About the ILO in Ukraine

Devastating war causes displacements as well as losses of employment and income

The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is causing widespread internal displacement and refugee flows as well as large-scale employment and income losses. Before the war, Ukraine had already one of the fastest shrinking populations, and the war is accelerating the decline, with 7.8 million Ukrainians fleeing abroad as of September 2022.

Preliminary assessments indicate that national income will drop drastically in 2002 - between 35 and 45 per cent. According to ILO estimates, 15 per cent of employment (equivalent to 2.4 million jobs) has been lost as compared to 2021. As the war drags on, more Ukrainians could lose their jobs and millions could be pushed into poverty, offsetting years of development efforts.

The war made employment in Ukraine less protected, while labour legislation and its implementation was already weak before the war. Due to destruction and shutdown of enterprises, people have to turn to informal employment and subsistence agriculture.

Ukraine’s transition to a market economy faced serious political, economic, and security challenges before the 2022 war. The 2014 war in the East caused a 16 per cent contraction of GDP and an internal displacement of 2.3 million persons. Between 2016 and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019, the Ukrainian economy showed solid growth rates of around 3.5 per cent, but never fully recovered from the sharp economic downturn in 2014/15. Key labour market challenges inherited from the times before the invasion of the Russian Federation in 2022 remain low employment rates with a pronounced gender gap, high labour emigration, elevated youth unemployment and inactivity, and a notable skills mismatch.

The association agreement with the EU and the new granting of EU candidate status to Ukraine from June 2022 require an ambitious reform of labour and social policies, including alignment with International Labour Standards and EU Acquis Communautaire.

ILO interventions in Ukraine since the outbreak of the war (24 February 2022)

With support from its long-standing partners in Ukraine, the ILO rapidly re-purposed US$1.3 million of its existing funds to deliver humanitarian aid and income support. These funds have allowed the ILO to provide 7,750 bednights for displaced people in Ukraine, and 3,550 bednights for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. ILO also rapidly trained 300 Ukrainian labour inspectors on psychological first aid and developed an awareness raising campaign on the risks of human trafficking and labour exploitation targeting refugees, most of whom are women. As of late September, this campaign has reached out to 1.2 million displaced Ukrainians. All Moldovan labour inspectors received a refreshment training on human trafficking and forced labour, with a focus on persons fleeing the war in Ukraine. With ILO support, the State Labour Inspection provided 54,000 businesses, including relocated ones with information on conducting business during martial law, and on employment relationships. To date, 100,700 visits were made to the SLI website www.pratsia.in.ua. More information on the ILO response to the Ukraine crisis is here, and the ILO proposal for Support for Ukraine recovery is here

ILO Interventions in Ukraine before the war 

The key strategic framework for the ILO’s work in Ukraine is the Decent Work Country Programme 2020-2024 (DWCP). The three priorities for the programme are 1) improved social dialogue, 2) inclusive and productive employment, and 3) improved working conditions and social protection. The current DWCP also includes collaboration on the promotion of the latest International Labour Standard, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190). The Ukrainian Government is committed to ratify this new convention.

Ukraine is a member state of the ILO since 1954 (as part of the former USSR) and since 1991 as an independent state. Ukraine has ratified 71 ILO International Labour Standards (Conventions), including the eight fundamental and four priority Conventions.

The ILO is part of the United Nations System in Ukraine. The United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPF) for Ukraine 2018-2022 prioritized economic growth, employment, governance, and social protection as areas of strong ILO expertise, and assigned a lead role to the ILO in coordinating the UN’s work on employment creation.

Last updated December 2022