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New law limiting rights of public servants in Ukraine

New law limiting rights of public servants in Ukraine

Only about two months have passed from the entry into force of the Law On Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine on Restarting Government Institutions (registration number 1066), Ukrainian parliament passed on the first reading another bill (No.2260) undermining the labor rights and professionalism of public servants. It amends the Law of Ukraine “On public service” as well as the Law “On trade unions, their rights and guarantees of their activity”.

As LI reported before, law №1066 significantly limits labor rights for more than 240 000 civil servants in Ukraine, specifically restricting the right of civil servants to use trade union mechanisms of workers’ rights protection.

Draft law №2260 further limits workers’ rights of civil servants for the following reasons:

1. The draft law enables regulation of trade union issues in the special Law on Public Servants like currently in the special laws on police, military, security service, prison guards, and intelligence. It removes civil servants from the general trade union laws and protections. LI lawyers express their concerns that in fact such amendment will allow narrowing the scope of trade union rights and guarantees in the special Law on Public Servants. Besides, decreasing of social partners role in public service will not contribute to fair and transparent decisions regarding employment conditions as well as hiring experienced professionals.

2. The law draft allows for extension of the fixed-term labor contract with public servant only one time for the term up to three years (current edition of the Law on public service establishes extension of the contract for a set three years). This norm is at odds with the principle of stability, which provides for the appointment of public servants for an indefinite period. This is a particularly troubling issue, LI attorneys noted, as it will make all public servants short term, and allow for extensive patronage turn-over when new executives come in to office. Additionally, the lack of any tenure for public servants significantly undermines their incentive to report corruption.

3. The said Law on Public Service, in its new edition (amendments to Art.31-1) establishes that “labor legislation does not extend to public servants, except Art.39-1 (termination of a labor contract on employee`s will), 41 (additional grounds for termination of labour contract on the initiative of employer), 42 (preferential right to retain job at dismissal), 43-1 (termination of a labor contract after the previous consent of an elected trade union body), 49-2 (redundancy procedure), 118, 119 (guarantees for elected union leaders) and p. 3 Art. 184 (guarantees for pregnant women and women with children in case of dismissal).”

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While these are important, they are a small subset of the labor rights guarantees in general legislation. Thus, the scope of labor legislation applying to public service is significantly reduced. This wording excludes public servants from under the jurisdiction of Labor Code norms that would help resolve common issues that emerge in their work context: for instance, norms about working time, guarantees for working women with children, collective agreements etc.

4. The draft law proposes to increase the termination conditions timeframe for employees being dismissed. The current legislation provides that all payments should be carried out on the day of dismissal. Draft law No.2260 proposes to settle all payments in 10 days after dismissal. As the Main scientific and expert department of the Verkhovna Rada stated, this norm directly influences future employment of the workers, as well as realization of their right to timely wage payment.

5. Layoff of public servants or their dismissal because of liquidation of a public authority will be possible without a previous consent or consultation of a trade union body (currently such consultation is an obligatory element in layoff procedure). The Main Scientific and Expert department of the Parliament stated that such provision did not coincide with the international norms, in particular the ILO Convention 151.