On 1 July 2022, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted draft Law of Ukraine No. 7251 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Optimising Labour Relations" (the "Draft Law 7251"). The adopted Draft Law 7251 has been submitted to the President of Ukraine for signature, and in the case of its signing, it will enter into force on the day following its publication.

Firstly, the Draft Law 7251 is aimed at clarifying and improving a number of provisions of the Law of Ukraine "On Organisation of Labour Relations during the Martial Law Status" (the "Law"), which was adopted in March 2022 and has a temporary nature. The Draft Law 7251 also changes a number of fundamental provisions of the Labour Code of Ukraine (the "Labour Code"), expanding the powers of the employer in labour relations, and such changes are not limited in time by the duration of martial law.

The key provisions of the Draft Law 7251 are as follows:

Amendments to the Law, which expire with the termination of the martial law:

  • the procedure for suspending labour relations for the period of martial law has been regulated. Despite the unchanged definition of the employment relations suspension, which provides for the mutual impossibility of the employer and the employee to provide and perform work, the new procedure provides for the unilaterality of the employer's decision to suspend employment relations and the right of the employee to appeal such order to the State Labour Service. Also, the Draft Law 7251 provides for the retrospective right of employees to appeal the employers' decisions on suspension, made after the Law came into force;
  • the limitation of the duration of the principal annual vacation during martial law was abolished. From now on, limiting vacation to 24 calendar days is not an imperative rule, but the right of the employer;
  • unpaid vacation was introduced for an employee who left Ukraine or is an internally displaced person. During the period of martial law, such vacation must be provided by the employer upon the employee's request for a duration of up to 90 calendar days;
  • specified requirements for increased normal and reduced working hours during martial law. The obligation and generality of 60-hour and 50-hour working week is eliminated, instead, the possibility of increasing the duration of working hours to 60 hours per week (50 hours per week with reduced working hours) is provided for employees of critical infrastructure with a proportional increase in salary;
  • the right of the employer and the employee during the martial law to agree on alternative ways of creating, sending and storing the employer's orders and other documents related to labour relations and on other available methods of electronic communication, however, the Draft Law 7251 does not specify how such an agreement should be recorded. At the same time, a Labour Code provision is being improved in terms of the possibility to provide in the employment agreement for methods of acquaintance with the employer's orders and other labour documents using the means of electronic communication networks using an improved or qualified electronic signature;
  • During the period of martial law, the Draft Law 7251 cancels the application of fines for violations of labour legislation, provided for by the Labour Code, in the event that employers properly comply with orders to eliminate violations revealed during unscheduled inspections.

Changes to labour legislation, the term of which is not limited by the termination of the martial law:

  • the provision of the Labour Code on preserving the average salary of employees called up for military service was abolished. At the same time, place of work and position will continue to be preserved for such employees during their military service;
  • new grounds for dismissing an employee and procedure for their application have been added to the Labour Code:
  • the employee's death or the employer's death;
  • the employee's absence from work and information about the reasons for such absence for more than four months in a row; and
  • the impossibility of providing the employee with work specified in the employment agreement due to the destruction (absence) of production, organisational and technical conditions, means of production or the employer's property as a result of hostilities.

The provided dismissal procedures do not determine the principal point – what shall constitute the evidence base for dismissal on such grounds and what are the employer's obligations in forming such evidence. So, most likely, the procedure for dismissal on such grounds will have to be shaped by court practice, as is already the case with other grounds for dismissal.

  • The Draft Law 7251 changes the statutes of limitations established in the Labour Code in disputes about the payments due to an employee upon dismissal, and also introduces a limitation of such amounts. Instead of the unlimited statute of limitations, a 3-month statute of limitations is established in disputes about payment to the employee of all amounts due in connection with dismissal, while the average salary in the event of a delay in payment upon dismissal will be paid for no more than for 6 months, regardless of the actual time of settlement.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.