The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has forced millions of Ukrainians to seek refuge outside their homeland. Many of them have found themselves in Germany. In another Lunch & Learn session by People Mobility Alliance, we brought together a panel of global mobility experts and lawyers to delve into this pressing global issue. Together, they discussed the current developments in Ukraine and their implications on HR teams and companies from a legal and tech perspective.
Joining us for this highly insightful discussion were Tom Stieber, a seasoned Lawyer from renowned international law firm DWF, and Katrin Ruland, the founder of Noah Mobility, a global relocation tech company. Alongside them was our very own Daniel Zinner.
Our experts spoke on the legal frameworks surrounding immigration during this extraordinary situation. Furthermore, they explored how the substantial influx of Ukrainian migrants into the EU can be better managed and supported by integrating cutting-edge technology into relocation services.
In this article, we share the key insights from this enlightening session and shed light on the critical role of global mobility professionals in these unprecedented times.
Understanding legal frameworks that surround employment, immigration and integration is always essential for companies, but especially during the current migrant crisis. Below, you can find our key findings from our Lunch & Learn session on the complex landscape created by the war in Ukraine.
1. Legal frameworks and integration
One of the foremost concerns for companies dealing with an influx of Ukrainian refugees is navigating the legal frameworks that surround employment and integration. Organizations must remain well-informed to ensure compliance and offer the necessary support to their employees.
2. Relocation Requests
Our data indicates that many relocation requests have come from teams wanting to resettle themselves. These requests come from both Russia and Ukraine, signifying how widespread the impact of this conflict is. Companies must be ready to address these relocation needs effectively.
3. Bureaucratic Challenges
As with any international relocation to Germany, there are several bureaucratic challenges both companies and individuals must face. These include seemingly simple tasks like initial registration, as well as more complex tasks like taxation and work permits. HR teams need to take a comprehensive approach, ensuring they have global mobility expertise on hand and working with relocation service providers where needed.
4. Collaboration between legal and tech
Legal and tech experts must collaborate during these unprecedented times. The integration of innovative technology solutions into both legal and relocation services can help streamline processes and ensure efficiency that ultimately benefits both companies and employees.
5. The complexity of the EU temporary protection directive
Initially drafted in 2001, the EU Temporary Protection Directive serves as an extraordinary measure to provide immediate and temporary protection to people from non-EU countries who are forced to flee their country of origin. This directive was triggered for the first time in 2022, as a result of the Ukrainian conflict. However, this raises the question as to whether German law continues to apply in this scenario. HR teams and companies involved in the relocation process of Ukrainian individuals must work to understand the implications of this directive.
Those issues were discussed in more detail during our discussion.
Companies and HR teams must be proactive in addressing the legal issues that surround this complex situation. There were three main legal points addressed during our Lunch & Learn event about the conflict in Ukraine.
1. Bureaucratic challenges
Bureaucratic challenges are part of any international move. But those associated with the influx of Ukrainian migrants into the EU require a different and more strategic approach. These challenges include:
Registration procedure: HR teams should keep themselves updated on registration processes and requirements. Building relationships with key local authorities and immigration offices will help ensure smoother processes for those moving from Ukraine to Germany. Companies experiencing a large amount of new Ukrainian employees may prefer to consider appointing dedicated staff or perhaps partnering with specialist relocation service providers and immigration experts.
Work permits: Legal experts will help companies understand the specific regulations and eligibility criteria for Ukrainian migrants. Depending on the industry and skillsets of employees, there may be the option to receive expedited work permits.
Tax and social security law: Utilize tax specialists and legal advisors to help determine tax implications for both your company and your new Ukrainian employees. Consider providing guidance and resources to help employees understand their own tax obligations and entitlements. Implementing a robust payroll system that is capable of handling international tax compliance is also highly recommended.
2. Temporary protection directive and applicability of German law
Understanding the interplay between the Temporary Protection Directive and German law is vital for companies to offer the right support to Ukrainian employees. Our panellists discussed three main ways to effectively address this issue:
Legal expertise: Getting advice from legal experts specialising in immigration and asylum law will help companies seek clarity on whether Ukrainian migrants qualify for the provisions under the Temporary Protection Directive and how this might impact their right to access employment. Legal professionals will provide clear guidance on compliance with both EU and national laws.
Stay informed: HR teams must stay on top of any amendments or further clarifications related to the Temporary Protection Directive. This way, you can ensure your company is aware of any evolving legal obligations and quickly adapt policies and procedures accordingly. It is also important to relay these updates via regular communication to employees so they are kept in the loop.
Document compliance: More than ever, keeping records of compliance is of the highest importance. Employment contracts, work permits, and any additional support provided to Ukrainian migrants must be well documented to show your company is working per both the Temporary Protection Directive and German law.
3. Structuring employment contracts
Employment contracts must be tailored to suit the unique circumstances of Ukrainian migrants. They must provide clarity and protection for both parties. The experts at our Lunch & Learn event provided the following insights:
Customisation is key: Work with legal experts to make sure employment contracts address the specific needs and uncertainties arising from the Ukrainian crisis. This might include provisions to work duration, remote work options and potential changes in employment status based on evolving legal conditions.
Flexibility: As a company, you must learn to build some level of flexibility into employment contracts to accommodate potential and urgent shifts in working arrangements or locations.
Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with your Ukrainian employees whenever there are changes to the employment contract. Offer a space for employees to ask their questions, seek clarification or express any concerns they may have.
As well as the legal aspects involved in the Ukrainian conflict, technology also plays an important role in the current transitions for both companies and their newly arrived employees. The experts involved in our Lunch & Learn session provided three main insights on how best to utilize technology during this time.
1. Leveraging relocation tech services
Incorporating technology solutions into relocation processes will prove extremely helpful when facing the challenges posed by the arrival of Ukrainian migrants into the EU. Our global mobility and legal experts shared the following insights:
Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment: Beginning by conducting a thorough assessment of specific needs and challenges posed by Ukrainian migrants will help identify pain points within the relocation process and help you understand what you need to prioritise to ensure a smooth transition. These could include language barriers, administrative complexities or housing shortages.
Invest in customized technology solutions: Relocation tech service providers often tailor their solutions to the unique demands of any given situation. By investing in these services, you will be able to provide comprehensive guidance on several processes like registration, accommodation and other essential steps.
Integration with HR systems: Investing in technology is all well and good but integrating it with your HR systems is critical. This allows for efficient data sharing and ensures employee information and compliance data are accurately tracked and managed.
2. Streamlining local registration and accommodation
Local registration and securing accommodation are two of the biggest hurdles in German bureaucracy. Given the current situation, it is important that Ukrainian employees receive a proactive approach from HR teams.
Proactive engagement: Partnering with local authorities, housing providers and registration offices will help ensure a smooth process for everyone involved. Opening clear communication channels will help understand the evolving requirements, preemptively addressing any potential bottlenecks.
Digital document management: Companies should embrace digital documentation to streamline all processes and keep electronic records of everything that are easy to access. Relocation tech providers can help implement secure document management solutions.
Employee support: Companies and HR teams must set up guidance programmes to help ease the transition for Ukrainian employees. Creating easily accessible resources in multiple languages will help migrants feel more at home at a much quicker rate.
3. The role of leading tech providers
Industry-leading tech providers like Noah Mobility open the doors to advanced integration and onboarding tools that can enhance the overall relocation experience and ease the transition for new employees. Here are three ways tech providers can help, according to our experts:
Technology integration: Maximize the benefits of leading tech providers. Companies like Noah Mobility can seamlessly integrate their eBIS interface and onboarding tools with your company’s existing HR and relocation systems. This helps simplify data transfers and reduces manual entries.
Employee onboarding: Leverage onboarding tools like interactive welcome packages, orientation sessions and resources on local culture and customs. Make sure to help employees feel welcomed in their new environment.
Continuous training: Utilise tech providers for ongoing training that will support both HR teams and employees. This ensures everyone can use the provided technology in a proficient way and readily access the resources they need when they want.
By implementing the suggested strategies from our experts, companies and HR teams can easily navigate the current challenges faced by the arrival of Ukrainian migrants. They also help create a positive experience for everyone involved.
We would like to thank our panellists for their time during this Lunch & Learn session on a very pressing issue.
Event Sponsors: CLEVIS Consult, Noah Mobility, dwf