Ukraine crisis

The ILO offers information to prevent labour exploitation of Ukrainian refugees seeking work in Germany

The ILO Berlin and Budapest offices, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Federal German Employment Agency, joined forces to come out with a flyer on the dangers of labour exploitation to help Ukrainian refugees who look for employment in Germany.

News | 16 September 2022
Since the Russian Federation started its war against Ukraine at the end of February, more than 5.6 million individual refugees were recorded across Europe, including an estimated 900,000 Ukrainians who travelled to Germany to escape the war. 

Language is often a barrier to finding proper jobs as many of the Ukrainian refugees do not speak German or English. Two thirds of the Ukrainian refugees in Europe have an advanced level of education and 50% were working in high-skilled occupations—however, the lack of official recognition of skills can be another hurdle to integration in the labour market. 

Approximately 85% of the refugees are women and children, traveling without the men in the family who are drafted or stay at home. When they run out of money, people start to look for employment in their new location to provide for themselves and their families. They might be tempted to accept work without contract, or their documents are taken away, and they may wind up exploited or in extreme cases as victims of forced labour or child labour.

The ILO Budapest and Berlin offices partnered up, aided by the IOM and the Federal German Employment agency, to assist Ukrainian refugees with essential information that can help them to find employment free from exploitation and discrimination. The flyer “Find good work” explains why and how direct work offers can potentially be exploitative, and accepting accommodation and food from an employer can lead to dependency and debt. It provides information on the current minimum wage in Germany and warns that contracts are crucial for secure employment. It stresses the importance of registering with the authorities which is a guarantee of protection, enabling social benefits and accommodation if needed. Additional resources are linked in to guide refugees about labour rights, occupational safety and health regulations and career counselling services in Germany. 

The flyer will be translated into several languages and publicly displayed at train stations, welcome centers and other public places. It will also be shared with NGOs and diaspora groups which can disseminate it among newly arrived Ukrainians. 

The ILO has been working on keeping Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced Ukrainians informed about the danger of labour exploitation since the start of the war. It carried out an information campaign on Ukrainian railways dispersing key messages about how to prevent falling victim to labour exploitation, human trafficking and forced labour. This campaign reached out to 400,000 Ukrainians until today.