The Ukrainian parliament recently adopted a new law introducing certain limitations to employment rights as a response to the presidential Decree No. 64/2022, which declared martial law in Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
“On Organizing of Employment Relations During Martial Law” (the “Law”) entered into effect on 15 March 2022, and will apply for the duration of the martial law, which is expected to stay in effect until 24 April 2022, unless extended.
The key changes introduced by the new Law are as follows and are applicable, at this point, only for the duration of martial law.
Employment agreements form and probation periods
The mandatory written employment agreement will no longer be required to allow more flexibility for employers to quickly replace absent employees. Therefore, a verbal agreement will be accepted.
In addition, employers will be allowed to waive the restrictions that usually apply under the Ukrainian Labor Code by:
- Entering into fixed-term employment agreements with new employees for the war period or to replace a temporarily absent employee
- Setting a probation period for any category of employees
Transfer to another job and change in essential work conditions
Employers are also allowed to temporarily transfer an employee to another position without their consent, whenever such transfer is needed to avoid the consequences of hostile war actions or other health or life-threatening circumstances. This change in the employee’s essential terms of employment will not be subject to the regular two-month notice period. However, the following limitations apply:
- Employers may not transfer an employee to an area under active military attack
- The newly assigned duties should not conflict with any medical condition the transferee may have
- The remuneration may not be lower than the transferee’s previous position
Employers will be entitled to terminate employees who disagree with the changes to their essential terms of employment.
Termination and suspension of employment
Suspension: Employers are allowed to suspend their employees’ employment agreements as well as certain provisions (such as extra payments and certain benefits) of applicable collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) due to reasons resulting from the Russian military aggression. In that case, employers will not be mandated to pay their employees’ salaries or any other employment-related benefit.
Termination: Employers who face liquidation due to the destruction of their facilities as a consequence of a military attack will be allowed to terminate their employees’ employment agreements, subject to a 10-day prior notice and the payment of a severance equal to one month’s salary. Dismissals may occur during the martial law period even during an employee’s sick leave or vacation.
Resignation: Employees working in an area under attack may voluntarily resign without giving a two-week prior notice to their employer.
Employers will not be required to obtain the consent of a trade union before the dismissal of a trade union member. Consent is still required, however, if the employee is a member of the trade union management. Employers will also be allowed to suspend all financial contributions to trade union activities.
Paid leave: Employers are entitled to reject an employee’s request for any type of leave except for pregnancy and maternity leave. The denial applies only to employees involved in work at critical infrastructure sites.
Unpaid leave: Leave without pay may be granted to employees who request it for an unlimited period of time rather than the usual 15-day maximum.
Public holidays: Public holidays won’t apply for the duration of martial law as related provisions will be suspended for the duration of the martial law.
Standard working hours of 40 hours per week may be increased to up to 60 hours per week. In addition, regulations prohibiting working on weekends, on days-offs, on holidays and at night will not apply.