Employing Ukrainian Refugees: What Employers Should Know

What should employers who want to hire refugees from Ukraine think about? You should know this about residence permits, work permits and regulations in the employment contract.

The basics in brief

  • Refugees from Ukraine enjoy a special status. The so-called mass flow routing applies to them.
  • You are allowed to work once you have applied for a residence permit and obtained a so-called fictitious certificate.

Content: What to expect in this article

Do Ukrainian refugees have to apply for asylum?

Refugees from Ukraine do not have to apply for asylum, says Nina Seninger, a lawyer who specializes in labor law at the Hamburg law firm Becker Tilly. This results from what is called mass flow routing. It quickly and easily coordinates a large number of refugees, and was created in 2001 as a response to the Balkan wars.

Upon application, refugees from Ukraine receive a residence permit under the Residence Act. This is the so-called temporary protection residence permit. Asylum applications can be submitted, but the asylum procedure is suspended during the period of the residence permit.

How long do refugees get this residence permit?

The residence permit is limited to one year, but can be extended for a maximum of three years. An extension is possible if temporary protection is still required, for example if the war in Ukraine is still going on.

Who is entitled to a residence permit?

To order:

  • Ukrainian citizens and their family members (spouse, domestic partner, minor children and close relatives, even if they are not Ukrainian citizens) who were in Ukraine before February 24, 2022.
  • Stateless persons and nationals of other countries who enjoyed international protection or an equivalent national protection before February 24, 2022. For example, people who have obtained asylum in Ukraine.
  • Stateless persons and third-country nationals who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit prior to February 24, 2022 and cannot safely and permanently return to their country of origin.

How long does it take for refugees to obtain a residence permit?

Due to the large number of applications, a processing time of several weeks should be expected, according to Senninger.

Are Ukrainian refugees allowed to work in Germany?

According to Article 12 of the Collective Influx Directive (2001/55/EC), refugees from Ukraine may work on their own account or work on their own during the period in which temporary protection exists. According to the lawyer, Senninger’s law firm already employs several colleagues from Ukraine.

Do Ukrainian refugees need a work permit?

According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, a residence permit automatically gives you the right to self-employment or work. In the residence permit, the authority enters that gainful employment is permitted.

By the way, refugees are allowed to work once they have applied for a residence permit and obtained the so-called fictitious certificate. According to information from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, this was already issued when the application was submitted.

Should the employment agency agree if the employer wants to hire Ukrainian refugees?

Usually, the employment agency must approve the employment of refugees. To do this, you first perform what is called a priority check. The priority check aims to prevent the negative effects of the mass influx on the German labor market. It is intended to give priority to domestic applicants or applicants of the same status for a particular job. If an asylum seeker applies for a job, it must first be determined whether a suitable candidate with a German or EU passport can be found for the job.

“However, the priority check is not done with Ukrainian refugees because it is currently supposed to be done quickly,” says Seninger. Therefore, if you want to hire someone who fled Ukraine, you do not need the approval of the employment agency.

What should employers consider in employment contracts with refugees?

Basically there are no special features. “If someone has a valid work permit, they are an ordinary employee, and they have all rights and obligations,” Senninger says. However, if the residence permit is limited in time, a fixed-term employment contract makes sense. Either as a time limit until the end of the work permit or as a so-called purpose limit, so that the work contract automatically ends when the work permit expires.

More on this: Fixed-term employment: The 9 biggest mistakes in fixed-term contracts

The Mass Flow Directive also provides for compliance with all statutory regulations, for example with regard to wages. So the minimum wage applies.

Who are the refugees who can do an internship?

Anyone who obtains a work permit under the Mass Flow Directive (see above) can undertake an internship.

What should be done if the refugees, for example, want to return to Ukraine after six months?

If people who have fled Ukraine want to return home – for example because the war is over – they may have to end their work prematurely. In such cases, the parties can agree to sign the termination agreement. “It can be done relatively quickly,” Senninger says.

More on the topic: Termination Agreement: This is how you separate on good terms

What applies if refugees want to stay longer than the permitted three years?

According to the mass influx directive, the residence permit for refugees can be extended for a maximum of three years. If you want to stay in Germany after that, you must apply for another residence permit before your residence permit expires.

“Refugees will not be able to obtain a permanent residence permit such as a residence permit or a long-term residence permit from the European Union,” says Seninger. Therefore refugees will first have to apply for another temporary residence permit, for example for the purpose of gainful employment (§§ 18 ff. AufenthG) or for the purpose of training (§§ 16-17 AufenthG).

In addition, refugees from Ukraine need a visa. You must apply for this in your country. “Currently, the Federal Ministry of the Interior considers it unreasonable for Ukrainians to go through the visa process in their home country,” says Seninger. When the war is over, that will likely change – and a visa for a (temporary) residence permit will likely be required again.

Do Ukrainian workers have to quarantine after entering the country because of Corona?

As of February 27, 2022, Ukraine is no longer classified as a high-risk region. According to the coronavirus entry regulation, there is only a general obligation to test before entering the country, but there is no longer an obligation to quarantine. Employers should ask about the vaccination status if necessary: ​​the vaccination rate in Ukraine is much lower than in Germany. According to RKI, the percentage is about 36 percent.

What points of contact can interested employers contact?

There are actually many job portals where employers can search for employees from Ukraine and post job offers. These sites include jobaidukraine.com and UA Talents. “These job portals are not working for profit and donate all proceeds to various purposes in Ukraine,” Senninger says.

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