In which cases can a labour agreement be suspended during martial law?
Author: GOLAW Counsel Kateryna Tsvetkova
On 24 March 2022, the Law of Ukraine “On the Organization of Labour Relations under Martial Law” (hereinafter – the Law) entered into force. The Law provides employers and employees with the opportunity to suspend the labour agreement. According to Art. 13 of the Law in case of suspension of the labour agreement, the employer temporarily ceases to provide the employee with work, and the employee temporarily stops performing work. Suspension of the labour agreement is possible only during martial law and in connection with the military aggression against Ukraine, which excludes the possibility of providing and performing work.
Therefore, the main condition for the suspension of the labour agreement is the absolute impossibility of providing relevant work by employer and its performance by the employee. This is possible, for example, if the company is in a combat zone, the company’s premises are destroyed, damaged or the owner does not have access to the office, warehouse, and industrial premises and therefore objectively can not provide work to the employee. At the same time, an employee is also unable to perform work, for example, due to the destruction of his workplace or the equipment he worked on, or due to the employee’s departure abroad. In this case, it is possible to suspend the labour agreement.
It is important that the Law does not contain a list of cases that are grounds for suspension of the labour agreement. Each situation of the employee and the employer is individual, it must be assessed separately as to whether there is an objective possibility of providing and performing the work or not.
Suspension of the labour agreement does not mean dismissal of the employee. The employee and the employer continue to be in labour relations. However, since in case of suspension of the labour agreement work is not performed, the employer is not obliged to pay wages.
Both the employer and the employee can initiate the suspension of the labour agreement. The parties to the labour agreement should, if possible, notify each other of its suspension by any available means.