With the war in Ukraine generating all sorts of issues for lawyers, Integrites Partner Illya Tkachuk also points to the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the implications of legislative updates as being the key drivers of the firm’s Employment practice.
“The coupling of the effects brought on by the pandemic, as well as the war, has been impacting all of our practices across the board – most so our Employment practice,” Tkachuk begins. “We’ve been facing a rising tide of client inquiries relating to remote work, the regulation of remote office work, as well as work safety requirements.”
Since February 24 and the start of the war, Ukraine has been in a state of martial law, impacting all areas of legal work. “As a consequence, our Employment practice has faced a 30-40% increase in its workload,” Tkachuk continues.” Primarily, both domestic and foreign clients have questions related to the possibilities of, and effects of, cutting down payroll costs, relocating employees, engaging in staff reductions, and questions related to mobilization of employees and reservation of conscripts,” he explains. Additionally, Tkachuk says that “some 20% of client demands are still generated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Illustrating the complexities that the Employment practice of the firm has been facing, Tkachuk shares a few examples. “There was one case in which our client had their production plant destroyed, and five hundred employees had to be relocated. This included a partial reduction in staff size, introduction of remote work capacities, requalification of employees, to name just a few aspects,” he explains. “Also, we’ve had a situation in which our client’s plant had been located in an occupied territory – which is not a rare case. The client needed to relocate their production facilities and, because some of the employees could flee, a special regime had to be designed to ensure a continuous workflow,” he says.
While external factors appear to be the biggest drivers of the practice, Tkachuk does say that there were legislative updates that brought work for the firm as well. “Since the start of the pandemic, Ukraine has been hard at work to overhaul the Soviet-era employment legal framework. This process is still ongoing, and the overall situation is improving,” he reports. “The updated legislation covers numerous aspects of employment relations, including such specific regimes as the salary suspensions and employment contract suspensions, developed specifically for the martial law period.”
Looking ahead, Tkachuk feels that the levels of activity of Integrites’ Employment practice will keep up, if nothing else, on account of the “continuous improvement of the legislative framework. Of course, with the war raging in Ukraine, dealing with COVID-19 fallout is not a priority, but it is still here and is contributing to the pile of work drivers for us,” he explains. “I expect that, with all that in place, our Employment practice will keep up or even increase its level of activity,” he concludes.