Basics of Initial public offering (IPO) in Mongolia

In recent years several Mongolian private companies have gone public, or conducted an initial public offering (IPO), very successfully. This shows that interest and knowledge about IPO is growing both among companies (businesses) and public (investors).

As you may know, an IPO is when a private company or corporation raises investment capital by offering its stock (shares) to the public for the first time. Initial public offerings are often issued by growing companies seeking capital to expand, but they can also be done by large privately-owned companies or corporations looking to become publicly traded. Prior to an IPO the company is considered private, with a relatively small number of shareholders made up primarily of early investors (such as the founders) and professional investors. The public, on the other hand, consists of everybody else – any individual or institutional investor who wasn’t involved in the early days of the company and who is interested in buying shares of the company. The Law on Securities Market requires that to conduct an IPO the issuer must offer its stock to at least 50 and more investors.

In an initial public offering, the issuer, or company raising capital, procures the assistance of an underwriting firm (underwriter), to help determine the offering price, amount (number) of shares and timeframe for the market offering. When a company initiates the IPO process, a very specific set of events occurs. The chosen underwriter facilitates all of those steps. Primarily, an external IPO team is formed, consisting of an underwriter, law firm, audit company, appraiser company, and other experts if required. The external IPO team compiles information and documentation regarding the company (issuer), including financial performance and financial statements, expected future operations, corporate governance and corporate documents, and prepares IPO prospectus, legal opinion, audit report, asset valuation report and other necessary documents respectively that are to be filed to Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (FRC). After the company files its prospectus and other necessary documents with the FRC, it sets a date for the offering.

Going public can be a great way to raise money, increase your company’s profile. However, there are number pros and cons in going public. So, when considering conducting an IPO, one must do all proper researches, calculations and analysis. In doing so we advise to seek professional advice and services from FRC listed underwriters, law firms, audit companies and appraiser companies.

Our law firm is FRC listed. Here at LehmanLaw we have FRC certified lawyers, who will provide you with qualified legal assistance.

Mongolia is Introducing E-Filing System for Intellectual Property

The Mongolian Government’s Action Plan for 2016-2020 aims that the state functions have been introduced the online system for establishing reliable, accessible and express public services based on paperless services. The most ultimate source is that the article 8 of Patent law sets forth the filing an electronic application for invention, industrial design or innovation.

 

In April 26, 2018 as the World Intellectual Property Day, IPOM publish (Online Data system) and E-Filing (Online Filing System) were introduced for developing the use of the intellectual property database and facilitating the filing process for IP rights.

 

Above-mentioned systems allow to register the invention electronically and obtain electronic information on patents and trademarks.

 

In today’s highly developed IT platform, the filing electronic application for IP rights and the obtaining of patent information for the research work are an important part of saving time and paper. Furthermore, the researchers, inventors and producers are able to find the similar researches with their research work in online Intellectual Property database. It will definitely helpful to develop more competitive way of creating the inventions as well as avoiding any risks in the future.

Changes to Customs Tax and VAT Exemptions

During Parliament’s regular session on May 10, a final review of amendments to the Value-Added Tax Law and Customs Tax Exemptions Law were conducted and approved with a majority vote from Parliament members in attendance.

According to the amendments, all imported wood construction materials except oriented strand board (OSB), standardized pre-fabricated wood building structures, and logs will be exempt from customs duty. Other imported wood products, except those related to forestry and horticulture, will be exempt from value-added tax until 2022.

The Amendments to Value-Added Tax Law and Customs Tax Exemptions Law will be effective from January 1, 2018.

Issues with Effective IP Enforcement Actions in Mongolia

Several clients in recent months have contacted the firm requesting assistance in tracking down and stopping intellectual property infringers in Mongolia. After working closely on many of these cases, our Mongolian Attorneys and licensed Intellectual Property specialists are among the forefront of the Mongolian IP enforcement practice in Mongolia. Our team has a few key insights that those doing business in Mongolia should be aware of.

In Mongolia, the systems for investigation and resolution of IP infringement issues is relatively unsophisticated. IP infringement cases often are not able to be resolved or punished effectively due to a lack in the number of state inspectors and the resulting workload for those inspectors who are on the job. Only a few State Inspectors handle IP issues, and such inspectors are obliged to inspect shops or markets selling infringing goods throughout Ulaanbaatar in accordance with the specific demands of each case. It is often very difficult for the state inspectors to identify possible infringers. State inspectors will normally punish known infringers identified during an IP enforcement action by warnings, confiscation of infringing goods, and fines for repeat offenses. General lack of education in Mongolia account IP and the limited effectiveness of such examinations result in infringing products for which sales have been shut down at a particular market showing up again for sale elsewhere at a different shop or different market.

Another problem is that the estimation of intangible asset related damages caused by IP infringement is not clear and is not well defined or regulated under law. Though the law says such damages will be settled under applicable regulations and administrative acts, regulation applicable to estimation of intangible asset related damages caused by IP infringement is unclear in Mongolia. The complaint regarding intangible asset associated damages cannot be resolved properly under such procedure. In fact, it is very few cases which filed complaint concerning the said infringement with IP office and there is no good practice on this issue.

The Mongolian government needs to pay attention on eliminating violations of intellectual property rights and properly compensating damages caused by IP infringement.  Those seeking effective IP enforcement in Mongolia need to come prepared with a large amount of investigation preformed and research compiled ready to be presented in a complaint to the IP Office, and should have a clearly documented and easily calculatable claim for damages caused due to the alleged infringement.

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Finalizing Mediation

In a recent post we have previously discussed the practical aspects of mediation in Mongolia. Mediation is one of the better alternative dispute resolution methods for those who are seeking short-term and inexpensive way to settle a dispute. In this article we’ll explore the closing of the mediation process and aftermath.

The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved. Disputing parties who are seeking vindication of their rights or a determination of fault will not likely be satisfied with the mediation process.

Nonetheless, if in the mediation process a resolution is reached between parties, a written settlement agreement must be executed. Such settlement agreement is binding for all parties of dispute and considered enforceable contract. As mentioned in our previous post mediation centers operate at courts of first instance (court-based mediation centers), and may operate at government authorities, NGOs and professional associations (other mediation centers). Settlement agreements executed by mediators of a court-based mediation center become a sort of court judgement, as judge of corresponding court issues a court decision confirming such settlement agreement. And if parties fail to voluntarily perform their obligation under settlement agreement, it shall be enforced same as court decision. On the other hand, while settlement agreements executed by mediators of other mediation center are also binding for parties of dispute, these are not enforced same as settlement agreements executed by mediator of court-based mediation center. If parties fail to voluntarily perform their obligations under such settlement agreement, parties have the right to pursue their claims in other forms (such as litigation or arbitration).

However, if in the mediation process parties could not reach any resolution, or parties did not actively seek any resolution, or for other reasons the mediation process could not further proceed, the mediation process shall be terminated. At this point parties of dispute may decide to resolve their dispute through litigation or arbitration.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mongolian Approach to Mediation

Mediation a method of alternative dispute resolution parties to any agreement should consider, aside from arbitration. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Unlike arbitration, which takes a form more similar to trial, mediation doesn’t involve decision making by the neutral third party, but seeks to find a mutually acceptable resolution or compromise between the parties. Mediation procedures can be initiated by the parties or may be compelled by legislation, the courts, or contractual terms. When parties are unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute, one good option is to turn to mediation. Mediation is generally a short-term, structured, task-oriented, and “hands-on” process.

In Mongolia the institution of mediation was established by adoption of the Law on Mediation in 2012. Pursuant to Law, mediation may be used in civil legal disputes, individual labor disputes and disputes arising from family relationships, and in some other disputes only if specified by law.

In mediation, the disputing parties work with a neutral third party, the mediator, to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the resolution of the parties’ disputes by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectations. The mediator may also offer creative solutions and assist in drafting a final settlement. The role of the mediator is to interpret concerns, relay information between the parties, frame issues, and define the problems. Unlike the litigation process or arbitration, where a neutral third party (judge or arbitrator) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process – deciding when and where the mediation takes place, who will be present, how the mediation will be paid for, and how the mediator will interact with the parties.

A mediator is a specialized person, who is certified and registered in the list of mediators. Anyone with higher education may attend training courses for mediators and become a certified and registered mediator. However, currently most certified and registered mediators are usually lawyers or persons with certain legal or economic background. Law on Mediation provides presence of mediation centers at courts of first instance. Law also permits government authorities, NGOs and professional associations to have medication centers in accordance with their direction of professional activity, provided that certified and registered mediators are employed.

New Law Needed to Protect Internet Domain Names as Intellectual Property

Many companies wish to utilize a national top level domain in their online “URL” to indicate that the company, and products or services offered are local to a specific country. For example, a Mongolian company may utilize “.mn” to indicate to the world it is based in Mongolia, while an international company may establish a separate “.mn” website to target the Mongolia market.

Datacom LLC, a Mongolian company, holds the right to issue “.mn” domain name and has been doing so since 1996. Also, Erdemnet issues “edu.mn” domain name for educational organizations and National Data Center issues “gov.mn” domain name for government organizations.

Currently, there is a domain name registration system operated by the the National Data Center. However, there are many violations of the domain registration process because there is no legislation regarding registration and use of domain names in Mongolia. Many in the Mongolia IT sector have advocated for such a law as it is required to establish the legal basis for registering, possessing and using domain names. Having such law is also critical to avoid and mitigate potential for intellectual property rights infringement.

Illegal circulation of intellectual property in the internet or electronic environment is widespread. In particular, copyright ingringement, namely the music and film are widely copied illegally and available online.

Both the General Authority for Intellectual Property and the State Registration and Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia fight againt the copyright’s infringement in the internet and have authority to shut down the domain names which are found to use or make available intellectual property without constant of the owners. However, there is a continous cycle in which a site which finds it’s domain name shut-down quickly re-openeds and posts copyrighted contend under a new domain name. A formal domain name law would help to stop this process.

The Mongolian Parliament adopted the Resolution /No.11/, “List of Laws and Regulations need to be updated by 2020” on 12 January, 2017. According to the resolution, Law on Domain Names is scheduled to be enacted in the near future.