International Labour Standards

“Ukraine works!” 5-year ILO project closes with improved occupational health and safety standards and more effective State Labour Inspectorate

The EU-funded project provided assistance to strengthen the Ukrainian State Labour Inspection with the long-term objective of contributing to a safe, healthy and declared work in Ukraine. In addition, the project had to respond to some of the challenges posed by the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. It informed Ukrainian refugees about the danger of forced labour and human trafficking, helped enterprises with business continuity during martial law, and piloted psychosocial support for workers.

News | 30 May 2023
The ILO project “Towards safe, healthy and declared work in Ukraine” funded by the European Union was launched five years ago with an agenda of reducing undeclared work, formulating a new legislation on occupational safety and health (OSH), and building a strong State Labour Inspection.

The project was devised to address the long-standing structural problems of Ukraine around poor working conditions including high prevalence of work accidents and occupational diseases as well as undeclared work.

Under the EU Association Agreement Ukraine committed to ensure gradual approximation to EU law, standards and practices in the area of employment, social policy and equal opportunities. In this context, the alignment of Ukrainian legislation with the EU Directives on OSH, labour relations, anti-discrimination and gender equality is of particular importance and the ILO project provided support culminating in a new national draft law on Occupational Safety and Health. As Ukraine became an EU candidate country in 2022, the issue of complying with key EU and International standards on OSH and undeclared work has become even more important.

What has the project achieved?

The project helped to draft a modern legal framework for promoting OSH. Through technical consultations with government and social partners, it supported the drafting of the law on workers’ safety and health and provided recommendations to the implementation of related EU directives often building on International Labour Standards. The new Ukrainian OSH law is now with the Parliament of the country for consultations and adoption.
“The main thing the project achieved is that our vision, attitudes and understanding of OSH principles have changed.”
Yuriy Kuzovoy, Minister of Economy (January 2020-May 2023)
“We have outlined a vector to follow. We have understood the strategic components of OSH. We saw the gaps in our legislation when comparing Ukrainian legislation with European directives. We outlined certain steps to amend our OSH legislation.”
Serhiy Symenko, Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine
“What was interesting to us, and to me personally, is to learn about the international experience in maintaining OSH standards. What are the means, the tools, financial incentives that can be applied to encourage businesses to invest in OSH?”
Oleksiy Miroshnychenko, Confederation of Employers of Ukraine

State Labour Inspection

The ILO project helped to put into place the systems and procedures for roll out of modern labour inspection services. The ILO gave technical recommendations on the the recruitment, training and powers of labour inspectors. The inspectors themselves received hands-on trainings in updated inspection techniques and soft skills to detect and prevent undeclared work.
“Our relation with employers has become more trusting. They ask us more straightforward questions.”
Tetyana Zamula, State Labour Inspection
“The way labour inspectors position themselves has changed, as well as they way they help employers and workers.”
Olha Bohdanova, European Society of Occupational Safety and Health

Reduction of undeclared work

The ILO project devised an information campaign called “Go to light!” which disseminated information on the risks and consequences of undeclared work reaching about 5 million Ukrainians. During the project duration, over 600,000 Ukrainians “came to light”, as a result of State Labour Inspection information and inspection visits. The project also targeted youth, with 400,000 youngsters learning how their employment status will impact their wages and benefits, social security, pension as well as tax revenues of the state.

Response to workers’ needs at the time of war

“The ILO project was one of the projects that very quickly managed to catch the needs of society after the Russian aggression.”
Natalia Nenyuchenko, Secretariat of the National Tripartite Socio-Economic Council
Over 9,500 workers from 14 public sector, healthcare and education sector entities and IT companies benefited from a pilot psychosocial support training programme. 400 labour inspectors, social partners were trained on psychosocial support, with toolkits accessible on the State Labour Inspectorate web portal. The ILO project, with support from the Ukrainian Railways, disseminated information on the danger of human trafficking and forced labour among the 3.6 million Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons travelling on intercity trains. Labour inspectors reached out to over 400,000 people with this information at travel hubs in Ukraine and Poland. All labour inspectors in Moldova were trained on prevention of forced labour among Ukrainian refugees. With ILO support, the Confederation of Employers of Ukraine launched the campaign “Ukraine without forced labour!” to inform and guide companies on how they can prevent forced labour among their employees. In addition, the State Labour Inspection informed about 76,000 enterprises, including relocated companies on how to continue business operations during martial law. The State Labour Inspection website received 149,000 visits to its portal dedicated to employment relationships.