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Supporting employees impacted by events in Ukraine

Posted 04/03/2022 : By: Jem Cranfield

Staff in many businesses may have links to countries involved in the ongoing events in Ukraine, including family or friends living in the affected regions or cultural ties to the area.  Others may be called up to serve in their countries’ defence forces over the weeks and months to come.  Employers may wish to share the following resources with their staff.

  • Details of visa requirements and extensions, including the eligibility criteria for Ukrainian’s wishing to join their families in the UK is here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/su...
  • Charities such as UNICEF, Save The Children and the British Red Cross are operating donation drives which individuals, teams or the Company may want to support
  • Mobile networks including O2, Vodafone, Three and EE have made calls and texts free from the UK to Ukraine – if your Company mobiles are with these networks you may consider allowing these to be used to maintain contact overseas as a temporary exception to usual policies
  • The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain are running an appeal and can also provide advice and support to Ukrainian nationals
  • The Great Britain – Russia Society are an independent, non-political, non-governmental Charity supporting and promoting understanding of Russian culture (http://gbrussia.org) and the Russian Embassy website provides links to Russian-speaking organisations in the UK (https://rusemb.org.uk/orgnatio...)
  • Foreign embassy contact details for all of the countries with an Embassy in the UK can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/...
  • If anyone needs an independent listening ear, then the Samaritans are contactable 24/7 on 116123 or via email or webchat at - https://www.samaritans.org/how...

Some countries have a policy of mandatory conscription into their armed forces during times of conflict.  Although there is a right in UK law for employees in the UK armed forces reserves to have their employment held open for them if they are deployed, it appears this right does not extend to reservists called to armies overseas.  Nevertheless, employers would need to act reasonably and consider whether it is possible to grant a period of paid or unpaid leave to enable the employee to meet their obligations. 

Employers should be aware of the possibility that as tensions run high conflict may arise between employees in the workplace, particularly where there is a diverse range of nationalities working together.  All employees have the legal right not to be harassed or treated less favourably on the grounds of their race (which includes nationality), religion or belief.  Employers must be prepared to remind staff of the need to treat others with dignity and respect, and to remember that this will be a difficult time for many on all sides of the conflict.

Even employees who are not directly impacted by these events may be feeling anxious or helpless about the situation or what the future may bring.  Try to encourage staff to limit their access to social media or the news if they feel themselves becoming overwhelmed.  The Internet can be a great resource but can also provide evidence which supports our worst fears or makes us more unhappy, a phenomenon known as ‘doomscrolling’.  If you can, support employees’ efforts to help in any way they wish to.  Encourage employees to take their full breaks from work and, as the weather begins to improve, welcome opportunities for them to get outside and to break up their routines. 

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Please note that none of the support organisations mentioned in this article are endorsed by Ashtons HR Consulting Ltd  


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