Ukraine: Practical recommendations for Ukrainian workers and their employers
The armed conflict in Ukraine is the most serious event to hit Europe since World War II. Apart from the human rights dimension, it also affects the Czech labour market.
Many employers doing business in the Czech Republic are now faced with two questions:
- How to deal with the employment of Ukrainian employees who received a conscription order from Ukraine and decided to leave to fight for their country?
- What should be done if a Ukrainian employee decides to stay in the Czech Republic?
As for the first question, the employer has several options:
- If the employee requests to terminate their employment, the employer may grant the request and terminate the employment by mutual agreement, which is possible even without giving reasons. This can be done as at an agreed-upon date (there is no notice period in this case). If the employment is terminated by mutual agreement without giving reasons, the employee is not entitled to statutory severance pay. However, nothing prevents the employer from providing them with any amount of contractual severance pay.
- The employee may give termination notice pursuant to Section 50(3) of the Labour Code, also without giving reasons. In this case, however, there is a standard, usually two-month, notice period.
- The employer and the employee may agree on unpaid leave for a period of absence. In this case, we recommend concluding such agreement in writing.
- On Friday, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs published the opinion that an absence from work due to receiving a conscription order may also be treated as an obstacle to work on the employee’s part pursuant to Section 199 of the Labour Code, where the employer must excuse the employee's absence from work for the duration of the obstacle. According to the ministry, the employee shall not be entitled to wages in this case.
In any case, employers must also keep in mind their obligations to the Czech Labour Office and/or to the relevant health insurance company and social security agency, i.e., they must report any terminations of employment to the labour office and continue to pay social security contributions and health insurance premiums during any unpaid leaves of absence or obstacles to work.
How to proceed if a Ukrainian employee decides to stay in the Czech Republic?
In our opinion, an employee receiving a conscription order from another state has no impact on the employment relationship from the employer's perspective. The employee is not even obliged to inform the employer of this. If they decide to continue working in the Czech Republic, nothing in Czech law will prevent them to do so. They should, of course, bear in mind the possible consequences under Ukrainian law. They must also make sure that they still have a valid work and residence permit.
Please note that Ukrainian workers and their family members are currently subject to more favourable conditions, both in terms of foreigners’ residence law and labour law: they can come to the CR solely on the basis of a valid biometric passport and insurance. According to the information published on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, persons who do not have a biometric passport cannot be guaranteed that they will be allowed into our territory. Read more here.