Practical commentary on legislation concerning refugees from Ukraine

In connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, three laws were published in the Collection of Laws on 21 March, regulating the residence, employment, benefits, and education of Ukrainian refugees. From a practical point of view, what must they do upon arrival in the Czech Republic, and what situations are employers currently facing?

The new laws are covered in the article Czech response to arrival of Ukrainian refugees – three new laws. As for residence status, it is first necessary to register and apply for temporary protection at a regional assistance centre. Please note that by mid-April at the latest, the Prague assistance centre will be moving from the Congress Centre to Vysočany. The registration and the application for temporary protection shall be arranged within 30 days of arrival. Compared to standard international protection, the deadline for processing the application is significantly shorter for temporary protection, and the granting of this status also gives rise to all further options and benefits brought by the newly adopted laws.

One of the advantages of temporary protection undoubtedly is the possibility to perform work (employment) without the need to obtain a work permit from the Labour Office of the Czech Republic. Persons having this status not only have free access to the labour market, but also the right to register with the Labour Office to access the instruments of an active employment policy such as job seeker registration or retraining. However, employers are still obliged to report the hiring of such a foreigner, no later than on the day they start the employment. To this end, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has adjusted the relevant form, adding the box "holder of temporary protection – Ukraine" in the section identifying the foreigner. Please note that the free access to the labour market does not apply to foreigners who would have been under the circumstances granted temporary protection but are already holding another permit in the Czech Republic, such as a work permit or an employee card.

All legislation concerning the Ukrainian crisis and its consequences has been adopted with effect until 31 March 2023, and the temporary protection status is also granted until then. Employers should reflect this in the term of employment contracts with persons under temporary protection. Similarly, we recommend keep this deadline in mind also in respect of employee benefits, such as accommodation, e.g., where employers conclude lease or similar contracts.

Further amendments to the legislation are very likely: whether concerning employment, such as the recognition of professional qualifications of persons under temporary protection (Lex Ukraine has so far only dealt with proof of qualification for childcare in children's groups), or residence after the expiry of Lex Ukraine.

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