EU promotes protection of workers’ rights in Ukraine

Working under employment contract brings benefits! Labor legislation guarantees safe and healthy working conditions, paid vacation and sick leave for hired workers. You will receive help in the event of a work accident, and benefits for care of small children. Workers whose employment is undeclared are ineligible for all these benefits.

What laws regulate labor relations?

The main document is the Code of Labor Laws of Ukraine. Labor rights and social benefits are also stipulated in the Laws of Ukraine On Vacation, On Remuneration, On Occupational Safety, On Employment of Population and other legislative acts.

What rights do persons with declared employment have?

As of the date of signing an employment contract, you are considered a hired worker who has labor rights and is eligible for social benefits.

Safe and worthy working conditions

You have the right to safe and healthy working conditions. Employers are obliged to inspect workplaces, provide specialized clothes and footwear and personal protective equipment, organize trainings in occupational safety and medical examinations.

If your working conditions are harmful, you are eligible for an additional vacation, higher pay, early retirement and other benefits.

Performance of job duties

Your employer cannot force you to do job not stipulated in your employment contract and job description. Therefore, if you disagree with what you are told to do, you can refuse to do it.

Regular working hours

The law prohibits compelling employees to work more than 40 hours per week. If you work in harmful conditions or if you are under 18 years of age, your workweek must be even shorter: 36 hours. If you work a five-day workweek, you must have two days off. If you have only one day off, your workday cannot be longer than 7 hours.

You cannot be forced to work overtime or on weekends, unless it is required for national defense purposes, or to eliminate the consequences of a natural disaster or an industrial accident, or to prevent property damage. Another pleasant advantage of declared employment is a shortened workday on the eve of holidays and nonworking days.

Paid and unpaid vacation

Under employment contract, you are entitled to an annual paid vacation. As of January 2020, the minimum duration of this vacation is 24 calendar days per work year. If you are under 18 years of age, you can go on vacation for 31 days.

In addition to the main vacation, you may be eligible for a paid academic or sabbatical leave (to write a PhD thesis or a textbook, or to participate in all-Ukrainian and international tournaments). Became a blood donor? Take a day off on the next day or add that day to your annual vacation. You will be paid for that day.

You can also take an unpaid vacation in the event of marriage, childbirth or funeral, or to provide care for your ill relatives. An additional vacation may also be provided to workers who have children, former combatants and persons who liquidated the consequences of the Chornobyl Disaster.

Regular salary payments not lower than the minimum salary

A monthly salary for a fully-done job cannot be lower than the minimum amount (UAH 4723 in 2020).

Working from dawn till dusk? According to labor legislation, overtime work and work on weekends must be paid for at the double rate. If you worked on a holiday, you can take a day off.

Employers cannot pay salaries whenever they feel like doing it. You must be paid your salary on a regular basis, at least twice a month and within seven days after the end of a work period. If a payday falls on a weekend or holiday, salary must be paid the day before.

Protection against unfounded penalties

Penalized for coming late to work or for slacking off? Declared employment protects you against abuse by your employer. The law provides for only two forms of punishment for violation of labor discipline: reprimand or termination of employment.

A worker can be charged with material liability if a substantial damage was caused by their unlawful actions or omissions, and deductions from salary cannot exceed 20% of the amount of your pay. After all, you need something to live on.

Possibility to study and improve qualification

When working officially, you can combine work with studies at a secondary or vocational school, university or postgraduate school, and also, with skill improvement training. The law entitles you to a paid academic leave or to take free unpaid or partially paid time for college exams.

Protection against unlawful termination

A worker whose employment is undeclared can be terminated on any day. But if you have an employment contract, your employer is required to give you a two-month advance notice.

Disability insurance benefits

An employer pays flat social tax for every duly documented worker. This is your guarantee of benefits in the event of an illness, work accident or occupational disease.

Payment of flat social tax on only a portion of salary significantly reduces the amount of benefits. If you are an undocumented worker, count not on any benefits, unless your employer pays it as a gesture of good will.

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Photo: Amounts of insurance benefits for hired workers

For additional information, contact the State Labor Service of Ukraine.

Benefits for minors

If you are under 18 years of age, you cannot work under the ground, at thermal and nuclear power plants, oil and gas production enterprises, or perform other types of work from the List of Heavy Works and Works in Harmful and Dangerous Working Conditions. You cannot be engaged to work during nighttime, overtime, or on weekends and holidays. In addition to the main 31-day vacation you can take an additional vacation for school exams, just like other workers.

Additional social benefits for women and workers who have children

Women and persons providing care for children are entitled to many social benefits. If you are pregnant or have children under three years of age, the law prohibits your employer from making you work at night, overtime, or on weekends and holidays, and from sending you on business trips. If necessary, you can be transferred to a lighter and safer work, or your work output rate can be lowered with preservation of your average salary amount.

Pregnant women are entitled to a paid maternity leave of 70 calendar days before and 56 calendar days after childbirth (70 days if you give birth to two or more children or if the childbirth becomes complicated). Maternity benefits to women included to the 1st – 3rd category of Chornobyl Disaster victims are paid for 180 calendar days (90 days before and 90 days after childbirth).

You can take a three-year unpaid childcare leave, and then extend it, if necessary, until your child reaches the age of six years. The father, a grandparent or another relative actually providing care for the child is entitled to a childcare leave as well.

A childcare leave is credited toward the length of employment. During this period, you can work part-time or from home.

Women, remember: as of January 2020, employers cannot terminate at their will pregnant women, mothers having children under three years of age, and single mothers having a child under fourteen years of age or a disabled child. Even if your company is fully liquidated, you must be employed elsewhere.

Professional recognition

Declared employment allows to officially confirm your professional skills and experience.

Protection of rights

If you believe that your employment or employment of your workmates is undeclared, you can report it to the State Labor Service using, for example, a Google form, or file a lawsuit. Resolving a labor dispute in favor of an unduly documented worker is hard, and sometimes even altogether impossible.

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Photo: Declared employment = labor rights and social benefits

For additional information, contact the State Labor Service of Ukraine.

Sources: Code of Labor Laws of Ukraine, Law of Ukraine on Vacation, Law of Ukraine on Remuneration, Law of Ukraine on Occupational Safety.

By Maria Datsiuk

“Go into Light!” campaign is carried out as part of the project “On the way toward safe, healthy and declared employment in Ukraine” funded by the EU and implemented by the International Labor Organization.

Source: NV