Poland to facilitate work and child benefits for Ukrainian refugees

The Polish government is seeking to introduce new measures that will make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to obtain the right to work and receive child benefits. A number of large employers have also looked for ways to make it easier to hire Ukrainians.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, more than 500,000 people have crossed the Polish border, about half of them children. While Polish authorities and the public have provided housing, food, education and other support, current legal restrictions make the job difficult.

For a Ukrainian immigrant to work legally in Poland (as hundreds of thousands already do), they would normally need to obtain a visa from a Polish diplomatic post in Ukraine, notes Business Insider Polska. For obvious reasons, this was not possible for those who fled the war.

Meanwhile, those applying for refugee status are not allowed to work for at least six months, Łukasz Koszczoł, CEO of recruitment firm Job Impulse, told Business Insider.

He says employers are keen to facilitate “safe, legal and efficient employment for people crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border.”

Poland’s Family and Social Policy Minister Marlena Maląg said she had discussions with business leaders on the issue.

“We are preparing regulatory changes that will allow long-term support for Ukrainian citizens…related to their security, first and foremost to the opening of the labor market,” she said, quoted by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

“We want Ukrainian citizens crossing borders to have an open labor market with a stamp allowing them to legally reside in Poland,” Maląg added, noting that special legislation to this effect could be ready today.

Business Insider reports that the regulations would simply require an employer to notify authorities that they are employing a Ukrainian citizen under the new rules.

It also notes that some large employers, such as the Biedronka, Lidl and Kaufland supermarket chains and the Jysk furniture store, are working on their own special simplified employment procedure for people who have fled Ukraine, as well as various support programs for existing Ukrainian employees.

Biedronka announced last week that each of his Ukrainian staff would receive a payment of 1,000 zlotys (€216), which have already started to be paid out. Lidl and Kaufland offer to help Ukrainian employees find accommodation for evacuated family members.

Today, Maląg also assured that “Ukrainian parents will also have access to family benefits that are in force in Poland”. This would initially be the “500+” family allowance program. Later, “if these women decide to stay in Poland, that will also [include] Family Care Capital and a Good Start,” she added, referring to two other government programs.

Gertruda Uścińska, director of the Polish Social Insurance Institute (ZUS), which is responsible for benefits, told the Rzeczpospolita every day that her organization would do whatever it could “to help ensure that they receive [500+] family allowances”.

Maląg also revealed that the government was in talks with the European Union about “funds for the financial support of social programs“, but said it was still too early to reveal details, reports Wprost.

Poland promises school places for Ukrainian children, who make up half of refugees

Main image credit: Patryk Ogorzalek / Agencja Wyborcza.pl

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