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What do you need to know about employing Ukrainian workers in Germany?

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, over 300.000 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Germany. As a return to Ukraine will not be possible any time soon, many of them decided to settle down for now and try to find a job. There is an enormous amount of willingness among the public  to support the Ukrainian refugees , not only in terms of food, clothing, and housing, but also in finding work. The German government has already removed as many visa restrictions as possible however, there are still a few things to consider.

What kind of work permit do Ukrainian workers need?

As covered in our February blog where we provided an overview of the several work permits for Germany, members of a third country such as Ukraine would usually either need a job seeker visa or a Blue Card visa. However, in the light of this extreme situation, the EU states have agreed to admit Ukrainian refugees unbureaucratically by activating the  2001 created mass influx directive (officially called Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof) for the first time. This EU directive allows refugees to find protection in the EU member states.

Upon arrival and after having registered the new accommodation at the local town hall, the first step is to contact the local immigration office. Based on the mass influx directive, the immigration office can issue a temporary residence permit. If Ukrainians wish to take up  employment, it is possible to include a note that work in Germany is permitted “Erwerbstätigkeit erlaubt”. Due to the currently high demand, it might take a while until they receive the permit, but in the meantime, many immigration offices issue preliminary residence permits “Fiktionsbescheinigungen” to facilitate the job search.

Do the German authorities accept all Ukrainian professional degrees?

It depends if the candidate would like to work in a so-called regulated profession such as health care workers, legal advisors, engineers, certain crafts and teachers in public schools. In that case, official recognition by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is required. The Recognition Finder of the German government is a free database available in English and German to check whether the job falls under a regulated profession.

In case of not working in a regulated profession, Ukrainian job seekers can start working as soon as they receive their residence and work permit without having to go through a degree recognition process and no additional approval by the authorities is required. This also applies for Freelancers.

Data protection: are employers allowed to ask for proof of the work permit?

Employers are not only allowed to, but they are also obliged by law to check if the candidate has a valid work permit prior to hiring . Moreover, it is not sufficient to have the candidate show the permit. The employer needs to store a hard copy or digital copy of the work permit during the entire duration of the employment relationship.

Since it  might take time until refugees get an appointment with the immigration office, in order to still be able to present a job offer, it can be helpful to include a condition precedent in the work contract. This means the contract is only valid in connection with a work permit.

If during the employment relationship, the employee later on cannot provide an extension of the permit, the employer is forced to end the employment relationship upon the expiration date. Therefore, it is best to monitor the expiration date and remind the employee as early as possible to ensure a smooth continuation.

What else do I need to know when creating the employment contract?

Regarding the contract language, an employment contract is valid in German even if the employee does not understand any German, because German is the binding language in German labour law. However, for the convenience of both parties and to avoid misunderstandings, it makes sense to create a bilingual contract with two columns. Provided the employee speaks English, English is usually sufficient as Ukrainian or Russian language skills are usually not at hand in most German companies.

What happens when I realize that the Ukrainian candidate is not the right fit for my company after all?

Ukrainian employees in Germany have the same workers’ rights and protection against dismissal as German employees. The Dismissal Protection Act applies if the worker has been employed for at least six months and the company has more than ten employees. This means, terminating an employment relationship after the maximum probationary period of six months requires a reason. During the probationary period, no reason is required and there are usually shorter notice periods. If you would rather avoid monitoring notice periods and if you are unsure if this shall be a long-term employment relationship, a fixed-term contract can be a desirable choice.

Is labour leasing possible?

If you decide you would rather be completely flexible; labour leasing might be the best option for you.

While labour leasing in Germany with third country nationals is usually only allowed under few circumstances (Blue Card visa and spousal visa in connection with a Blue Card holder, student visa, permanent residency and in some cases asylum seekers), the European Union Temporary Protection Directive allows labour leasing with the residence and work permit mentioned above. Provided, the candidate will not work in a regulated profession, no additional approval by the Federal Employment Agency is required.

People2.0 Germany has an indefinite labour leasing license for Germany and has a local experts team that take care of the employer obligations, including compliant contracts and payroll on time. Find out more about our labour leasing solution in our blog.

How TCP/People2.0 can help?

TCP Solutions is part of the People2.0 group of companies, who is the leading provider of contingent workforce engagement solutions within the EMEA, U.S. and globally.

Should you like further information about how we could assist you and your company regarding working with temporary workers and contractors compliantly following local tax rulings, GDPR and work safety regulations, do not hesitate to contact us via or send us a message via our contact page. We would be delighted to speak to you regarding the possibilities.