Business asks not to change approaches to the employment of persons with disabilities during martial law
The relevant novelties are provided in draft law No. 7433 that the VRU Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy Committee recommends for adoption in the first reading.
First, it is proposed to change the approach to calculating the number of workplaces for the employment of persons with disabilities. Currently, employers independently make such calculations and annually submit them in the form of a report on employment of persons with disabilities using form No. 10-POI. Draft Law No. 7433 proposes to transfer this duty to territorial branches of the Fund for Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities, which will receive the necessary data from the Pension Fund of Ukraine.
On the one hand, business is exempted from the obligation to submit another report, which actually duplicates information contained in quarterly reports on the Personal Income Tax and the Single Social Contribution. On the other hand, data that will be operated by state bodies, independently collecting and processing information with the help of e-registers, may require clarification and/or adjustment. Thus, the current legislation allows companies to make adjustments both for the current and for previous reporting periods. And the draft law does not provide to adjust the documents.
Secondly, a too short period is established between receiving information about the implementation of the standard and the deadline for paying a fine for non-compliance with the standard. Thus, it is proposed to send the calculation of the number of workplaces for the employment of persons with disabilities to companies by April 1 and to keep the time for paying the fine for non-compliance with the standard until April 15. In this way, there is an elimination of the employer’s right to challenge the results, namely due to adjusting the reports submitted for previous periods or to prove that it took all the measures possible to prevent such an offense, is eliminated.
Thirdly, new grounds are established for inspections from the State Service of Ukraine on Labor Issues. If there are signs of violations of legislation on the employment of persons with disabilities detected in the information from the State Register, these may become a reason for inspection of companies by the controlling authorities according to the version of draft law No. 7433. This may create an additional burden on business with an increase in the number of unplanned measures of state supervision and control in labor relations, recently resumed despite martial law. And given the fact that entrepreneurs were exempted from the obligation to submit reports during the period of martial law and in the first months after its end, it may be difficult for businesses to defend their interests in front of inspectors due to their lack of necessary reporting.
Fourthly, as intended by the authors of the document, the draft law is meant to support the employment of persons with disabilities in wartime by improving control over compliance with the quota for employment of such persons and imposing administrative and economic sanctions in necessary cases. At the same time, the issue of changing the target use of proceeds from the payment of sanctions by companies for non-compliance with the standard is not proposed by the draft Law.
The audit of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine in 2016 showed that despite stable sources of funding for the employment of persons with disabilities, namely, from fines for non-compliance with the standard paid by companies to the Fund for Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities, the actual amount of direct expenditures for this purpose and the training budget for such persons not only remain low in the general structure, but it is decreasing. In 2016, expenditures on professional training and job creation for persons with disabilities amounted to UAH 34.6 million, and in 2020 – UAH 22.7 million.
Moreover, in 2020-2021, companies were not given financial assistance at all for the technical equipment of existing or potential new workplaces for the employment of persons with disabilities. And if at the beginning of 2017, out of 2.7 million people with disabilities, 666.8 thousand were working, then as of December 31, 2020, this figure decreased to 417,897 people.
On April 14, 2021, at the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska, the National Strategy 2030 for the Creation of a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine was approved. Increasing the level of employment of persons with disabilities is one of its strategic goals. A new version of draft law No. 5344-d was developed with the joint efforts of the authorities, business, and the public sector. The basis for it is a balanced comprehensive reform in the field of employment of people with disabilities – both by improving the administration of sanctions for non-compliance with the standard and by encouraging employers. For example, counting employees with complex nosologies as 1 employed person with a disability for 2 full-time employees to meet the standard of workplaces; providing a person with a disability who is employed on the referral of the employment center of the State Employment Service, social support of workplaces at the expense of the Fund for the Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities; employment in the civil service of persons with disabilities, etc. However, currently, the country and businesses, in particular, have found themselves in an extraordinary crisis. It is important for a transparent business to stay afloat and hold on – to continue supporting the economic front, to continue working to support the country. A transparent business understands the importance of supporting employees, paying salaries, etc., and does everything possible to fulfill its commitments. However, the changes proposed by the draft law and their potential consequences are unlikely to help business operations. Moreover, they are unlikely to contribute to the strengthening of the country′s economy. That is why this issue should be approached in a comprehensive way – first, adopt draft law No. 5344-d (where a comprehensive reform is defined), and then strengthen control over its implementation.
Therefore, the European Business Association is currently appealing to the specialized Committee of the Parliament with a request to make changes to draft law No. 7433 and to exclude provisions on sanctions for non-fulfillment of employment standards for persons with disabilities.