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14 Jun 2023

Ukrainian refugees face barriers accessing regular employment & experience poor working conditions, finds Eurofound report

Eurofound has released a report exploring barriers to employment for Ukrainian refugees in Europe. The report analyses data from an online survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in August – September 2022, covering countries that share a border with Ukraine (Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia); and those with high numbers of displaced Ukrainians, both in absolute terms (Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Italy and Spain) and relative to the nation’s overall population (Estonia). The survey collected data on Ukrainians' experiences of work, education, housing, health, and border crossing.

35% of respondents were in paid employment at the time of the survey. The survey found that the most common form of employment contract was temporary contracts (60%); further, 10% of the working respondents had no employment contract.

The prevalence of irregular work emerged as an issue cited in relation to labour market barriers, with 23% of respondents stating that they could only find irregular work. The report suggests this conveys respondents felt there were problems with the quality of jobs available to them.

Respondents also experienced poor working conditions. Around three in ten respondents in paid employment experienced at least one of the following:

  • Being underpaid or not paid for work.
  • Working very long hours.
  • Having difficulties communicating freely with others.
  • Working without a contract, or with a contract that does not cover all working hours.

A low share (1%) reported a lack of breaks; restricted access to food, water, or a toilet; a lack of protective equipment; and intimidation or violence by their employer.

The report also notes sectoral differences in working conditions, with Ukrainians generally employed in sectors where irregular jobs are prevalent, including construction, hospitality, and retail. Issues with working conditions reported by women largely occurred in manufacturing (26%) and hospitality (16%); while among men, issues largely emerged in construction (26 %), manufacturing (22%) and transport/logistics (16%).