Current Challenges of the Labour Law of Ukraine: On the Way to European Integration

Author:Yana Simutina
Yana Simutina
PhD, Senior Research Fellow
V.M. Koretsky Institute of State and Law
National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Current Challenges of the
Labour Law of Ukraine:
On the Way to European Integration
1. Introduction
Ever since the declaration of independence in 1991, reforms to the legal system and various associated
codi cation processes have been under way in Ukraine. In most branches of Ukrainian law, we now have
modern codi ed acts, and in some spheres the acts of law have already been updated several times.
At the same time, in the eld of regulating labour relations, the situation surrounding adoption of the
new Labor Code has remained unclear for a long time. In particular, political, economic, and scienti c-legal
discussions are still in progress with regard to the various possible ways of reforming labour legislation.
The current labour law in force in Ukraine is a kind of ‘hybrid’ between a proclamation of market-based
principles and a somewhat modernised form of the old framework ‘inherited from’ Soviet times but pro-
viding better guarantees of labour rights. This has led to an imbalance between the norms of labour law
inscribed on paper and the real-world relations between workers and employers. Piecemeal e orts by the
state to increase liability for violating the norms and guarantees provided for employees under the current
labour legislation tend to have the opposite e ect, and the corresponding reaction from employers is to
avoid – in every way possible – applying ‘inconvenient’ norms, to utilise the gaps in the legislation, or to
simply ignore the law. This has led to a situation wherein the proportion of illegal or undeclared work in
Ukraine, according to the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine in 2017, is over 23%, which means that for
3.7 million Ukrainians, or every third working citizen, there is no formal registration of labour relations*1.
These circumstances render it all the more regrettable that the process of improving the legal regulation
of labour relations is not systemic but chaotic, generating numerous inconsistencies of legal norms. Against
this backdrop, there is a visible tendency to put greater weight instead on judicial practice in cases of labour
disputes, particularly the legal positions taken by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, in which the legislation is
not interpreted as actually having been modi ed.
One of the signi cant problems with the labour legislation in Ukraine is the lag it displays in account-
ing for the forms of social relations that exist and the practical needs arising from the rapid development of
information technologies and innovations in tandem with advances of modern post-industrial society – in
particular, the spread of the virtual labour market and the entry into of non-standard labour contracts.
In summary, the necessity for recodifying Ukrainian labour law is rooted in several factors: 1) that most
of the labour-law norms do not truly function in practice; 2) the large amount of undeclared and illegal
   .  .   . Available online in Ukrainian at (most recently accessed on  June ).

To continue reading